2013 Australian of the Year winners & nominees congratulated

Reconciliation Australia Chief Executive Leah Armstrong has extended her heart-felt congratulations to community leader and Aboriginal mentor Shane Phillips for receiving an Australian of the Year Award.

Speaking at the event in Canberra tonight, Ms Armstrong said Mr Phillips was a very deserving winner of the Local Hero category.

“Shane lives and breathes reconciliation and is an inspirational role model to many Australians—particularly young Aboriginal people living in Redfern,” Ms Armstrong said.

“The work he is doing through the Clean Slate without Prejudice program and Tribal Warrior Association is helping to empower young Aboriginal people and build better relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“I’m thrilled that his hard work has been recognised with such a highly prestigious national award.” This year, 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians were selected as state or territory finalists. Of those, three went through to the national finals:

Dr Tom Calma AO ACT Australian of the Year 2013 Mr Shane Phillips NSW Local Hero 2013 Ms Jessica Mauboy NT Young Australian of the Year 2013

In addition six non-Indigenous Australians were honoured for their work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

  • Mr Akram Azimi WA – Young Australian of the Year 2013
  • Ms Caroline de Mori WA – Australian of the Year 2013
  • Mr Mark Grose and Mr Michael Hohnen NT – Australian of the Year 2013
  • Dr Sadhana Mahajani NT – Senior Australian of the Year 2013
  • Mr Peter Fletcher NT – Local Hero 2013


Ms Armstrong also congratulated 25-year-old Akram Azimi, who was named 2013 Young Australian of the Year for his work in mentoring young Aboriginal people in remote and rural Western Australia.

“Reconciliation Australia recognises all of the Indigenous finalists—and those non-Indigenous Australians working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—in this year’s Awards for their deep and diverse contributions to the nation,” Ms Armstrong said.

“Inspirational figures are important for reconciliation—not only do they inspire the nation but they inspire individuals.”

“Whether you call it Australia Day, Invasion Day or Survival Day, January 26 is a time to acknowledge successful and inspiring Australians and what they add to this nation—and that is very important for reconciliation.”

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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