National Reconciliation Week 2019 theme announced

Reconciliation Australia has announced that the theme of the 2019 National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage.

Announcing the theme today Reconciliation Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Karen Mundine, said that trust and truth is the basis for all strong, equitable relationships.

“Reconciliation is ultimately about relationships and like all effective relationships the one between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians must be grounded in truth,” she said. “There can be no trust without an honest, open conversation about our history.”

Ms Mundine said that the results of the 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer, Reconciliation Australia’s biennial community attitudes survey, showed that Australians were firmly onside with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s calls for a comprehensive process of truth-telling about Australia’s colonial history.

“Our nation’s past is reflected in the present, and the legacy of past traumas will continue to play out in our future unless we heal historical wounds,” said Ms Mundine.

“According to the 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer, 80 per cent of Australians believe it is important to undertake formal truth-telling processes.”

“It encourages me that Australians are ready to come to terms with our past as a crucial step towards a unified future, in which we understand, value and respect each other.”

During NRW, Australians from all backgrounds will also be inspired to ‘walk together with courage’ as they contribute to building stronger relationships based on historical acceptance.

“Whether you’re engaging in challenging conversations or unlearning and relearning what you know, this journey does require all of us to walk together with courage towards a unified future,” Ms Mundine said.

“Truth-telling is not about engendering guilt or shame in non-Indigenous Australians but about addressing past injustices and serving as an ‘end-point to a history of wrongdoing’, allowing healing and for relationships to start anew.”

Ms Mundine said such national dialogues help progress acceptance of the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s calls for a First Nations constitutional voice in parliament and a formal process of truth-telling.

“These processes are not a symbolic act, but a practical process of healing that is important to all Australians.”

NRW is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The week is held annually from 27 May to 3 June and is preceded by National Sorry Day on 26 May. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.

Learn more about the National Reconciliation Week campaign.

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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