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Why does the Emerging Leaders

program exist?

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

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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.



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.