As an insurance lawyer, my day job requires me to engage with insurer clients, insureds and combative co-litigants. Unfortunately, this reality means there is little room to build a strong sense of social conscience. I would venture to say that I am not alone among my colleagues in admitting that, at times, I am overcome when I ask myself how I can contribute more to the community.
So when an email landed in my inbox seeking expressions of interest for a Jawun secondment, I didn’t hesitate to apply.
This opportunity has seen me uprooted from my usual role in the insurance litigation team of Norton Rose Fulbright, Brisbane and parachuted into Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education & Training, an Indigenous community organisation situated in the Inner Sydney suburb of Glebe, for the past six weeks.
The Jawun model is unique and aims to bridge the gap between corporate Australia and Indigenous Australians, by facilitating meaningful skills transfer to bring about enduring changes within the Indigenous Australian community.
Tranby is truly an incredible organisation, providing vocational education and training to Indigenous adults, funded through government grants and corporate partnerships. During my secondment, I have been tasked with assisting the Tranby leadership team to design strategic plans that will ensure the longevity of the college, with a primary focus on obtaining funding sources outside of government grants. One of the projects I have assisted on is the development of a pre-law university pathway that Tranby has in place with the University of Sydney.
Interestingly, my work at Tranby has required me to draw upon the ‘soft skills’ I have formed from working in a corporate environment. Operating outside of my usual safety net of format and procedure, and without familiar colleagues, I have been forced to navigate this experience with an increasing sense of adaptability and resilience.
My time at Tranby has given me the opportunity to connect with the Indigenous community as I never have before and work with a fantastic group of highly skilled, tenacious people. The challenges facing Indigenous community organisations such as Tranby, are big beasts with no simple ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, and will only be surmounted with some serious ingenuity and hard grit.
Witnessing the power and connection that can be distilled from family, community and country is something that will remain with me for many years to come. I have come to appreciate the holistic impact of education and opportunity on an individual’s life. My contribution to the Indigenous community may be small, but it is entirely worthwhile.
Most importantly, I have learned that we all have the power to influence and bring about change.