Reconciliation champions recognised in Queen’s Birthday honours

Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair Melinda Cilento has extended her warm and heartfelt congratulations to Dr Tom Calma AO, Ms Shelley Reys AO and Mr Ivan Copley OAM for their Order of Australia honours.

“It is with great pride that I congratulate my Co-Chair colleague Dr Tom Calma for his Officer of the Order of Australia honour,” Ms Cilento said.

“Tom is a well-respected and tireless campaigner for social justice and is unwavering in his commitment to closing the gaps that exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

“The many roles Tom plays are just a small indication of his generosity of spirit that permeates everything he does and his personal belief in the human rights of all people.”

Ms Cilento also congratulated former Reconciliation Australia Board Director Ms Shelley Reys and Reconciliation South Australia Director Mr Ivan Copley for their AO and OAM honours respectively.

“Shelley was the inaugural Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia and during her time on the Board had an enormous impact across all our work, but none more so than recognising and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ achievements—work she continues in her role as Deputy Chair of the National Australia Day Council,” Ms Cilento said.

“Ivan is doing exceptional cross cultural work in South Australia particularly with young Aboriginal people. He is an outstanding role model, a very talented artist and an asset to the reconciliation movement.”

On behalf of the Reconciliation Board Ms Cilento also congratulated other Indigenous recipients and non-Indigenous Australians working to improve the lives of first Australians.

“Recognising the work of these great reconciliation champions gives me great hope for the future of our country,” Ms Cilento said.

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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