Jawun Secondment: Finance to football in Shepparton

Review Services Senior Team Leader Francesco Spanti spent six weeks in Shepparton, Victoria with Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative. Rumbalara is a leading provider of community-controlled, whole of life services that support, honour and respect First Nations People.

Rumbalara is out in the community providing culturally-appropriate services to Indigenous people. Those services span the whole of life and the work is really varied and important. One day they might be supporting people with a disability to live independently, and the next a young family with emergency accommodation.

Funded predominantly by grants, Rumbalara works to make the most of that funding to deliver for its community. While on secondment, I was tasked with helping to streamline what was a pretty manual, but deeply-embedded administrative finance process.

The best piece of advice I received heading into my secondment was from a colleague at Allens. They told me to not assume I knew anything, and to go in as naïve as possible. That gave me a great foundation for my time with Rumbalara.

I thought my brief was quite straightforward at first, but I learned quite quickly that it was less about process and more about people. I learned to ask a lot of questions and connect with people to understand their preferences and develop rapport so that they were open to the idea of change. I even filled in with the local football team once or twice to build my standing within the community, the relationships and best on ground performance was well worth the broken ribs I suffered in the process.

I was able to improve some efficiencies in the finance process and provide a recommendation that hopefully leads to more. I also had the opportunity to tutor some underprivileged kids during my secondment. That was the highlight of my experience. My dad is a teacher, and I've always said I never quite understood how he did it. Spending time with these kids twice a week and supporting them to learn helped me understand the appeal - it was really rewarding.  

Our partnership with Jawun

Through our ongoing support of Jawun, a non-profit organisation that works with Indigenous communities, we offer opportunities for our people to undertake skills-based secondments within Indigenous organisations. Our partnership commenced in 2011 and in 2014 we extended this support to include the Empowered Communities initiative.

Jawun means 'friend' in the Kuku Yalanji language of Queensland's Mossman Gorge and its logo represents Indigenous markings for a meeting place or camp fire. Together they reflect Jawun's vision of bringing together corporate, government, philanthropic and Indigenous organisations to support the capabilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities across the country.