Cass Goodwin is a proud Yuin and Wiradjuri woman who grew up in Canberra and now lives in Sydney. She is currently the Indigenous Rugby Manager for the Australian Rugby Union and has previously worked on the Recognise Campaign raising community awareness and support for constitutional change to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution and in the community section of Qantas Airways Ltd.
She has more than 10 years’ experience working in Indigenous affairs across public and private sectors with a strong passion in protecting cultural heritage and land.
Cass currently sits on the Board of Management for the Gulaga National Park, is a member of the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Lands Council and a Panel Member for the City of Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel.
Where are you from?
Through my Nan’s side I am Wiradjuri from Narrandera and through my Pop’s I’m Yuin spread along the Far South Coast of NSW and also have strong ties to La Perouse. I was raised in Canberra and now call Sydney home.
What do you do?
I manage Indigenous engagement and programs for Australia Rugby Union.
What is one of the best decisions you have made?
Leaving Canberra to move to Sydney to further my career aspirations. The move also gave me the opportunity to spend quality time with my Pop before his passing.
What is one of the worst decisions you have made?
This is a hard question, yes I have made some not so great decisions but for me every step I have made whether good or bad has shaped me and taught me something. I think the good decisions are just as important as the bad, it’s just how we move on from those milestones shapes us.
What are some of the barriers to female leadership?
For me it’s asking for help, admitting when I’m struggling and letting people in to assist me. It’s taken me a while to admit leadership isn’t singular, leadership is a collective effort, I need to remind myself to draw from those around me, learn from my ancestors and elders and utilise the expertise I have around me to achieve goals. My success is not only for me but for my fellow women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
It’s taken me a while to admit leadership isn’t singular, leadership is a collective effort, I need to remind myself to draw from those around me, learn from my ancestors and elders and utilise the expertise I have around me to achieve goals.
What women have inspired you?
My Mum has most definitely been my inspiration. As the matriarch of the family she didn’t get the education she should’ve and worked from a young age to provide for her family. When she was older and had a family of her own she went back to study and got a university degree even with a child and a husband in the Army. She is the strongest and most resilient person I know and I constantly draw on her strength.
What advice would you give to empower the next generation of women?
Never compromise who you are, women, especially Indigenous women, are very strong willed and generally know what we want. It might be difficult at times but the feeling of achievement is well worth it. Also know you are never alone, there are many women walking right beside you every step of the way, many voices are better than one!
What would you say to men about equality?
It’s happening so jump on board or be left behind!
What exciting project do you have coming up?
I’m lucky enough to have created Rugby Union’s first ever Indigenous program for school children. The program, ‘Deadly 7s’, is currently running in Primary Schools across Australia teaching children about the importance of getting a quality education and promoting the benefits of living a long and healthy life while also getting a first taste of Rugby Union. The program has been a fantastic success and I have been able to get approval to now enter into High Schools. This is the first time Rugby Union has entered highly populated Indigenous areas around Australia and I’m very excited to see the change in a sport which is typically a non-Indigenous male dominated arena.
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International Women’s Month series
Throughout the month of March we’re continuing our question and answer series with inspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to celebrate International Women’s Month. We want everyone – men and women – to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias.
Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.
We are also recognising the achievements of some amazing women that have inspired us by sharing some of their valuable advice and how they are doing their part to empower women.