AM, Hon .Dlitt (WA)
Meekatharra, Western Australia, Australia
- Commissioner, Justice of the Peace, Lawyer, Magistrate and Public servant
Dr Sue Gordon AM has achieved many 'firsts' during her career. In 1986, she was the first Aboriginal person to head a government department in Western Australia, as Commissioner for Aboriginal Planning; in 1988 she was WA's first Aboriginal magistrate and first full-time children's court magistrate; and in 1990 she was one of five commissioners appointed by federal Labor minister Gerry Hand to the first board of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).
Gordon has been appointed by state and federal governments, on both sides of politics, to various positions. In 2002 she was appointed by the Premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, to head an inquiry into family violence and child abuse in Western Australian Aboriginal communities. One outcome of the Gordon Inquiry was closure of the controversial Swan Valley Noongar Camp. In 2004, she was appointed Chair of the new National Indigenous Council, an advisory body to the Federal Government, following the winding down of ATSIC. She chaired the Northern Territory Emergency Response Taskforce from June 2007 to June 2008 before retiring from the bench in September 2008.
In retirement, Gordon has remained very active in a variety of organisations. Currently (2016) president of the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation and the Police and Community Youth Centres Federation of WA (PCYC) Board, to name only a couple of her appointments, her special long term project is Sister Kate's Aged Persons Project, supported by the Indigenous Land Corporation and Aboriginal Hostels Limited.
Gordon received the Order of Australia award in 1993 as acknowledgement of her work with Aboriginal people and community affairs. In 2003 she received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (Hon. DLitt) from the University of Western Australia, the same year she was awarded the 'Centenary Medal' for service to the community, particularly the Aboriginal community.
Sue Gordon was interviewed by Nikki Henningham for the Trailblazing Women and the Law Oral History Project. For details of the interview see the National Library of AustraliaCATALOGUE RECORD.