Inspiring Australians recognised in the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards

Reconciliation Australia congratulates the inspiring group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 2013 Australian of the Year state and territory finalists.

In particular this year, Reconciliation Australia CEO Leah Armstrong is delighted to see Reconciliation Australia Co-chair Dr Tom Calma AO, staff member Mr Bill Bashford and non-Indigenous Board Director Dr Ken Henry AC amongst the ACT finalists.

“I am thrilled that Tom, Ken and Bill have been included as state finalists for the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards,” Ms Armstrong said. “It’s great to see their tireless, hard work being publicly recognised by the National Australia Day Council.”

“Although they each work in different spheres of influence, Tom, Ken and Bill are united in their vision for reconciliation and building a fairer future for all.

“It’s great to see so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being acknowledged for the work they do—especially for demonstrating good leadership and providing young kids with solid role models they can look up to,” Ms Armstrong said.

“I would also like to congratulate the non-Indigenous Australians that are working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, across many different sectors, who have also been selected as 2013 Australian of the Year state and territory finalists.”

Other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous finalists include:


  • Ms Casey Keed, dancer and community youth leader.
  • Mr Gordon Gregory OAM, rural health advocate.



  • Dr Anita Heiss, author and Indigenous literacy advocate.
  • Mr Shane Phillips, Aboriginal and community leader.



  • Professor Alex Brown, Indigenous health advocate.
  • Dr David Gawler, surgeon and teacher.
  • Ms Evonne Thompson, health worker and carer.
  • Mr Jeffrey Lee AM, heritage custodian.
  • Ms Jessica Mauboy, singer and actor.
  • Mr Mark Grose and Mr Michael Hohnen, Indigenous talent mentors.
  • Mr Paul Taylor, heritage campaigner.
  • Mr Peter Fletcher, youth campaigner.
  • Dr Sadhana Mahajani, community physician.
  • Mr Scott Weily and Mrs Penny Weily, foster parents.
  • Dr Susan Sayers, pediatrician and researcher.



  • Aunty Joan Hendriks, reconciliation and education advocate.



  • Mr Graham Atkinson, Aboriginal Elder and land justice activist.



  • Rima Chahoud, Mental health activist.



  • Professor Kim Scott, author.
  • Ms Caroline de Mori, Indigenous health advocate.
  • Mr Akram Azimi, Indigenous mentor.


“I wish everyone across all four categories the very best of luck in the state finals, as it is a great honour to be selected as a finalist in the Australian of the Year Awards.

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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