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Nine years ago, Sean Gordon

became CEO of Darkinjung Local

Aboriginal Land Council in Wyong,

New South Wales. The largest

private landholder on the Central

Coast, with direct accountability to

its members and the community,

Darkinjung seeks to effectively

manage property assets to provide

direct and tangible benefits to

Indigenous people.

The organisation had sold a parcel

of land to a major developer for

tens of millions of dollars but was

in administration. Funds were

held in external entities, and Sean

could see that a structured, well-

governed organisation needed to

be built from scratch.

Under Sean’s leadership,

Darkinjung strategically

developed land assets, housing

and employment programs,

and successful corporate

partnerships to become an

effective organisation living up to

its mandate. It was supported by

over 50 Jawun secondees working

on project briefs ranging from

business cases for commercial

developments to human resources

and work health and safety


Crucially, Sean has used

connections with corporate

partners, made through Jawun’s

network, to bring real returns

for community. In 2014, James

Corbett, Commonwealth Bank’s

regional general manager

responsible for branches in

New South Wales and the ACT,

went on a Jawun Executive Visit

to the Central Coast. He met

Sean at Darkinjung, where

12 Commonwealth Bank employees

have completed secondments

since 2012. They agreed to work

together to get Indigenous

trainees into Commonwealth Bank

branches on the Central Coast,

in what became a feature of the

bank’s Reconciliation Action


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In 2017, seven Indigenous

school-based trainees and four

full-time trainees were working in

Commonwealth Bank branches in

Darkinjung Country. A ‘technology

traineeship’ pilot is also underway,

with five Indigenous trainees

recruited through Darkinjung

working in the bank’s head office

IT department but remotely, from

their communities. Sean explains:

We’ve managed to

get a trainee in every

Commonwealth Bank

outlet on the Central Coast,

and Darkinjung led the

recruitment process. That

worked extremely well and

we’ve now got some back-

end positions in IT in local

branches too, ones that

would normally be done in

Sydney are now being done

by Aboriginal trainees here

Sean Gordon, Darkinjung Local

Aboriginal Land Council—

collaborating for community


Sean Gordon at Darkinjung Barker College