Lachlan McDaniel

Lachlan McDaniel

Job title

Senior Advisor Indigenous Affairs.

Who do you work for?


Where is your job based?


What does your job involve?

My job involves building relationships and projects between Telstra staff and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Why did you choose to work in this sector?

I saw the influence a big company like Telstra has and wanted to see how that could be used to make positive changes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations.

What is the most rewarding part of your current job?

The most rewarding part of my job is when a project is done and you can see that there is a positive change in a community or for an organisation.

What has been one of your recent achievements?

Recently I just finished coordinating a six-week campaign getting staff at Telstra involved with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, organisations and culture. It spanned from the start of National Reconciliation Week and ran through to the end of NAIDOC Week.

We had almost 1,000 people get involved and it was great to see how keen my colleagues were to learn about Australia’s First Peoples.

What is the most challenging part of your current job?

The most challenging part of my job is to get people to think about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when it might not be something that they have done a lot of before. However, once people become involved with our cultures and communities they are hooked and can’t believe how they had lived in Australia and not known about these amazing peoples and cultures.

What do you hope to do in the future?

In the future I hope to make more effective changes to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to achieve what they want to. I don’t have any specific ideas on how I’ll do that, but that’s ok. I’ve found that great opportunities come forward when you focus on what you are doing now and do your best.

What are some of the benefits of your job?

The benefits of my work is being able to with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture every day and make a real impact on the opportunities available to us. Whether that’s helping support Indigenous businesses by getting Telstra to do more business with them, or making non-Indigenous people more aware of the positive aspects of our communities, it’s a huge privilege to do this work.

What training did you have for this job?

In terms of my education, I went to Bankstown Grammar School in South-West Sydney. I did English, Biology, PDHPE, Agriculture and Modern History. I didn’t do very well at school and only stayed because I didn’t know what I wanted to do for work. After school I found it really hard to get interesting work. I was mainly working in factories and wanted to challenge my mind a bit more. That’s when I realised education is important to get you to the places you want to be in life.

With that in mind I applied to Macquarie University’s Indigenous entry program. I wanted to do a Bachelor of Arts focusing on Indigenous Studies. My Dad said I should try Law too and so I put it down thinking I would never be accepted. To my surprise I got in and six years later I completed a Bachelor of Arts/Laws.

Why is mathematics important in your job?

Maths is important in my job to track how effective my work is. I have to keep track of how much money is going out to door to support programs, and weigh this up against the impact it is having, which is also measured in numbers.

For example, I have to measure the dollars I have spent versus the number of people we have engaged, the number of people who have been reached by my work, the amount of time that I have to put into the project, and so on.

It’s not rocket science but it’s very important to be able to prove not only that you’ve been working hard, but that the work that you are doing is achieving strong results.

How do you use digital technologies in your job?

Digital technology is central to Telstra. As we are heading further into the Digital Age Telstra is increasingly becoming a technology company, where we used to just be a telephone company.

This affects my job a lot because I have to tie my work to the company’s focus. A lot of the time this involves getting programs off the ground that strengthen our community’s skills with technology while teaching our people about how to protect themselves online.

An example of this where I worked on a program that went around NSW getting primary school kids to sit down with their Elders and show them how to use iPads while recording the stories the Elders wanted to tell.

Other than that I have to be across all my Microsoft Office tools, and particularly Outlook for my emails.

What career advice would you give to school students interested in a similar career?

My advice is not to worry if you don’t know what you want to do. Just try some things, do your best and see if you like them. It’s ok if you decide you don’t want to do continue with what you’re doing or fail. Everyone fails and it’s the best kind of experience you can learn from. Just be brave and give some things a try.