Support for constitutional change

The reference group established to help generate community awareness of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians could be recognised in the Constitution met for the first time in Sydney today.

Membership of the reference group includes representatives from the Australian Business Council, the Australian Law Council, the Minerals Council of Australia, ANTAR, Oxfam, the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples as well as four members of the Government appointed advisory panel on constitutional recognition.

Reconciliation Australia has been appointed to raise community awareness building on momentum generated through the You Me Unity campaign.

Reconciliation Australia CEO, Leah Armstrong, who co-chaired today’s meeting said the wide cross-section of organisations represented on the reference group was important to reach out to the Australian people.

“As we take these important next steps towards constitutional recognition we welcome the great support we are receiving from groups as diverse as the Business Council, the Minerals Council, Congress, ANTAR and Oxfam.

“We know we have a big challenge ahead of us but we are encouraged by the growing mood for change.

“For example, in Sydney this week the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders are meeting to talk about how they can mobilise young Australians to join the campaign for change.

“These 96 young people, representing all states and territories, have a great contribution to make to the ongoing education and community awareness campaign.”

Ms Armstrong said events throughout the year, including National Reconciliation Week with the theme “let’s talk recognition” would also help increase awareness.

“Central to this will be the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum. “On 27 May 1967 more than 90 per cent of Australians voted to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the national census.

“It is an important reminder of the inherent sense of fairness of the Australian people,” Ms Armstrong 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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