Because of her, we can – Linda Burney MP

Ms Linda Burney MP is a Wiradjuri woman who overcame extraordinary adversity to become an educator, senior bureaucrat and politician.

She was raised by her non-Indigenous great aunt and uncle at a time when black and white weren’t allowed to mix.

It wasn’t until she was 28-years-old that Ms Burney met her Aboriginal father and discovered she had 10 siblings she hadn’t known about.

Ms Burney began her teaching career in the late 1970s. She has been involved in the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group since the mid-1980s and participated in the development and implementation of the first Aboriginal education policy in Australia.

Later, she held prominent positions in the civil service and various non-government organisations, before entering politics.

When Ms Burney was elected as the Member for Canterbury in 2003, she became the first Aboriginal person to serve in the NSW Parliament. From 2007 to 2011 she served as a Minister in the Labor government in a range of portfolios, including Community Services.

After 13 years on the NSW parliament, Ms Burney won the federal seat of Barton at the 2016 general election. In doing so, she became the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives.

I say this in the strongest possible terms: Governments come and go. Public opinion waves and wanes. We ain’t going nowhere. This is our country. We will never forgo the pursuit of our rights.

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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