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Jawun—a history

An expanding footprint—2001 to 2017

Since 2001, Jawun (formerly Indigenous Enterprise

Partnerships) has built a unique network of

Indigenous, corporate, government and philanthropic

partnerships. Over time and in a growing number of

regions, Jawun has leveraged these partnerships for

its mission to empower Indigenous communities to

achieve their own development goals.

This purpose is rooted in a historical crisis and the

call of an Indigenous leader for change. Noel Pearson,

in his publication O

ur right to take responsibilit

y 5

and in the subsequent Cape York Welfare Reform

agenda, decried a status quo where passive welfare,

social dysfunction and economic marginalisation

were allowed to persist in Indigenous Australia rather

than being tackled head on. Pearson called for a shift

from assistance to empowerment, namely through

support for


initiatives that promoted

self-reliance, enterprise and economic independence.

This philosophy was the foundation of Jawun, whose

founder is Noel Pearson.

Seventeen years later, Jawun operates in 10 regions

across Australia: Cape York, Goulburn Murray, East

Kimberley, Inner Sydney, West Kimberley, Central

Coast (New South Wales), North East Arnhem Land,

Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY)

Lands, Lower River Murray and Far West Coast

(South Australia) (Figure 4). In each, the founding

philosophy of Indigenous-led empowerment applies,

owned and articulated by local leaders who give it

local meaning. An Indigenous leader in Inner Sydney

speaks of ‘shifting from a deficit lens’ to one that

instead sees Indigenous people’s strengths; while in

the East Kimberley a leader calls for ‘empowerment

of those with a forever stake’.

This report shows how a united cause is growing in

ownership and momentum, and what this means for

Indigenous individuals, organisations and communities.

For a more detailed overview of the origins,

expansion and evolution of Jawun, see the 2015

companion report,

A story of shared value: corporate

and government partners

. 6

The national discussion is often something we can’t control

as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; there are just

too many other people controlling it and holding the keys. The

wonderful thing about the Jawun program is, it is something

that we absolutely can control.