Bittersweet day as Gordon Gray retires

“I’m going to catch one this big,” says Gordon Gray as he celebrates his retirement as Bundiyarra’s Environmental Health Coordinator with Bundiyarra Board Chair, Ross Oakley, CEO Marchelle Retallack, and Darren West, Labor Member for the Agricultural Region.

“I’m going to catch one this big,” says Gordon Gray as he celebrates his retirement as Bundiyarra’s Environmental Health Coordinator with Bundiyarra Board Chair, Ross Oakley, CEO Marchelle Retallack, and Darren West, Labor Member for the Agricultural Region.

It was an emotional day on 31 March when after 13 years as Coordinator of the Bundiyarra Environmental Health Team, well-known Geraldton identity, Gordon Gray, hung up his hat to go fishing – or as he said: “Open the gate to the long yard”.

More than 50 people farewelled the popular Aboriginal issues advocate at Bundiyarra with some heart-felt words of thanks from Bundiyarra and other colleagues.

Gordon started at Bundiyarra Aboriginal Community Aboriginal Corporation (BACAC) in 2003 as a project planning officer, continuing a life of hard work devoted to the Aboriginal community.

A clearly emotional Gordon said: “I just want to thank you all for being a large part of my life for a long time. It has simply been a pleasure to work with you.

“My intention right now is take a break for a while and see what comes out of that.”

Gordon began his working life where he was born and bred - in Jerramungup in the South East of WA.

He built up his extensive experience working with regional communities after a decade of working around the Murchison on a shearing team. At one time he was the only field staff member to have serviced every community in the Kalgoorlie Regional Office area including places as far flung as Esperance, Kiwirrkurra and Tjuntjuntjarra.

Gordon spent more than 15 years at the [now defunct] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC); and has also worked at Durack Institute of Technology as a training officer.

Gordon Gray brought a wealth of expertise, practical experience and life skills to the role of Coordinator Environmental Health at Bundiyarra and has been a mentor to many.

He has sat – and still sits – on many Aboriginal boards and committees; he’s Chairperson of the Midwest Aboriginal Organisation Alliance (MAOA), Deputy Chair of Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (GRAMS); is on the committee of the Aboriginal Education, Employment and Training Committee (AEETC) through Durack Institute of Technology; and enjoys a second term on the WA Aboriginal Advisory Council.

“‘Retirement’ will free me up to devote more time to other projects particularly (MAOA),” he said.

“I’m going to take a break for a while; but I’ll still be around and busy.”

BACAC Board Chairperson, Ross Oakley, said Gordon will be sorely missed at Bundiyarra, and thanked him for his long commitment to the corporation.

“In May this year, Bundiyarra will have been operating at this address for 18 years, of this time, Gordon has been here for 13. His contribution has helped shape the range of programs and services offered.

“He will be greatly missed,” he said.

Bundiyarra CEO, Marchelle Retallack, expressed her sadness at Gordon’s departure but said she was very pleased he is off to enjoy retirement.

“I have never had the opportunity before to work alongside a man like Gordon. He is very humble in his approach, and has provided me with a wealth of knowledge and embraced sharing Aboriginal culture.

“Gordon has become a huge part of my personal and profession life and I will miss him dearly,” Marchelle said.