Why does the Emerging Leaders
Over time, Jawun has recognised the need to
invest not only in established leaders but also in
the next generation. This acknowledges the strong
importance that Indigenous communities place on
succession planning, looking beyond the current
cohort of leaders to those who will be influential and
important in the future.
Investing in up-and-coming Indigenous leaders
recognises the highly demanding nature of leadership
in a community context. Unlike in a mainstream
professional context, community leadership demands
can be non-stop, putting significant pressure on
personal lives and professional goals.
Many young Indigenous leaders feel the tension
between older, customary forms of leadership and
those being shaped by their generation. Educated
and organisational forms of leadership may not be in
keeping with what is seen as ‘cultural leadership’ in
their community—or vice versa.
What is the Emerging Leaders program?
Jawun’s Emerging Leaders program began in 2011
to support rising Indigenous leaders understand and
meet the opportunities and challenges of leadership
roles. Since then, 40 people have participated,
meeting competitive criteria including nomination
by their community based on their role in driving
local initiatives that support positive change. In
groups of nine to fifteen, they embark on a two-year
journey that develops individual leadership, promotes
leadership behaviour, and connects participants with
peers and leaders across regions.
Emerging Leaders groups have now visited nine
regions supported by Jawun, and Canberra, as part
of the program. The importance of this is that many
begin the program with a relative lack of awareness
of what is going on in regions beyond their own, and
how to navigate government at different levels:
In a baseline survey completed by the 2017
Emerging Leaders at the start of the program,
only 17% of participants felt they had adequate
awareness of initiatives, reforms and leaders in
regions outside their own; and only 19% felt they
had adequate understanding of government or how
to engage with it. 16
Changes in generational leadership aren’t so simple in regions like
ours. It’s about finding the balance between the old and the new. You
can’t forget where the vision comes from. The fight continues, you
just need a fresher approach to it.
It’s a good time for young and up-and-coming leaders. But it’s about
balancing the old with the new, keeping culture alive and letting it
evolve in this new world we live in.
JAWUN EMERGING LEADER 2017 FROM THE WEST KIMBERLEY
1.2 Emerging Leaders
When a family is strong, a community thriving, or an organisation
sustainable and successful, it is because of good leaders. For Indigenous
Australia to thrive and compete globally, it must focus on, support and
grow leaders. The Jawun Emerging Leaders program does that. You get
taken out of your comfort zone, your potential is stretched, and you set
new standards for yourself. It grows leaders. It did that for me.
JAWUN EMERGING LEADER 2013 FROM CAPE YORK
1. EMPOWERING INDIGENOUS LEADERSHIP 9