Ambassadors talk recognition for reconciliation

High profile Victorians Mark Olive, Stephanie Alexander, Wayne Quilliam and Kevin Kropinyeri have all pledged their support for reconciliation by becoming ambassadors for National Reconciliation Week (May 27-June 3).

A Bundjalung chef who is passionate about fusing native food and culture with modern lifestyle cooking, Mark Olive runs an Indigenous catering company in North Melbourne. He is committed to reconciliation as a way of recognising the past and realising a better future.

“Reconciliation is about recognising what Indigenous people have been through, the struggle that they’re still facing, but also how Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people and other Australians can work together and make this a really unique country that works in harmony and shares knowledge and cultures,” says Mark.

“Reconciliation is about being patient, being respectful of each other and understanding where we come from and what opportunities we have in this country.”

Originally from the Ngarrindjeri Nation of the Lower River Murray in South Australia but now Melbourne-based, comedian Kevin Kropinyeri signed up as an ambassador because he believes acknowledging Australia’s past and showing forgiveness is important personally and as Australians.

“White Australia needs to deal with the truth about its history and how it’s dealt with the first nations here. At the same time I’ve dealt with a lot of racism in this country and I wouldn’t be where I am today as a husband, father and successful comedian if I hadn’t learnt how to forgive and move forward,” Kevin says.

“We all have spheres of influence and within them, we need to recognise the truth but also promote forgiveness. A great place to start with Reconciliation in this beautiful country of ours, is with the truth!

Other Melbourne-based ambassadors are Stephanie Alexander, who has written one of Australia’s best loved cookbooks The Cook’s Companion and Adjunct Professor Wayne Quilliam, one of Australia’s leading Indigenous photographic artists. Nationally, ambassadors include actor Hugh Jackman, Triple J Breakfast presenter Alex Dyson and singer/ actress Casey Donovan, first Aboriginal female Archdeacon Karen Kime and Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston (ret’d).

Reconciliation Australia is calling on individuals, community groups, schools and businesses to register their National Reconciliation Week events at our website launched today

Reconciliation Australia is the peak body promoting reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

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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