Because of her, we can – Kirstie Parker

Ms Kirstie Parker is a Yuwullarai woman from northwest NSW and Director of Reconciliation Australia.

She has had a distinguished career of more than 25 years in a range of fields, including Indigenous journalism, communications and management of Indigenous organisations.

Ms Parker has served as the editor of national Indigenous newspaper the Koori Mail, media advisor to former Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Robert Tickner, and head of public affairs for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

She has also held positions as Chief Executive Officer of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, Director of the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute – Tandanya, and Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

Ms Parker has received multiple awards for her achievements and contributions, including an Australian Peacewoman Award in 2015, and was named in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac inaugural 100 Women of Influence Awards in 2012.

What or who got you involved in reconciliation? 

I joined Reconciliation Australia in 2011 but have been consciously committed to reconciliation my whole life, certainly before it became ‘a thing’. My Aboriginal mum and non-Aboriginal dad raised us kids to treat all others with kindness and respect – irrespective of colour, culture, religion, gender or bank balance – and to insist on the same in return. That’s ingrained in us as adults and I’m grateful for that.

What does a reconciled Australia look like to you?

To me, a reconciled Australia is one where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take their rightful place in the sun. This means that our rights as First Australians are not just respected but championed in all the places that matter, whether in houses of parliament or legislature, on suburban streets or social media. It means that the nation’s full history is on the record, well known and broadly accepted, and that we and non-Indigenous Australians can discuss that history in a safe, calm and good-humoured way and use the learnings from it in our current and future relationships.

What do you see as the biggest challenges to national reconciliation?

I’m totally smitten with and proud of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, values, courage and dignity, and I’m convinced that many more Australians would feel the same way – if they only truly knew us. This, in turn, would lead to better treatment of our issues. So, an important first, if not biggest, challenge is helping others to see and know us, while taking into consideration all the reasons for resistance and accepting that many of our own mobs feel bruised and exhausted from the past. No matter when or where opportunity knocks – at the local bus stop or on talkback airwaves – we must step up and answer.

To me, a reconciled Australia is one where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take their rightful place in the sun.

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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