Jawun Development Program

Jawun is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at building the capacity of Indigenous people and communities, and promoting self-reliance, entrepreneurial activity and business planning. Jawun means 'friend' or 'family', an honour given to the organisation by the Kuku Yalanji people of Mossman Gorge in Queensland's Cape York.

The Jawun Development Program, a Signature Project of the University's Reconciliation Action Plan April 2018 – December 2022, places talented University staff into Indigenous organisations to work on initiatives that:

  • build the capacity of, and support for, Indigenous individuals and organisations to achieve their goals
  • assist Indigenous people to access mainstream economic and educational opportunities
  • provide opportunities for non-Indigenous secondees to strengthen their cultural competence
  • support Indigenous people to bring about health and social reform.

The Jawun Development Program includes:

  • an Employee Secondment Program of six-week residential placements providing opportunities for staff to experience paid secondments with Indigenous-led community organisations
  • an Executive Program providing two- to three-day visits for executive leaders to learn more about the Jawun Development Program in order to sponsor and advocate for secondments across the University.

Our secondees

Daryl Holland, Content Producer, Strategy and Culture | Seconded to Nganampa Health Council in CentralDaryl Holland Australia

“I’ve learnt a lot about the compounding challenges faces by remote Indigenous communities and the challenges of running an Indigenous-led and community owned health service, but also I have learnt how this model can have a transformative impact on community health and attitudes towards health providers.

I had the privilege of visiting the APY Lands to spend time with the AŠĻČangu and experience the strong and proud culture and language they have maintained through colonisation, displacement and the continuing challenge of ‘living in two worlds’. I now go by a different name in the community due to the death of an elder with my given name – this showed me that through my Jawun secondment with Nganampa Health Council I was accepted by the community, not as an outsider, but as someone worthy of being acknowledged as part of their sombre cultural business. “

Paul NoonanPaul Noonan, Director, University Communications and Marketing (MDHS) | Seconded to Moorundi Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in Lower River Murray, South Australia

“My experience was fantastic. Over six weeks, I spent time on magnificent Ngarrindjeri country in the Lower River Murray, a region made famous by ‘Storm Boy’ and David Unaipon who features on the $50 note.

The visionary Stevie Sumner, CEO of Moorundi Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service and his team, were generous and patient hosts who are committed to the Jawun programme. Sarah Collyer-Braham, Regional Director, Jawun, was incredibly organised and caring, which helped make the immersion so meaningful, fun, and productive.

I’m grateful to the University, fellow Jawun secondees, and, of course, my family and friends for their support.”

Paul Noonan with fellow Jawun secondees


The abundance of forward-looking leadership was inspiring.  The leaders we met shared flashes of insight into the challenges faced by their communities following generations of damage, tragedy and broken promises.  Some of the stories gave us goose-bumps, but still, the leaders we met are finding sustainable ways to move forward despite deep scepticism on many fronts – both from within the community, and from outside.  A powerful example was the wild flower growing business in the Murray River, providing the opportunity to care for the land and provide meaningful employment and economic development.

Ken Jefferd
Executive Director, Research, Innovation and Commercialisation

Jawun Executive Program


For more information about the Jawun Development Program contact:  Sophie Grant, Project Coordinator (sophie.grant1@unimelb.edu.au)