Reconciliation on-show at Federation Square

Melbourne’s Federation Square will warm to the sights and sounds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music, dance and comedy when National Reconciliation Week is launched there on Monday 27 May at 12.30pm. Melbourne will be linked with a simultaneous launch in Cairns via a live stream on the huge Federation Square screen.

Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair, Dr Tom Calma AO, said the launch will be an opportunity for Melbournians to recognise the contributions, cultures and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and have fun while doing it.

“Reconciliation is serious business but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun because fundamentally it’s about building relationships and friendships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians,” he said. “The Federation Square launch of National Reconciliation Week will reflect this as the Lord Mayor of Melbourne joins comedians, movie stars as well as the Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and leaders of the national movement for reconciliation.”

“Let’s talk recognition is the theme for this year’s week and constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Peoples is a priority. Formal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our constitution and the removal of sections which allow for racial discrimination is serious business.”

“Australia prides itself on being a place of fairness, but under the Australian Constitution; while racial discrimination is no longer accepted in our community, in our workplaces and in our daily lives, the Constitution permits laws that discriminate on the basis of race.

“Australia’s founding document does not recognise the first chapter of our national identity and it’s about time that was changed,” said Dr Calma.

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is celebrated across Australia each year between 27 May and 3 June. The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey:

  • May 27 marks the anniversary of the 1967 referendum in which over 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.
  • On 3 June, 1992, the High Court of Australia delivered its landmark Mabo decision which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land—that existed prior to colonisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights called Native Title.
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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