NAIDOC Week: Always was, always will be

NAIDOC Week 2020 logo

This year, despite the change in date and the circumstances of 2020, NAIDOC Week is once again bringing us together to celebrate the histories, cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This year’s theme, Always Was, Always Will Be, recognises that First Nations peoples have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.

It invites all Australians to embrace the true history of this country—a history that dates back thousands of generations.

It also reminds us of the more recent political history of our peoples.

Always was, always will be—as a belief, a chant, and a fundamental understanding about the truth of Australia—has been part of the soundtrack of my life at events of protest and celebration.

We also often hear these words in Welcomes to, and Acknowledgements of, Country.

We acknowledge, accept and understand that no matter where we are across this nation, we are living and working on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands.

When we open our minds to learning about the true history of this nation, we can acknowledge the wrongdoings and take positive steps to ensure that history is never repeated.

Always Was, Always Will Be is a timely reminder of the importance of historical acceptance and truth-telling which is key to reconciliation.

Historical acceptance means that Australians recognise, understand, and accept the wrongs of the past and the impact of these wrongs on First Peoples.

This year’s NAIDOC Week will be memorable, and we will see the same strength and innovation in being a part of this week virtually, as we saw during our virtual National Reconciliation Week (NRW) earlier this year.

The unprecedented support of NRW 2020 was an extraordinary testimony to the resilient engagement with reconciliation, even in times of upheaval.

I am confident we will see the same support of NAIDOC Week this year and I encourage everyone to celebrate, commemorate and connect this NAIDOC Week, as we remember Always Was, Always Will Be.

Karen Mundine
Chief Executive Officer, Reconciliation Australia

Find 2020 NAIDOC Week events and celebrations near you.

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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