2021 Jawun secondment recap

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Tracy Piper, Learning Success Advisor and Coordinator of the Peer Academic Mentoring program at Curtin University Library, travelled to the West Kimberley region in late 2021 for a secondment with the Jawun program. Here is her recap.

In late 2021 I was fortunate to be selected for a secondment with the Jawun program, an initiative where staff from professional or government institutes are paired with Indigenous regional organisations to share skills, knowledge and expertise. Jawun means “friend” or “family” in the language of the Kuku Yalanji nation, the traditional custodians of land in Cape York. Throughout this experience I gained new friends, and fondly refer to the other secondees as my “Jawun family”. 

Not only was my secondment an opportunity for me to further my professional development and share my skills and knowledge with another organisation, it was a chance to develop my cultural awareness and understanding of Indigenous ways of being, knowing and doing. I was elated to be travelling to the West Kimberley region for my secondment, as it meant I could experience an Indigenous culture different to Nyungar ways of life, which I have been fortunate to learn about during my time at Curtin. I was placed at the Kimberley Land Council’s (KLC) Broome office, and simultaneously worked virtually for the Kimberley Language Resource Centre (KLRC) in Halls Creek. Broome, or ‘Rubibi’, is home to the Yawuru people, and surrounded by other Aboriginal nations such as Bardi Jawi, Nyul Nyul and Jabirr Jabirr.

While working at the KLC, I gained a much deeper understanding of Aboriginal land rights and disputes than I had held previously. I was introduced to terms such as PBC (Prescribed Body Corporate), TOs (traditional owners) and MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). It turns out Curtin isn’t the only place that loves acronyms! For both projects I was working on internal and external communications, and upskilling staff in maintaining their online platforms. For the KLC I developed online induction modules for new staff and updated the staff intranet site, and for the KLRC I developed more of a social media presence, created a mailing list and newsletter, and updated their website and online shop.

As part of my work, I was fortunate to attend the KLC’s annual bush meeting – a three-day event where organisations such as the KLC, the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre (KALACC), Kred and Aarnja hold their Annual General Meetings. Usually these events are week-long and include a festival of cultural performances such as singing and dancing, but unfortunately not everyone could attend after bushfires postponed the originally scheduled meeting. We were still privileged to witness singing and dancing from Bardi dancers on one of the evenings.

I’m so grateful for my time spent on country in the West Kimberley, and hope I managed to make even a small impact on the people and processes I worked with at both organisations. The impact the experience has made on me, and the connections I’ve made because of it, are ones I’ll never forget.

Written By:
Tracy Piper, Learning Success Advisor and Coordinator of the Peer Academic Mentoring program
Curtin University Library

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