Reconciliation Australia selected for United Nations Day Honour

The United Nations Association of Australia New South Wales (UNAA NSW) is delighted to announce that Reconciliation Australia has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 United Nations (UN) Day Honour.

This Honour rightfully belongs to all who have been part of the Reconciliation Australia family over the past 20 years, and our predecessor the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. Since our inception in late 2000, many dedicated and hard-working people – from CEOs and Board Directors to staff members, interns and volunteers – have all contributed to advancing reconciliation in Australia. We deeply appreciate everyone’s loyal and continued advocacy and thank the UNAA (NSW) sincerely for this special Honour.

The UNAA is the pre-eminent not-for-profit institution in Australia to promote the goals and values of the United Nations. Established in 1946, its aim is to inform, inspire, and engage all Australians regarding the critical work of the UN and to create a safer, fairer, and more sustainable world. Around the world, UN Day is marked each year on 24 October to celebrate the entry into force of the UN Charter in 1945.

As part of UNAA (NSW)’s UN Day celebrations, the prestigious UN Day Honour was created to recognise individuals or organisations in Australia that have made a significant contribution to the aims and objectives of the UN, for example in promoting peace and respect for human rights.

Previous recipients of the Honour include The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG (2018) and Mr Michael Legge AM, National Board President, on behalf of the Australian Red Cross (2017).

Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality

This year, the theme of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) high-level political forum was ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality’. In line with this and UNAA’s current focus on raising awareness about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, special consideration was given to nominees with a strong track record of achievement in the areas of Indigenous Reconciliation and Refugees.

From a select shortlist of nominees, Reconciliation Australia was endorsed by the UNAA NSW Executive Committee as the 2019 UN Honour recipient, in recognition of its embodiment of UN humanitarian values with regard to the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Reconciliation Australia has a demonstrated track record of promoting the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, as outlined by the United Nations. As the lead body for Indigenous Reconciliation in Australia, it has set the benchmark for good corporate practice in this area.

Reconciliation Action Plan program

Through Reconciliation Australia, by 2018 almost 1200 organisations (inc. Telstra, Wesfarmers, David Jones, Westpac, Department of Human Services and Royal Flying Doctor Service) had implemented Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs). As a result, around 2.7m Australians (11 per cent of the population) now work in organisations with a RAP endorsed by Reconciliation Australia.

Narragunnawali program

Reconciliation Australia also positively impacts schools through its Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Education program. The program aims to increase awareness among young people about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories, and experiences, helping to build peaceful and respectful relations between Australia’s many cultures. It also empowers teachers and educators to teach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories with curriculum resources and other resources, digital content and a biannual, national awards programs. By the end of June 2019, 17 per cent of all schools and early learning centres in Australia were engaged in the Narragunnawali platform.

The Stolen Generations

As a key partner in the milestone 2008 National Apology to the Stolen Generations and through its ongoing work to address the impact of intergenerational trauma, Reconciliation Australia has also played a vital role in support of restorative justice and truth-telling in Australia.

Together, UNAA NSW considers that these activities have made a significant and enduring contribution towards realising the standard of achievement set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Australia. By conferring the 2019 UN Honour upon Reconciliation Australia, UNAA acknowledges the contribution the organisation has made to promoting human rights, ensuring fundamental freedoms, ending discrimination and supporting self-determination for Australia’s First Peoples.

Reconciliation Australia will be presented with the Honour at the 2019 United Nations Day Gala Dinner at NSW Parliament House on Tuesday 22 October 2019.

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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