Yarning Up is back for 2019, where we sit down with exceptional Indigenous individuals to talk about Indigenous issues, cultural preservation and more.
For our first edition of 2019, with sat down with Bawurra CEO Monique Shipp to discuss what 2018 meant for Bawurra, what our direction is in 2019, and her own personal objectives when it comes to transforming Bawurra Foundation into a tool for education, reconciliation and self-determination.
Nick: You’ve been CEO since May 2018, and for 2018 it seemed like a big year for the Foundation. Tell us more about how 2018 was for Bawurra?
Monique: 2018 was exhilarating, it was everything that we had envisioned, everything we put into action, we achieved. We wanted to reach all fifteen connected communities by the end of 2018, and we did that. Even now, just remembering it, I’m really proud of what we did last year; it was a stretch but our team, particularly our chairman Jesse Slok, our CFO Jackson Whiting and our co-founder Alexander Stonyer-Dubinovsky really held the baton high and ran toward our finish line to reach the 2018 vision, and we are now successfully within all fifteen connected communities in New South Wales. We’re not just in the primary schools, we’re also in some of the high schools too, and community centres, which is awesome!
Nick: Yeah, it goes beyond what we originally envisaged for Bawurra. Going into 2019, like you mentioned, the Foundation is, in a really encouraging position; it’s moving in the right direction. In terms of where we will go from here in 2019, what are the key things we really want to focus on? Cause it isn’t really just about expansion, there’s more to it than that, isn’t there?
Monique: Yeah exactly… being in an encouraging place is what I aim for with the Foundation; I aim to help build a community within the Foundation internally, that is empowering. Where each member looks out for one another and strengthening each other so together we can move forward as a mighty force, who are inspired, and who know that community is first. The 2019 theme for the Bawurra Foundation is ‘community first,’ and that means putting the communities we serve first … when you put people first, everything else will follow.
Nick: Yes, and it is good that we’ve built a really encouraging structure around that. In terms of the specifics of growth for this year, obviously, one of the big things is the Bawurra digital library. [With the library], we’re covering things like culture, stories, songlines but this year we’re looking to expand that too. How are we expanding things like the library this year?
Monique: So our co-founders set a vision, which we call the ‘300 vision’ - in which we aim to add three hundred new pieces of content onto the digital library by the end of 2019, and the content will fit into all twelve sections of the library. So, it is really quite awesome to see all the new different pieces of information coming through. We’ve set up the 300 vision database, and we’re already up to 75 pieces of content, we are well ahead of schedule.
We’re also on the process of working with Kinderling Radio - they’re an incredible radio station that is 24/7 that is specifically for primary school children, who also have wellbeing resources and they are going to be featured in our Music section of the library, so all of our digital library readers can also access the station in real-time. The radio program is really cool, it’s actually structured around increasing wellbeing for primary-aged school children, which is really exciting. That aligns perfectly with our values at Bawura.
Nick: In terms of reach, we connected with all fifteen of the connected communities in 2018; over 1,000 students, which is an amazing achievement and really encouraging for the future. Where do we look now in terms of reaching out to as many people as possible? Where do we go for this year? Will we be staying within the realms of NSW or are we hoping to go interstate?
Monique: We will be revisiting our connected communities in 2019, because it is about relationships, and we foster and value our relationships within the Foundation. Our relationships with our Communities are really, really important to us. [Outside of our current communities] in terms of 2019, there are a few communities in New South Wales we've been asked to visit by Elders and other Community Leaders, and we plan on making good on our word. Watch this space.
Nick: As a last question for you, improving access to quality education for all, which relates to our message of ‘Community First’ is something I know, from knowing you personally, that you value very highly. What is a personal goal for you within your role within the Foundation?
Monique: My personal goal is to continue leading with
the mindset of ‘people first,’ so that all of the Bawurra team flourish within their roles, both inside and outside Bawurra, helping us work together to serve community.