Record support for National Reconciliation Week

I have been asked many times “what is the difference between NRW and NAIDOC week?” For me they are two sides of the same coin. Both have currency in acknowledging the past and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and success.

National Reconciliation Week is also a time for Australians to celebrate respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Recognition is central to both these events.

National Reconciliation Week, which officially started yesterday and runs through to June 3, are important dates that are a reminder of the advancements in equality and justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They are also significant demonstrations of the power of respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

On Wednesday evening I attended a welcome dinner for the National Indigenous Youth Parliament where Aunty Matilda House spoke passionately of the legacy of our elders who in the 50’s and 60’s dramatically helped progress the social landscape in Australia—and increased the momentum for change. They were joined by Faith Bandler (South Sea Islander heritage) and Jessie Street (Australian) and more than 80 000 other Australians to campaign for the “yes” vote on May 27 in the 1967 Referendum.

The 1992 Mabo decision in which the High Court of Australia recognised native title was a turning point for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rights because they acknowledged our unique connection with the land.

Both these events have shown that when trust, respect and understanding are developed with a kind heart it can bring our nation together in the hope for a fairer future.

This is worth celebrating!

With the number of events registered for National Reconciliation Week 2012 over 500, it is a strong indication of the goodwill throughout our nation to continue to build stronger relationships, national pride and opportunities for a prosperous future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Let me take this opportunity to thank each and every single Australian for helping make NRW 2012 an amazing success. Happy National Reconciliation Week!

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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