Jawun and the APSC: an Enduring Partnership
2021 marks the tenth year of the APSC’s partnership with Jawun. More than 600 Australian Public Servants have shared their expertise and supported Indigenous leaders and communities to achieve their own development goals.
Jawun, in Kuku Yalanji language of Cape York, means ‘friend’ or ‘family’. Working with Indigenous communities and leaders, Jawun facilitates long-term engagement through partnership with government, corporate entities and Indigenous Australia, driving Indigenous-led changes and facilitating a two-way transfer of knowledge and skills. Since Jawun was established 20 years ago, more than 3,500 corporate and government employees have lived and worked in Indigenous communities in 11 regions across the country.
Australian Government agencies started sending employees on secondment through the Jawun program in 2011. 2021 marks the tenth year of the partnership, with more than 600 APS employees undertaking a secondment. APS Secondees have collaboratively worked with Jawun, Jawun’s corporate partners and Indigenous organisations to support Indigenous communities and their leaders, to achieve the communities’ development goals.
To celebrate the ten years of partnership, Jawun presented a stunning and significant artwork as a gift to the Australian Public Service Commission. The name of the artwork is Worrewoorrem Wet Season by Miriwoong Gajerrong elder Phyllis Ningarmara, represented by Waringarri Arts.
Worrewoorrem Wet Season depicts an area of Miriwoong Country in the East Kimberley where interlinked rivulets of the wet season flow into the main river system. It speaks of how diversity flows into unity, and also represents the partnership between Jawun and the APS.
Like all successful partnerships, the APS and Jawun partnership is built on a foundation of respect and trust. APS secondees do not go into the communities to lead change, they take a ‘back seat’ and support the Indigenous leaders and organisations to drive the change needed in their communities. They listen deeply and respectfully and work towards the outcomes the community needs to help them achieve their vision and aspirations.
Demonstrated by the APS and Jawun partnership, successful partnerships offer mutual benefits and value for both parties. The diverse capabilities of the APS secondees nurture talent and build capability within Indigenous organisations and support projects or initiatives by working collaboratively across agencies and sectors, fostering strong networks. Being ‘on the ground’ and gaining first-hand experience, the APS secondees are able to identify opportunities and challenges for the Indigenous communities.
In return, our APS secondees increase their cultural awareness, develop new individual skills, confidence and resilience. They bring their learnings back to the public service to keep influencing the broader system in order to achieve better outcomes for all our citizens.
In 2022, the APS and Jawun will go into the third five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The partnership is going strong. Both parties have a mutual intent to continue the existing national partnership to build the capacity of Indigenous individuals and organisations. It is mutually agreed that strong reciprocal benefits from this engagement and a sustainable partnership is key to success.
“Like the interlinked rivulets depicted in Worrewoorrem Wet Season, united by the same vision, people with diverse backgrounds from Jawun and the APS join their efforts together, working towards true reconciliation.”APS Jawun Coordinator
It is a long journey and all small efforts come together to eventually make a significant impact. Hence our milestone of ten years and the longevity of our relationship is important.
We look forward to continuing to strengthen our learnings through partnership for many years to come.