Footy fans embrace reconciliation

This year’s NRL Grand Final was a great chance for footy fans to learn more about constitutional recognition as ANTaR and Reconciliation Australia took the Sea of Hands to Sydney Olympic Park.

Using the colours of the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian flags, the sea of 20,000 hands was used to create the ‘Flag of Unity’ designed by Aboriginal artist Adam Hill.

It was encouraging to see so many Manly and Warriors fans keen to learn about how we can recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s founding document.

Despite the rain we attracted quite a few people. Even young guys just here for the game came down to plant a hand—you got a sense that once people knew what it was about they were happy to participate.

Ngarrindjeri man and comedian Kevin Kropinyeri entertained fans during some pre match entertainment—while singer and You Me Unity ambassador Emma Donovan delighted the crowd with a selection of songs in English and Aboriginal languages.

The Sea of Hands event marked the end of the consultation period as the Panel appointed by the Australian Government prepares its report on how constitutional change could be achieved.

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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