Professional workshop facilitation by Iwona Polowy leads to valuable results for SWALSC


“As a direct result of the project, our team has gained a clear purpose and direction, as well as great knowledge in relation to policy development.”

Caron Stewart, SWALSC Governance Coordinator

The South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council is the native title representative body of the Noongar people, who are the traditional owners of the south west of Australia. SWALSC works with members to progress resolution of the Noongar native title claims, while also advancing and strengthening Noongar culture, language, heritage and society.

When SWALSC first approached Volunteering WA for assistance, they were in the midst of developing a core group of policies for use in manuals for the organisation in its current structure, and for adoption by the Central Services Corporation which will be established in the coming year. These policies would also be used by six Regional Corporations which will be established this year as well.

At the time, the SWALSC staff had drafted policies for a number of categories (HR, Directorate, Secretariat, Finance, IT, Communications, Legal & Compliance, Community & Culture, Regional Cooperation) and they planned to conduct a peer review of the drafts within a workshop format. They had a challenge, however, in determining the best method to conduct the workshop so as to be as efficient, inclusive and productive as possible. A few months prior, Iwona Polowy, a facilitator and trainer at Woodside, had expressed an interest in using her professional skills to support a not-for-profit in its workshop development and delivery, so Iwona jumped straight on board to assist the SWALSC team.

“Feeling very happy when people discover for themselves the power of facilitation!”

Iwona Polowy, Woodside Volunteer

With just over a week to prepare, Iwona and the SWALSC executive team worked to streamline and focus the workshop agenda to ensure it met the ultimate goals of the organisation. What started as a presentation-based format soon turned into a much deeper discussion with a more inquisitive, purpose-driven structure. By helping the team to better understand the impact of forthcoming changes to the organisation’s structure, Iwona facilitated the creation of a shared vision and improved team spirit. “The project transformed a team of staff with differing views on what constitutes good policies, to a team with a clear understanding of the difference between policies and procedures. As a direct result of the project, our team has gained a clear purpose and direction, as well as great knowledge in relation to policy development,” said Caron Stewart, SWALSC Governance Coordinator. letter

By the end of the two-day workshop facilitated by Iwona, the SWALSC team had developed a list of policies suitable for adoption within the current SWALSC structure as well as the future central services and regional corporations. The team left with a clear direction on how they would finalise the manual and start its implementation. They were extremely grateful for the expertise Iwona provided throughout the process, saying,

“ We were very fortunate to work with Iwona, she is an absolute professional and we learnt a great deal from her. Her attention to detail and commitment to running a successful workshop that exceeded our best expectations was very much appreciated by all involved.”