Lil Gordon, Head of Aboriginal Affairs Biography

Portrait for Lil GotdonI acknowledge the all of our nations/countries that form the oldest continual living culture and the unique role of our people, place and culture of this land. I acknowledge and pay the utmost heartfelt respect to the traditional custodians of the land and elders past and present.

I am a proud Aboriginal woman from Brewarrina, NSW - Ngiyampaa (Ngemba) country in Northern NSW.

My mother is Joyce Fazldeen, who has worked for many years in Aboriginal education in schools and TAFE NSW. My father is Stephen Gordon, who worked tirelessly in Aboriginal affairs and is the longest serving ATSIC Commissioner (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission). For my commitment, strength and resilience in everything I do - I thank them. I pay respect to my Grandmother Muriel Gordon and of course every day, my son Ngarlan Gordon, who keeps my spirit aligned to what is required for the future of the First Peoples of this country. I also thank all those that have gone before that allows me to build on the strength, resilience and perpetual Aboriginal spirit of our ancestors.

We moved to Wonnarua country in Maitland when I was about 14yrs old to explore greater opportunities in education and employment. Whilst it was hard to move off country from Brewarrina and our connection to country, my Mum was instrumental in ensuring we had the access to a range of education options.

‘I’m not trying to be something I’m not, I’m trying to be everything I can be …’ - Lillian Gordon

My passion is working alongside our communities in empowering Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people to create their own destiny, to provide those opportunities to give us the best chance to be the very best we can with whatever we choose to do.  Aboriginal education and training has been my main field along with effective and balanced leadership as well as building the understanding and capacity with non-Aboriginal people to recognise their potential in the ‘bigger picture’.

I have over 30 years of experience working in education and alongside Aboriginal communities, completing Bachelor of Education (Physical Education/Health/Personal Development) at University of Newcastle in 1990. I have worked in a range of environments including as a Director in TAFE NSW, CEO Barang Regional Alliance and teaching in high school, Juvenile Justice and Correctional Centres.

In my role as Director of Partnerships with Aboriginal Affairs, I led the establishment of Kimberwalli (previously Aboriginal Centre of Excellence), which has a focus on the aspirations of Aboriginal young people in Western Sydney. I also led the progression of the Aboriginal Languages Act 2017, through the establishment of an Aboriginal Languages Trust and planning to invest in activities intended to reawaken, grow, nurture, promote or raise awareness of Aboriginal Languages. I also led the Sydney/Newcastle Regional Teams.

I am currently the Head of Aboriginal Affairs. As a government agency, we work alongside Aboriginal people and communities to make sure their voices are heard and interests represented. By leading and influencing change in government, we support the social, cultural and economic aspirations of Aboriginal people in NSW. Ultimately, we build capacity and confidence: changing and evolving the way our stakeholders think and work together to achieve positive outcomes.

I learn from people from all walks of life every day and never forget where I have come from and our ancestors who have laid the platform and focused their efforts on continued empowerment of our communities.

I love connecting with people, hearing their stories and seeing their spirits rise. I have grown in my abilities in many ways and find that we have a unique humour that can break down many barriers and allow connection between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people toward greater understanding. I have particularly enjoyed being able to emcee a number of conferences, gatherings and awards ceremonies. I have facilitated many Aboriginal cultural education programs with a range of organisations growing the importance of the responsibility of these organisations in providing culturally appropriate and effective services, employment opportunities and respecting Aboriginal culture and connection to country.

I am a strong, determined Aboriginal woman committed to growing and empowering Aboriginal communities. I like to challenge myself and the status quo. I hold my leadership responsibilities high and my responsibilities to our Aboriginal communities is principal to my focus.

There is a quote that has always resonated with me:

‘To my mind, you cannot speak about the need for leadership within our communities without being prepared to take on responsibility yourself. It’s not enough to point the finger at those who have let us down and to expect others to come forward and fix our problems. Nor can anyone afford to call themselves a leader unless they truly have the interests of our community at heart….” - Jackie Huggins