Response to media comments over Constitutional reform

Reconciliation Australia has urged all Australians to wait until the Expert Panel releases its final report on Constitutional recognition before ruling out any reform options.

Following recent media speculation over proposed changes to the races power, Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair Tom Calma has called for all parties to await the Panel’s final report in January before reaching any conclusions.

“The Expert Panel, which has representation from all major political parties, including the Independents, has spent the past 12 months consulting extensively with the community to canvass a broad range of opinions and ideas,” Dr Calma said.

“Reconciliation Australia has supported these consultations though various community meetings and forums so it’s only fair that judgment of the results is reserved until the final report is released next month.”

Dr Calma said the panel received over 3,000 submissions which show there is a high level of support not only for recognising the first Australians—but for creating a more modern Constitution that moves us forward as a fairer society.

“There have been many deliberations on this matter, and acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution is another step in our reconciliation journey, so it’s important that all parties wait until the final report is released before ruling anything in—or out.”

As 2011 draws to a close, Dr Calma also said there had been many significant achievements in the reconciliation space this year.

“We had a great response to our National Reconciliation Week theme “Let’s Talk Recognition” which will remain the same for 2012,” Dr Calma said.

“Our ever expanding Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program, which now has over 280 organisations with a RAP, and 200 in development, demonstrates a wide reaching commitment to reconciliation across Australian workplaces.

“And we have a strong year of activities planned for 2012, including the Indigenous Governance Awards which focus on recognising and showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander success to the broader community.”

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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