Joint statement on Constitutional Recognition

On the fourth anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, the Australian Reconciliation Network encourages all Australians to consider carefully the recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

An Open Letter to the People of Australia

We believe that recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution is another positive step forward for our nation. The Panel has produced an excellent report that shows viable options exist to achieve this goal.

Many Australians would be surprised to learn that our Constitution currently allows Governments to discriminate against any group on the basis of race. We believe this is out of touch with modern Australia and does not reflect who we are as a nation today.

Historically it has been the Australian people who have lead the way towards reconciliation—overwhelmingly voting YES in the 1967 Referendum to count Aboriginal people in the census, walking across bridges in crowds of hundreds of thousands in a show of reconciliation, and turning out in droves to watch as Kevin Rudd made the formal Apology — unifying moments in our history that should not be forgotten.

Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution continues the unfinished business of the recommendations made by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in 2000.

Extensive community consultations and polling that informed the Panel’s report suggest that changes are worthy and capable of support for a referendum.

We have before us a tremendous opportunity to define our nation’s story and take another step towards a reconciled nation. We share a vision for an Australia which recognises and is proud of our unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, and celebrates the diversity which makes our nation great.

We therefore encourage all Australians to consider carefully the Panel’s proposals to amend the Constitution.


Dr Tom Calma and Ms Melinda Cilento, Reconciliation Australia Co-Chairs
Kristy Masella and Kerrie Murphy, NSW Reconciliation Council Co-Chairs
Aunty Heather Castledine and Peter Jackson, Reconciliation Queensland Inc Co-Chairs
Renai Dean and Keith Gove, Reconciliation Victoria Co-Chairs
Jim Morrison and Keith Bodman, Reconciliation WA Co-Chairs
Prof Peter Buckskin PSM FACE and Hon. Robyn Layton QC, Reconciliation South Australia

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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