Every day Darryl Wright gets up to go to work is a good day.
The chief executive of Macarthur’s Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation loves nothing more than chatting with his staff, meeting local Indigenous people and helping build strong community bonds.
It is this tireless and passionate work that has earned the Airds resident one of Australia’s highest honours.
Mr Wright was today named as a Member of the Order of Australia and can add two shiny new letters to the end of his name: ‘AM’.
The Order of Australia is not unfamiliar to Mr Wright.
“My mum and my aunty both got OAMs years ago,” he said.
“And my ex-mother-in-law got one too – there must be something in the blood.”
Mr Wright has spent his whole life working with Indigenous communities across NSW.
In addition to Tharawal, Mr Wright served has served as National Aboriginal Sports Academy chair, Australian Indigenous Rugby League chair, Corporation for Homeless (Aboriginal Corporation) chair, Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council director and more.
He said his dedication to his community came from his grandparents.
“My grandmother was part of the Stolen Generations and was taken to a girls home in Cootamundra,” Mr Wright said.
“She and my grandfather had a huge impact on me.
“My grandmother always told me, don’t keep anything for yourself, any ideas, always share them and pass them along.
“She said, never talk about yourself as ‘I’, it’s always we.
“She told me to smile and to put others before myself.
“My grandfather told me to always say ‘G’day’ to people, and that would make everything better.”
Mr Wright said he took great pride in working with Indigenous people and helping them better their lives.
He spent many years working in hostels and encouraging people to be independent of welfare.
“That’s another thing my grandmother always said, ‘don’t ever let yourself get stuck on welfare’,” Mr Wright said.
“Once you’re on welfare you give a part of yourself up. You’re never truly your own.
“It’s so important to be free, like the wind.”
His current role at the head of Tharawal is perhaps his most rewarding.
Mr Wright said the corporation offered a whole raft of services – including healthcare, dental, child-minding, parents’ classes and more – to local Aboriginal families.
“I’ve got 140-odd staff here and I’m proud that just about all of my managers are young Aboriginal people,” he said.
“It is important the Aboriginal community sees their own as inspirational and successful and doing something worthwhile.
“This honour is a credit to all of us, to our staff and our community.
“We’re all doing the best we can do.”