What is means to be Australian

Being Australian is all about being inclusive, accepting and celebrating our diversity. That diversity of beliefs and culture forms the foundation of who we are as a nation. At the very heart of that foundation are our First Australians.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are our original pioneers and custodians. Their history, their culture and their beliefs have a sacred place in the DNA of our nation. That’s why I am supporting this year’s National Reconciliation Week. Events like Reconciliation Week provide a great way for all Australians to learn more about our First Australians, from Western Australia to the Torres Strait Islands, our country has a rich and vibrant Indigenous history which we should celebrate together.

Reconciliation is all about sharing cultures and understanding each other better. This year’s theme Let’s talk Recognition is also our chance to recognise the contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made to the nation. Who could forget Cathy Freeman taking home an Olympic gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000? Or the amazing success of tennis great, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley? These Indigenous leaders have inspired and shaped our nation.

So this National Reconciliation Week, get together with your workmates, family and friends, and let’s talk more about how we can all support reconciliation.

By Sunrise Co-host David Koch

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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