Sharna Collard – Kooya Consultancy: Understanding the Third Space to bridge the Gap between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people
I recently met with Sharna Collard from Kooya Consultancy.
The daughter of Kim Collard, Sharna Collard is a Ballardong/Wilmen woman of the Noongar nation on her Fathers side. She has been working alongside Father, Kim Collard for the past 5 years, predominately being involved in the Kooya Consultancy business – she is responsible for the Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training and Education for many organisations.
Kooya Consultancy delivers a broad range of training services but it is great to have the opportunity to learn more about the Third Space Training Program; Sharna co-facilitates the program with her father, Kim Collard. The Third Space can be best described as the space at the interface between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal worlds.
Sharna Collard certainly understands this Third Space, being of a diverse Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal background herself. She understand what it means to work out the common grounding between her Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal worlds. She knows how challenging and rewarding it can be to find your own third space.
One can really understand someone else’s world only once you have stepped in their shoes and walked a mile and really internalise how it feels. The journey for Sharna Collard has not always been an easy one; because at times, it was hard to work to be accepted in either worlds. Yet, when talking to Sharna, it is wonderful to hear about her journey of self-reflection and resilience. It is inspiring to see how Sharna has become a role model for many women – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.
Tell me more about Sharna Collard & Kooya Consultancy’s Third Space Training?
I co-facilitate this training with my father.
The program is designed for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants to provide them with the necessary skills, tools and knowledege to work in the ‘Third Space’.
We use a visual framework to explain the third space. It provides a framework for the rules of engagement between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and brings better understanding and awareness. The Third Space provides a space of common ground.
The positive impact of the training and the ability to provide improved understanding and acceptance makes it a very satisfying program to be facilitating. The feedback on the training program is great.
Working with family can be challenging?
My dad and I are very different and we challenge each other from time to time. But we also complement each other through both of our strengths and weaknesses. We teach each other about taking more risk but also making sure that we have the right controls in place.
Ultimately, we share the same passion, drive and purpose which makes working with my father an absolute privilege.
You are a role model to many, but do you see yourself as a role model?
I know others look up to me as their role model but I do have to work on my own self-value and appreciation that I can be a role model.
I used to be very shy and timid. There are two worlds apart between the person that I used to be and the person I am now. I sometimes still have to pinch myself that I now have the confidence to speak in front of a whole room of people! That in itself is a testament of how far I’ve come.
I have been participating in mentoring for Shell Australia. It is great to see the progress and growth of the graduates within that organisation.
It was also a great experience to be part of the pilot Yorga Djenna Bidi Leadership Program (specifically designed for Aboriginal women). The opportunity to grow with and learn from 24 other amazing Aboriginal women in our communities is an experience I will never forget. The leadership program was very empowering and gained a great deal from participating in this program.
I strongly encourage and recommend this course for all Aboriginal women. It really was a program that I hold in high regard and will never forget.
As a role model, the best we can do to empower others is to have the confidence to be who we really are and who we strive to be.
Where do you find your inspiration when things are tough?
There are many who inspire me, however Rishelle Hume has played an immense role. Rishelle also shares a diverse Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal background and had to find her own place in life. Rishelle is someone that naturally inspires people without even knowing it.
I look up to her because she is grounded, centered and so well respected in our community. I love seeing how much she has achieved in our community. She inspires me to grow, develop and achieve great things.
Rishelle is the one who encouraged me to apply for the pilot Yorga Djenna Bidi Leadership Program; I will be forever grateful for the opportunity. It allowed me the opportunity to learn so much more about myself and other women in my community.
It allowed me to find my own third space.
Rishelle is an inspiration to me and too many others.
My connection to the land and our family’s connection to the kooya ground me. Kooya (Kweryah) is the name for the frog in the Balladong dialect (moonogal mi – sound of the Eastern People) and is also the totem of the Bennell Family Clan. This frog has got special power to heal and harm. The kooya is the barometer of the ecology (noonook Kweryah wangkiny, noonook boodjar mooditjil). If you hear the kooya, you know the land is in balance and healthy. The kooya reminds me to make sure that we are healthy and in balance.
How do you see the Third Space evolving in future?
The rules of engagement are working both ways. Both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people have to make an effort to meet in the third space. The more we learn and participate, the better everyone’s understanding will be about the mutual rules of engagement.
There is an intergenerational change taking place and I can see the shift in education and improved understanding. I believe education is the catalyst for social change and for our younger people to live in a better place.
To make whole, we need respect to lead the young generation but also need to make sure that we retain our respect for our Elders. With the passing of time, urbanisation and many changes over time, it is not always easy to follow the traditional ways. However, leveraging and learning from our Elders will improve preservation of kinship and community.
Finally: Sharna Collard – Kooya Consultancy and a few more hats
It has been a real pleasure to get to know Sharna and to learn more about her journey and the hats she manages to wear very successfully and professionally.
Sharna Collard is a capable, strong woman who emanates passion, yet is very grounded and connected to her land and self. I think she will always ask the hard questions of herself in to get ahead in life and to make a difference. To do this, one needs courage. Sharna has courage – lots of it.
My gratitude to Sharna for the opportunity to learn more about Kooya Consultancy and her many other hats.
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It would be remiss of me not to mention Kulbardi and the Kulbardi Foundation.
Kulbardi contributes a certain percentage of its profits to the Kulbardi Foundation, which in turns them supports and sponsor Aboriginal projects. It is an amazing initiative that shows the value of social procurement and the potential for social return on investment. Read more here.
Have a great day!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author specifically and do not necessarily represent any official policy or position. This document remains the intellectual property of Celia Jordaan. It may not be copied, distributed, shared, printed or used without prior written approval.
With over 20 years experience, Celia has worked in different countries, locations and cultures. Celia worked in the areas of:
- supply chain,
- contractor management,
- law and
- safety and risk.
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