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The ripple effect beyond

the individual

Most secondees and Executive Visit participants

came away from the experience with a better

understanding of Indigenous people and their

culture, and increased empathy for the challenges

they face. With these new insights came a desire

to ‘spread the word’: to share experiences and

learnings about Indigenous affairs with others,

or to challenge misconceptions. Often this begins


influencing family





social networks



One of the true benefits of the

secondment program is having people

like me who live in major cities, who

would never have the opportunity to

live in an Indigenous community …

we come back and we talk about it

and we spread the word that it’s not

just this narrow view.



CAPE YORK 2003 AND 2008–09

Bonnie Carter reflected: ‘I got back and told family

members about my experiences, and they were

completely gobsmacked by it all. It’s certainly

changed their perceptions. I’ve been able to

have these conversations, use my experience to

influence others and change their thinking.’

Bonnie’s reaction was typical of that of most

secondees. Tien Do from KPMG completed a

secondment in 2013, six years after settling in

Australia. ‘I shared what I’d learnt about Aboriginal

communities and culture with my wife and kids

and friends,’ he said. ‘Some of my friends were

surprised—they didn’t really know that much,

even if they were born here.’ Melissa Noonan from

Westpac said her secondment had had a flow-on

effect for her family:

I was a girl who grew up in Melbourne with no

Indigenous friends, no awareness. I now have

many Indigenous friends—through a secondment

you develop those friendships. As a result, my

family has connected with Indigenous Australians,

my nieces and nephews share my experiences.

Other secondees travelled back to the place

of their secondment with partners or family

to introduce them to the organisations and

communities where they worked. After her

secondment to Cape York Aboriginal Australian

Academy, Martina Friedl from Westpac took her

partner to Cape York. ‘I wanted him to understand;

he’s from England. We went back to the school

and he saw the classes … It was really important for

me to pass that on to him so that he has a better

understanding. We watch

Redfern Now


and we watch it with a totally different view

and understanding.’

Steph Stokes from NAB wanted to pass on her

knowledge to the next generation. She took

her family to the West Kimberley following her

secondment to the Beagle Bay Women’s Group.

‘Taking my children back into the community where

I worked was a very special moment indeed,’ she

said. ‘My secondment sparked a lot of passion

in me for Indigenous culture, and I really wanted

my kids to see that. I wanted them to have that

exposure to Indigenous people and culture that

I didn’t get when I was a kid. I want to bring them

up with open minds, so they’re considerate and

appreciative of a culture that is different from

their own.’

Nina Kordic felt better informed and able to

contribute to general conversations about

Indigenous affairs following her secondment:

What I’ve noticed in my own circles is that the

understanding of Indigenous challenges is fairly

low. After experiencing a Jawun secondment and

getting a taste of how complex the issues are,

you can actually hold a conversation about it.

And then within your sphere of influence, you’re

able to have a conversation that has an educative,

empathetic influence on others.

Secondees and executives commonly felt

motivated to exert a positive

influence on

their professional circles

following their Jawun

experience. This came through educating and

spreading awareness, or encouraging others

to get involved in Indigenous affairs.