Alive, well-being, coming together, peace

This week we are excited to announce our partnership with BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities on our Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools program. Program manager Alex Shain shares the story so far and what the next 12 months will see for Narragunnawali.

In 2012, a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative groups and experienced education organisations met to talk about reconciliation in the Australian school setting. What is a school? Should our program focus on teachers? What does it mean for a school to engage with their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community?

Reconciliation Australia believed the great work that had been done engaging Australian workplaces to take action around respecting and understanding our Indigenous peoples’ histories and cultures could apply in schools; so we set about designing a program.

Fast forward to 2014 and the Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools team has:

  • developed a four year program plan based on a sound program logic;
  • gained the support of Indigenous Education Consultative Bodies;
  • established agreements with the Commonwealth as well as the State and Territory Government, Catholic and Independent sectors;
  • designed one of Australia’s most powerful online school planning tools;
  • produced (in collaboration with CAAMA Productions and supported by Foxtel) a series of short films specifically for Australian classrooms;
  • designed a strategy for engaging Australian teachers; held curriculum development workshops across the country;
  • developed working relationships with existing Aboriginal and Torres Islander education organisations;
  • modified our scope to clearly include the early childhood setting; and
  • exceeded targets around school and community engagement and are hiring three new staff members to grow our team to five full time staff.


This work has all been possible because we have practiced what we preach. Our team, although possessing great expertise and experience, did not assume to know how the Australian school and early childhood setting works. We have spent the time to learn from, build relationships with and gain the respect of those that do know the school setting. If organisations and representative groups weren’t ready to engage or develop partnerships, we waited.

The program we are rolling out over the next 12 months is a source of great pride for our team. Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools will provide tools, including a RAP builder, curriculum resources and teacher professional network, for every Australian early childhood, primary and secondary school to develop strong relationships, respect and provide opportunities in classrooms, around schools and with communities.

Alive, well-being, coming together, peace… as the many definitions of the word Narragunnawali suggest we are working with the Australian school system to provide the next generation of Australians an environment that encourages a strong sense of understanding and shared pride in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

Narragunnawali (pronounced narra-gunna-wally) is a word from the language of the Ngunnawal people, traditional owners of the land on which Reconciliation Australia’s Canberra office is located. We pay our respects and thank the United Ngunnawal Elders Council for giving us permission to use the word Narragunnawali. It is an important symbol for us, being a national program, to acknowledge and recognise the Traditional Custodians of the land and waterways on which we live, learn and teach.

To learn more about Narragunnawali, please visit our website at

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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