Danielle Captain-Webb: Empowering her community's voice

Photo of a woman with long dark hair and nude lipstick, wearing a black shirt and gold necklace. She is smiling at the camera.
While she would never call herself a community leader, Danielle Captain-Webb is determined to use her knowledge and experience to empower her community and ensure their voice is heard.

“I feel really empowered by my community. They have entrusted me with a position where I am their voice, and I want to make sure that they are heard,” says Danielle.

As a criminal lawyer, Chair of the Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council (Darkinjung LALC) and previous recipient of UNSW’s Shalom Gamarada Residential Scholarship, it’s fair to say that Danielle’s knowledge, achievements and experience supports her in this ambition.

Leading for land rights

In reflecting on the decades of activism in the land rights movement, Danielle is now looking to how Aboriginal Land Councils can activate their land and assets for the good of their communities into the future.

“Some land councils across NSW are now transcending into activating land to create economic wealth. This allows us to achieve social, economic, cultural, and environmental outcomes for our community.”

Darkinjung LALC is one of the largest Aboriginal land councils in Australia and the largest private landowner on the Central Coast of NSW, with over 600 members and $21 million in managed investments. The Darkinjung LALC activates its resources to deliver community benefits to the Central Coast Aboriginal community.

“We’re currently in a critical growth phase and seizing opportunities to deliver the current and emerging aspirations of the Central Coast Aboriginal community. We hope to achieve these aspirations, which will empower the next generation of Aboriginal people and also share the rich Aboriginal cultural heritage of the Central Coast with the broader community.”

Skills building for community outcomes

As part of this focus, and in helping her to navigate an often complex world of red tape, government bodies and asset management, Danielle is keen to continue focusing on her studies with the Centre for Social Impact.

Danielle is studying a Graduate Diploma in Social Impact at CSI UNSW and is the recipient of CSI’s inaugural Indigenous women's scholarship.

She believes the knowledge and skills she is gaining through the course will allow her to approach her land rights work with a greater level of empowerment and understanding.

“I believe this course will allow me to build the critical capabilities to deliver greater social impact within my organisation and across the Central Coast.”

In particular, Danielle has taken a lot from the impact-driven approaches to leadership she is learning about - which she believes can be a game changer for empowering communities.

Disrupting the status quo

Frustrated by the barriers and inertia in government, Danielle is ultimately hoping that Darkinjung LALC can disrupt the status quo by challenging the current structures and systems that are in place.

Her desire to previously study criminal law also came from this place of activism; a desire to create systemic change for her community, from the inside.

“Aboriginal Land Rights have been built on a foundation of disruption. Our old people fought to establish Land Rights and now my generation are building upon the foundation they have laid to achieve outcomes,” she says.

While Danielle believes her law degree and career experience has given her the advocacy skills she needs, her studies in social impact are allowing her to look at the systems and structures more holistically.

The triggers and levers that her land council needs to push are becoming clearer, and she now feels much better placed to achieve the positive impact her community wants to see.

“I think that by doing this course I will learn the strategies that I need to make sure we are heard.”