Evidence suggests wellbeing of First Australians is improving

Reconciliation Australia has welcomed progress in improvements to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Productivity Commission’s report into Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2014 has found notable improvements across a range of spectrums, including life expectancy, child mortality, school completion and employment rates.

Reconciliation Australia CEO, Justin Mohamed, says “where concerted efforts are being made we are starting to see the results of the long term, sustainable approaches required to make a difference.”

However, he cautioned that progress in key areas “was not a reason to take the foot off the accelerator.”

Of particular concern were the incarceration rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which increased as did the proportion of adults reporting psychological distress and intentional self-harm.

“The findings related to mental health and incarceration are particularly concerning but not new,” Mr Mohamed said.

“What is clear from the report is that in order to make progress in these areas is that leadership and involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is essential,” he said.

“When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are empowered to take the lead anything is possible.”

The OID report reflects feedback from First Australians and organisations which Mr Mohamed says is a positive example of effective consultation and listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“The recent Indigenous Governance Awards highlighted great examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations making their mark and achieving success on their own,” Mr Mohamed said.

“If we are to continue building trust and relationships that will enhance the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians we must see more cooperative approaches with tangible outcomes between First Australians, government, business and the community sector.

“Reconciliation Action Plans are a positive and demonstrable way of breaking down barriers and the new OID indicators relating to valuing Indigenous culture are an encouraging development and further evidence that the journey to reconciling Australia is working,” he said.

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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