Young leaders unite for Constitutional change

The next generation of Indigenous leaders will gather in Sydney today for a four day youth forum on the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Hosted by the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) in Redfern, and supported by Reconciliation Australia, the forum will bring together 12 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians from each state and territory.

The young leaders will discuss what recognition means for all Australians and develop a framework for engaging with a youth audience to grow support for constitutional change. Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair Dr Tom Calma commended the work of the NCIE in engaging and educating young people on the importance of formally recognising the unique cultures and contributions of Australia’s First Peoples.

“This year we have been out in the community talking about the importance of recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our nation’s founding document,” Dr Calma said.

“What we’ve heard is there’s an appetite for change but we’ve also discovered that most people are unaware of what the current situation is.”

Dr Calma said the NCIE event was a fantastic initiative and he is encouraging all organisations, businesses and communities to help spread the word on constitutional reform. “Building public awareness is the next step towards constitutional change and we want to hear your thoughts and opinions. We want to keep the conversation going, to spread the word, to be part of the changes that make us a better nation.”

Earlier this year, Reconciliation Australia was appointed by the Prime Minister to lead a national education campaign on in the lead-up to a referendum on recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the Constitution.

The NCIE youth forum runs from 14-17 March 2012.

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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