Reconciliation awards for local governnment

Reconciliation Australia has congratulated the Wellington and East Arnhem Shire Councils for winning the ‘promoting reconciliation category’ in the 2012 National Awards for Local Government.

Wellington Shire Council in the Gippsland region of Victoria has won the reconciliation award for their Deadly in Gippsland conference 2011; while East Arnhem Shire Council (EASC) took home the small council award for their Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Reconciliation Australia CEO Leah Armstrong said the awards are a great way of recognising the important work that happens in regional areas.

“The advancement of reconciliation in this country relies on the work done by local organisations and councils,” she said.

“We know there are a lot of small grassroots and community based organisations doing some fantastic work to create better relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians—so it’s great to see them being recognised.”

The promoting reconciliation category in the National Awards for Local Government acknowledges initiatives that strengthen reconciliation through mutual recognition, respect and participation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. The EASC was the first of the new local government shires in the Northern Territory to develop a RAP which Reconciliation Australia was proud to endorse in October, 2011.

“The East Arnhem Shire Council is leading the way in local government leadership by implanting reforms and improving accountability to its communities,” Ms Armstrong said.

“We know the council is passionate about reconciliation because it has built reconciliation into its core foundation and future business practices.

“By focusing on respect and relationships based on mutual understanding the council will be able to create more sustainable opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in the Northern Territory.”

In Wellington Shire, their Deadly in Gippsland conference 2011 enabled Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to better learn from each other. Thepositive atmosphere at the conference encouraged respectful listening in a way that strengthened community needs and forged deeper links to country.

“Victoria has always been incredibly active in building positive relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people from the region,” Ms Armstrong said.

“We’re really excited to see Wellington Shire being recognised for its contribution to reconciliation.”

Also commended in the National Awards for Local Government was fellow Victorian council, the City of Yarra, for its Stories around the Fire project, an initiative that saw more than 200 Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians gather around the fire to hear the stories of local Aboriginal elders and community members.

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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