Now more than ever Australians recognise the truth of 26 January

More Australians are actively re-evaluating what our national day stands for and how we can create a better country – one that all Australians, including First Nations people, are proud to celebrate. 

The National Reconciliation Week 2024 theme, Now More Than Ever is a reminder to us all that, no matter what, the fight for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will – and must – continue.     

Since 1788 Australian history is one of unending struggle by First Nations peoples for recognition of rights.    

The fulfillment of this long struggle for First Nations rights and a common understanding of our shared history is essential in the creation of a National Day for all Australians.  

Justice, and national pride is dependent on truth. Now more than ever, truth-telling is critical to Australia being able to celebrate this nation together. 

National unity cannot be built on selective versions of history that exclude or silence the voices and experiences of First Nations peoples. 

Truth-telling, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, ensures that Australians can understand an Australian history that reflects all our perspectives and experiences of it. 

Every year we see what a more united and reconciled nation might look like as growing numbers of Australians attend Survival Day marches, concerts, and festivals, on 26 January. This unity built on an acceptance of a shared history aligns with the most recent Australian Reconciliation Barometer (ARB), which shows a growing awareness of the impact colonisation has had on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

86% of the general community and 89% of First Nations people support Australians learning more about past historical issues which have affected First Nations peoples. 

More Australians now understand the need to broaden understanding of history from different perspectives and consider how we mark these occasions; 82% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 70% people in the general community support the creation of shared Australian icons that celebrate national unity and identity, including a National Day of Significance that celebrates First Nations histories and cultures.’ 

This increasing reassessment of 26 January and our national day of celebration is a cause for optimism, a sign of growing maturity in Australia’s attitudes to justice and recognition of First Nations peoples. 

We urge Australians to have respectful conversations about finding a way through the current debate and creating a better and more just country; one that we can all celebrate. 

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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