Indigenous Australian of the Year finalists recognised

Reconciliation Australia will recognise the contribution that prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians have made to the nation at a special breakfast ceremony tomorrow.

Ahead of Australia Day, Reconciliation Australia CEO Leah Armstrong said it’s important Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be recognised for their contribution and achievements.

“There are a lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people out there that are doing a lot of really good things for their communities, things that often go unacknowledged,” she said.

“This is our chance to say thanks to those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have demonstrated leadership and inspiration to their communities, and to the rest of Australia.”

“It’s also a chance to recognise those non-Indigenous Australians who continue to work to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples—and to promote reconciliation.”

Six of the Australian of the Year Awards finalists will be available to interview on Wednesday, 25th January from 8am to 8.45am at the Glebe Room, Crowne Plaza 1 Binara Street, Canberra.

The finalists include:

Australia’s local hero, ACT: Julie Tongs

Young Australian of the Year, SA: Rebecca Richards

Australian of the Year, SA: Robyn Layton QC

Senior Australian of the Year, NT: Laurie Baymarrwangga will be represented by Dr
Bentley James.

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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