Statement on the passing of Dr Bush-Blanasi

Reconciliation Australia mourns the passing of Chairman of the Northern Land Council, Dr Bush-Blanasi.

His skills and strengths as a passionate advocate for his people have left a legacy for Top End Northern Territory communities to build on. He was uncompromising in his advocacy for Aboriginal rights in the Northern Territory and across Australia.

He will be remembered as someone who did not flinch from telling the truth to power and was never afraid to speak up to politicians and bureaucrats.

A family man, he recognised the critical importance of women’s voices being heard and always supported policies which would benefit women and families. 

He was an uncompromising supporter of the rights of remote Aboriginal children to be schooled in their own homelands to strengthen culture and connection to Country.

Dr Bush-Blanasi was a man with an enormous range of expertise and interests whose contribution spanned many areas of critical importance to his people.

He served on many boards including the North Australian Indigenous Land & Sea Management Alliance, Imparja, and Northern Building Consultants and was a founding member of the Association of Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists, Aboriginal Sea Company, Aboriginal Housing Northern Territory, Top End Aboriginal Bush Broadcasting Association, and the Northern Territory Aboriginal Investment Corporation.

He played a key role in the fight for Sea Rights.

Last year Dr Bush-Blanasi was named Northern Territory Australian of the Year. It was in that capacity that he attended Reconciliation Australia’s annual breakfast for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander state and territory award recipients, where he was remembered by staff and directors as a man of warmth and good humour.

A proud father and grandfather with connections to Yolngu and Mayili Nations he will be remembered as a fearless warrior for his people.

Reconciliation Australia sends our condolences to his family and his colleagues.

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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