Justitia is very excited to be associated with the dynamic consultancy set up by Carla Rogers and Aunty Munya Andrews called Evolve Communities.
Carla, a non-Indigenous learning designer, and Aunty Munya, an Aboriginal Elder, met in 2011 while working together on a Community Engagement project in remote Western Australia. They knew right away that they shared the same values and vision of a kinder, more inclusive Australia. A value many of us share and that resonates with Justitia!
Since then, they have been busy growing their cultural awareness and Reconciliation training business. They work with government departments, organisations and individuals throughout Australia, and I was fortunate to participate in their Ally Accreditation Program late last year (2021). Since then, I have been inspired to commence my own journey to gain a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, customs and history. Recent summer reading such as “The Yield” by Tara June Winch, “Devotion” by Hannah Kent and “Van Diemen’s Land” by James Boyce continue to enrich my knowledge.
Carla and Aunty Munya agreed to be interviewed by me, and I share some of that conversation here.
I asked them how they adapted their program to be delivered so effectively online?
Carla started a career in facilitation and community engagement. She had a business called “Nomad Meetings”, and was teaching people how to collaborate online. This is when online webinars were just starting around 2008. She was helping people provide a rich and rewarding online experience. Carla says that “for effective online collaboration, you need a find to replicate everything that you do in person as a host and facilitator.” She was ahead of her time.
The uptake in this way of learning online was accelerated when the pandemic hit, and Carla and Aunty Munya thrived with this opportunity: translating all of their rich, in-person learning experiences and yarning circles online. With the pandemic, people no longer had a choice but to join in on the adventure.
Once the pandemic subsides, they predict that some of their clients will want to return to in-person workshops, but more will do this kind of training online going forward.
I asked them how they would describe the impact they want to have?
Their big, bold objective is to create a kinder and more inclusive Australia, and to inspire allyship. For Carla, growing a small business can be a slow burn, or as the old adage goes: 17 years to be an overnight success. But now, it is a case of their dreams coming true. “What you think is impossible can become possible. Just keep swimming like Nemo,” said Carla, and “my favourite quote is from Mary-Ann Radmacher: courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow. That encapsulates small business for me and our work at Evolve.”
Aunty Munya said she is always thinking about how to get the message across and create a better understanding and appreciation of Indigenous peoples and culture. If you say something that ticks someone’s list, then she tries to remember what that is. And then replicate it.
“When you catch the wave, you can ride and it will take you far. There is momentum in the messages they are delivering, and it is like understanding the scientific ball. One ball hits a ball, which hits another ball, and hits another one. It has a life of its own when it is the right message. What you teach may not be profound, but if people loved it, then it resonated and it will endure.” Aunty Munya believes they have reached a tipping point.
I asked them about the role of “authenticity” in their training. Do they think about it?
Carla and Aunty Munya say it is a natural way of being for them.
They had their team retreat in the last few days and they identified three values for their organisation which have behaviours listed under them. They are:
- Kindness in kindredness
- Fun in creativity
- Walking our talk
In order to be authentic, Carla loves feedback and provides a safe environment inviting people to let her know if she is not walking her talk.
For Aunty Munya, being authentic is a way of being. Not the way of being gammon (an Aboriginal word meaning fake, or pretending, to lie). “You will be spotted if you are fake and not true. You have to walk the talk and be honest and authentic.”
I asked them about what books they recommend.
Both recommend the following must-reads: “White Fragility” and “Nice Racism” by Robin DiAngelo.
Back to me – I mentioned I was on a journey, and realise there is still so much I do not know. The Evolve Communities training has contributed to my ability to work as a better lawyer and investigator with increased cultural sensitivity or at least awareness of how much I do not know. There are a number of amazing Aboriginal colleagues doing important work in the legal and governance space. At Justitia, we believe there is power in sharing our networks and through engagements with organisations like Evolve Communities, that we can contribute to the inclusive Australia we are all striving to achieve.
For more information about Evolve Communities, visit www.evolves.com.au.