Monday, April 19, 2010

My secondment to Kununurra ....

So, it’s about time I gave some detail on this secondment to Kununurra, isn’t it? Seeing as I’m leaving next Tuesday, and time is rapidly running out ….

One of the good things about working for a large and profitable organisation is that it has a lot of money to devote to community programs. My company does an immense amount of good work across Australia and we’re recognised for the contribution we make. It’s a nice side-effect of being hugely successful.

Our community work is in fact one of the really rewarding things about working here, in fact. Every year we get two days of paid volunteer leave – last year I helped out at the Sacred Heart food kitchen, and it was an eye-opening experience.

The secondment I’m about to embark on is an extension of that volunteering program. It’s medium-term skilled volunteering, hence the five-week duration; and the program is part of our reconciliation action plan.

I’ll be spending the time with an Indigenous NGO (non-government organisation) in Kununurra, in the remote East Kimberlies. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to discuss externally, so until I find out otherwise I’ll keep things vague enough here so that no person or group is specifically identified.

I know I was selected because the project I’ll be working on is a complex one, with a lot of ambiguity – and I’m good at dealing with ambiguity and change. The organisation wants some input around creating a strategic plan, itemising some clear actions to articulate the plan, thinking creatively about identifying and developing young Indigenous leaders in the surrounding communities, some strategic mentoring and facilitation, and long-term communications planning. I can do all that.

But what exactly will I be doing, I hear you ask? The answer is that I don’t really know yet. And I don’t expect to know until I get up there and start talking with people.

I think that’s part of the challenge, which is to begin thinking and questioning and talking it over with my friends and family – so that there’s an element of becoming an advocate for the program and stimulating other people to perhaps think about things too.

So please, consider this post the first part of a series relating to my secondment – I’ll try to update things as regularly as I can over the time I’m away.

I’m leaving in just over a week, and I’ll be gone til the first week of June. My heart’s beating pretty hard in my chest at the delicious thought of being away from work for that long – I’ve never had that much time off work before. Since I was 18, in fact, I’ve worked through all my uni semester breaks, and I started a full-time job when I was 21, so that makes ….. a really long time since I’ve had a five week break. On reflection, it may well have been the Christmas period when I was in Year 10, before I got a weekend job.

That’s a long time. But I digress. I won’t be on holiday, I’ll be working – but it will be in a completely different way, and I’m excited at the prospect.

So the rest of this week will be spent in briefings - crocodile briefings (yes, seriously), 4WD training, cultural appreciation, planning a side-trip to the Argyle Diamond Mine (heh heh heh) …. can’t wait!


Posie Patchwork said...

Oh you'll love it!! I used to work for an oil company in Darwin, Argyle were a client, shame i never got any freebies, humph. The weather this time of year is amazing, all those grottos to swim in, stunning views, oh, lifetime opportunity. Do visit Darwin, it's quite modern now. We lived there twice, over 6 years in total, great place to live especially with a young family. Have a fabulous time - your mini secondment will fly by. Love Posie

Vanessa said...

My sister worked in Kununurra for a few months (not quite sure what exactly she did up there) and she loved it. Beautiful part of the world. Just don't get eaten by a crocodile!!
Have a great trip. Hope you do some wonderful work up there.
Ness x

Megan said...

hope you have lots of wonderful adventures on your no-work work holiday, can't wait to hear about them when you get a chance. make sure you do avoid those crocs, and the snakes, and the spiders and the frogs and all the other ginormous bugs, oh and the really really really big lizards.

Knicky Knacks said...

Wow - what an adventure. Have fun and good luck. Take lots of chamomile lotion (for the sand flies) and paw paw cream (great for all rashes, cuts etc). Both do very well in hot climates. My cousin was a teacher on a remote Aboriginal island for 3 years and she swears by them.

lisette said...

fantastic! i would be really interested to hear about your experiences as i'm now working for a large Aboriginal controlled ngo and we're about to start a project on partnership - email me? cheers f

Margaret @ Konstant Kaos said...

Given that I have just completed a unit on indigenous communities with my Year 9's I am going to be facinated to chat with you when you return. Have fun, take lots of pictures and take some crafty goodness just to stay in touch with things.

Cathy {Tinniegirl} said...

Oh you're life is about to change forever. I've never been to Kununurra but I've spent time in the Kimberley and it was an absolutely amazing experience. I hope it's everything you dream it will be, and then some.