Constitutiuonal Recognition report release

Reconciliation Australia believes that recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution would prove a huge boost for reconciliation.

Welcoming the report from the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Chief Executive Officer Leah Armstrong said recognition and reconciliation go hand in hand.

“Working together and engaging in ongoing discussions about the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a modern Australia is part of the reconciliation journey,” Ms Armstrong said.

“Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures in our nation’s founding document is a further way to demonstrate the valued place of the First Australians in our national identity.

“Both the Panel’s research and our own Australian Reconciliation Barometer tell us there is an appetite for change that brings the Constitution into line with our modern thinking and values of equality for all Australians.

“Racial discrimination is no longer accepted in our community, in our workplaces and in our daily lives, and it makes no sense that parts of the Constitution continue to permit laws that can discriminate against anyone on the basis of race,” she said.

Constitutional reform has been on the reconciliation agenda since the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation’s final report in 2000, and Ms Armstrong applauded the Panel for a tremendous job in canvassing a broad range of views and opinions and receiving well over 3,000 submissions.

“The Panel has deliberated far and wide and I strongly urge all Australians to read the report so informed debate and discussions can continue,” Ms Armstrong said.

“We have an opportunity to properly recognise the First Australians and to reset the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all Australians. This is fundamental to realising true 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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