Dr Sue Gordon AM
Dr Sue Gordon AM was awarded the Order of Australia for commitment to Aboriginal people and community affairs in 1993. In 1988 she became the first full-time and first Aboriginal Magistrate in the Children’s Court of Western Australia in Perth, a role she continues to this day. Dr Gordon was appointed as Chairperson of the National Indigenous Council for a 2 year term on a part-time basis in October 2004. In 2003, she received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (Hon.DLitt) from the University of Western Australia. Dr Gordon has a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Western Australia.
Born 1943 at Belele Station via Meekatharra, Dr Gordon was removed from her mother at 4 years of age and taken to Sister Kate’s Home in Perth, educated and sent out to work aged 16 years. During 1961 to 1964 she was a full-time member of the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC) based mostly in the Eastern States. Following this she worked in various administrative positions around Australia, and in the early 1970s started a long association with the Pilbara region, working mostly in Aboriginal Affairs with both urban and traditional people.
In 1986 she was appointed as Commissioner for Aboriginal Planning becoming the first Aboriginal person to head a government department in Western Australia. In 1990 she was appointed as one of the first five Commissioners to run the newly established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).
Dr Gordon was appointed for a period of six months as Chairperson of Inquiry into Response by Government Agencies to Complaints of Family Violence and Child Abuse in Aboriginal Communities, in 2002.
She was also awarded the National Aboriginal Overseas Study Award to study employment programs with a number of American Indian communities in the USA in 1977, the Aboriginal Development Commission Australia Day Council Award in 1986, the Paul Harris Fellow from the Rotary Club of Perth in 1994 and, in 2003, the Centenary Medal for service to the community, particularly the Aboriginal community.
She is also a member of various organizations across Australia, is a frequent guest speaker on Juvenile Justice issues, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and economic conditions. Dr Gordon is a widow with two sons, one a lawyer and the other a civil engineer.
Dr Gordon speaks with honesty, openness and humour and she will engage us with multiple perspectives on the experience of learning.