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Mob Pod: Leanne King: Wollombi Aboriginal Cultural Experiences and Elder in Residence at Westpac Group

Aunty Leanne King is a Dhurug Elder, who runs Wollombi Aboriginal Cultural Experience and is Westpac’s Elder-in-Residence. Westpac’s Lisa Gissing talks to Aunty Leanne about her business journey and her thoughts on NAIDOC 2023.


LG: Hello everyone, I’m Lisa Gissing from Westpac and today we are privileged to be speaking with Aunty Leanne King, a Dhurug Elder who has been sharing her cultural knowledge for over 30 years. Aunty Leanne runs Wollombi Aboriginal Cultural Experiences based in Wollombi in the Hunter Valley of NSW and has recently joined the Westpac Group as our first Elder in Residence to provide support to our First Nations team members.


LG: Welcome Aunty Leanne.

LK: Thank you for that big wrap

LG: Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the various lands in which we are on today and pay my respects to elders both past and present. Today I am on Wiradjuri country in Wagga Wagga, in southern NSW.


I also acknowledge and pay respects to those here today who identify as being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and recognise the diversity of Indigenous peoples, countries and culture in Australia.

As Australia’s first bank, we acknowledge our role in supporting an inclusive and diverse nation where all of our cultural backgrounds are recognised and respected.


LG: Aunty Leanne let’s start today with your story and how you came to operate Wollombi Aboriginal Cultural Experiences.

LK: Thank you very much for that Lisa. Um yes my journey started 30 or 40 years ago or even, longer when you start looking at identity and you try to work out who I actually was and where I was going to go or what directions I was going to take in my life.


LK:  Back in the nineties I decided that I needed to go to to university. And I did one degree which is a Bachelor of Ed, in Adult Ed.

And then I went on to do a Masters. And from that point I started working in universities and ended up a senior lecturer.


LK: So, I’ve worked at a couple of the universities. And and in the um field of Aboriginal history, culture, spirituality. Teaching Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples about culture and what it really means.


LK: So I’ve been on a journey of learning, sharing and teaching for 30 odd years now. And I decided that you know sort of doing it in that little box and in the institution was not kind of the way to go

So, well moved up here and started the business of sharing knowledge and I guess what the old people out in the desert used to say was um ‘growing people up’.


LG: And what’s one thing you’ve learnt from being in business? And I guess what advice would you give other community members aspiring to be business owners?

LK: I think coming from the world of academia and never being in business before. The big thing is and one one of my downfalls is I’ve always thought, ‘yeah I can do it myself’.


LK:  Like the more help you can um get. Different expertise. Like I had no idea on accountancy.

I had no idea on you know booking systems. I had no idea on a whole lot of things within you know running a say a tourism or educational business. So not being afraid to ask for help is one of the biggest lessons.


LG: Thinking then now to the younger First Nations team members at Westpac Group what’s one lesson you wish you knew about money at their age?

LK: Tricky question. Um I think where to get it. Like you know sort of in starting up a business there’s a lot of financial output.


LK: I was was fortunate enough that you know I did have some savings there so that was, yeah, I think that’s where to get the funds and how to access your mentors. And and I think that’s really another big thing in getting a business is trying to find a really good mentor.


LK: Someone who, someone that has been in business for quite some time and has a knowledge on how to run the business. For the young, um young ones through Westpac Group um, yeah I think it’s all about sort of where, where can you access the funds that you may need and knowing. And I think one of the big things is putting a um business plan together as well. That is something that I never had any idea that I would even need. But yeah.


LG: And what do you see as the most important part of your role at Westpac?

LK: I think the most important part is sharing and and respecting each other for the knowledges that we have or we don’t have. Um and that’s the Indigenous staff and also the non-Indigenous staff.


LK: You know so far its been you know so so welcoming and people are keen to learn. So that big part of sharing and walking together is really really important.

LG: And finally, the theme for NAIDOC week this year is For Our Elders? What does NAIDOC week mean to you and how will you be celebrating the week this year?


LK: For our elders is really really important and having their, the Elder’s knowledge recognised for whatever or wherever they’re from. That respect is a big part of our whole world and you know sort of they’re the ones that have done the hard yards for all these years and um yeah for them to be recognised is really really important.


LK: And how will I be celebrating it? I’ll probably be be working. But hopefully I will get to a few of the community events to get out there. And I think that that’s another important thing to get out there and mix with community and walk with them.


LG: Today we’ve been speaking with Aunty Leanne King. Thank you so much for your time today.

LK: Thank you Lisa


The information contained in this presentation is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness of the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.


Acknowledgement to Country

Westpac acknowledges the First Peoples of Australia and recognises their ongoing role as Traditional Owners of the land and waters of this country. We acknowledge Westpac’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees, partners, and stakeholders, and pay our respects to their Elders, both past and present. 

Things you should know

The choices and decisions made by Leanne King are her own and this podcast is about her journey and not intended to be advice. This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. 

© Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 233714.