2013: a year of successes. 2014: a year of challenges

Among the reconciliation highlights were the election of Adam Giles to the position of NT Chief Minister therefore becoming the first Aboriginal parliamentary leader in Australia’s history.

Other highlights include; the election of Senator Nova Peris, the first Aboriginal woman to the Federal Parliament; the passing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s Recognition Act through the Federal Parliament; and a heightened awareness and intolerance of racism following the abuse of Aboriginal AFL star Adam Goodes.

Reconciliation Australia’s impact continued to increase with the launch of the 500th Reconciliation Action Plan and further evidence of the impact of our RAP program with the 2014 RAP Impact Evaluation Report finding that RAP partners employ nearly 26,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and have purchased around $81 million of services from certified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.

We have developed a new schools program which will roll out a new engagement model next year to enable schools and communities to create genuine and meaningful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians in the thousands of Australian early childhood, primary and secondary schools.

In further evidence of the growth of reconciliation a record 700 events were listed during National Reconciliation Week 2013 across urban, regional and remote Australia.

Our Workplace Ready program was delivered to more than 40 major employers as part of an organised effort to increase the retention of Aboriginal workers and create socially inclusive workplaces.

Despite these advances we still have a long way to reach Reconciliation Australia’s goal of an equitable Australia where all her citizens can reach their full potential. The challenges for 2014 include progressing the people’s movement for constitutional recognition of Australia’s Indigenous peoples.

With the tightening of the Federal budget it is essential that we do not lose the momentum built over past years towards advancing equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Improved relationships of trust and better engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by governments and the private sector will be critical in achieving this and recent announcements of cuts to legal aid and National Congress are of concern.

Empowerment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities is vital and effective governance will remain critical to success and in 2014 we will again host the Indigenous Governance Awards with our partner BHP Billiton. These awards will once again highlight the strength and breadth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander initiative and entrepreneurship.

We are encouraged that despite a legacy of racism and disempowerment Australians from diverse backgrounds and experiences continue to play a part in our journey towards a nation built on respect, relationships and equal opportunities.

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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