Born at Belele Station, near Meekatharra, Western Australia in 1944, she was separated from her mother and family at the age of four and raised at Sister Kate's home in Queens Park, Western Australia. After leaving school, she joined the army as a full-time soldier and between 1961 and 1964 was a full-time member of the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC) based mostly in the eastern states.
Following her army career she worked in various administrative positions around Australia and, in the early 1970s, started a long association with the Pilbara region, working mostly in Aboriginal Affairs with both urban and traditional people. She was awarded the National Aboriginal Overseas Study Award to study employment programs with a number of American Indian communities in the United States in 1977.
As a result of her work with Aboriginal people and community affairs, she received the Order of Australia award in 1993.
She was appointed as Commissioner for Aboriginal Planning in 1986, becoming the first Aboriginal person to head a government department in Western Australia, and in 1988 was appointed as a magistrate in the Perth Children's Court, at which time she was the first full-time and first Aboriginal magistrate in the state's history.
In 1990, she was appointed as one of the first five commissioners of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), for one year.
In 2002, she was appointed to head an inquiry into family violence and child abuse in Western Australian Aboriginal communities by the Premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop. The inquiry was known as the "Gordon Inquiry" and resulted in the closure of the controversial Swan Valley Noongar Camp. The inquiry came about as a result of a November 2001 report by the State Coroner on the death of a teenage girl at the Swan Valley Camp. The coroner found that the girl had encountered "sexual violation, violence, and the ravages of alcohol and substance abuse. In desperation, and despite contact with several Government agencies, she died in tragic circumstances at the age of 15." The report by the inquiry ran to over 640 pages and made 197 findings and recommendations.
On 15 April 2004, Senator Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Indigenous Affairs appointed her as head of the new National Indigenous Council, an advisory body to the Federal Government, following the winding down of ATSIC. Following her appointment, she was interviewed and asked for her views on the Stolen Generation, and whether she would seek an apology from Prime Minister, John Howard, to which she replied:
"No. I personally didn't want an apology because it should have gone to my mother. But my mother's passed away now, so it's too late. And what's an apology going to achieve now?"
Other awards include the 'Aboriginal Development Commission Australia Day Council Award' in 1986, the 'Paul Harris Fellow' from the Rotary Club of Perth in 1994 and, in 2003, the 'Centenary Medal' for service to the community, particularly the Aboriginal community.
Dr Sue Gordon chaired the Northern Territory Emergency Response Taskforce from June 2007 to June 2008 
In 2010 Dr Sue Gordon accepted the position of President of The Federation of Western Australian Police and Community Youth Centres (WA PCYC), and still performs in the role. Sue is seeing PCYC undergo many changes in its structure and direction, while it continues to offer targeted and relevant youth activities.
She is widowed with two sons, one a lawyer and the other a civil engineer.
- "Dr Sue Gordon AM". UWA, Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, Teaching and Learning Forum 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-30.
- "Keynote Speaker: Sue Gordon". Australasian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect. Retrieved 2007-04-28.
- Full title: "Inquiry into Response by Government Agencies to Complaints of Family Violence and Child Abuse in Aboriginal Communities"
- "The Gordon Inquiry". Department of the Premier and Cabinet. 2 May 2005. Retrieved 2007-04-30.
- "National Indigenous Council". Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs. 21 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-30.
- Mick O'Donnell (7 December 2004). "Indigenous Council head speaks out". Retrieved 2007-04-28.
- Department of Aboriginal Affairs Website (16 April 2010). "Indigenous Implementation Board membership". Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- Daniel Emerson (28 April 2007). "Blessed is the Peacemaker". The West Australian newspaper. pp. Society liftout page 6, 7.
- Karen Dorante (27 October 2002). "Sue Gordon". Retrieved 2007-04-28.
- "Children's Court". Department of the Attorney general (Western Australia). Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- ""Lunch with Sue Gordon", by Ellen Fanning". The Bulletin (10 August 2007), pp 26-29. Retrieved 2007-11-01.