Organising An Event For National Reconciliation Week

Whether it’s your first time hosting a National Reconciliation Week event, or your fifth, get some pointers about what makes a good one.

Reconciliation is everyone’s business and National Reconciliation Week (NRW) – 27 May to 3 June – is celebrated in all walks of Australian life.

Schools and universities, workplaces and community groups, sports codes and religious institutions, mums and dads and Aunties and Uncles, and so many others take part in NRW – and hopefully you do too!

Read on for tips on how to make sure your NRW event, big or small, is contributing to a just, equitable, and reconciled Australia.


Aim for meaningful

There is no one way to participate in NRW, but it is important to take time to think sincerely about the context of your event.

The most meaningful NRW events are ones that:

  • grow your knowledge and understanding
  • centre Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices
  • are tailored to your situation.

For example: a bookshop might organise a talk with a First Nations author; a local sports team or league could hold an Indigenous Round; a law firm might screen a movie on racism is the criminal justice system; and a friendship group of musos might attend the gig of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artist.

Whatever starts a conversation is the way to go!


Share the load

NRW is powered by the enthusiasm of participants, but it’s important to be aware of the many responsibilities that fall on First Nations people over the week.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are often asked to organise, attend and speak at NRW events and share their personal experiences with non-Indigenous audiences.

Constantly educating and being the only First Nations person in the room can be incredibly draining.

While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives are crucial for NRW events, there are ways to make sure your event is helping not hindering:

  • don’t assume that an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person wants to be involved in NRW – ask respectfully first
  • make sure the organising is not falling on First Nations friends, collaborators, or colleagues
  • find out what responsibilities Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to their communities over the week, and make sure they are supported to carry them out
  • discuss the availability of remuneration for First Nations speakers and experts upfront.


Together we can make sure NRW is an energising and inclusive time for everyone.


Ideas to get you started

Still unsure? Here’s some ideas to get you started:

Check out the NRW events portal. Hundreds of public events are held for NRW every year. You can also use the NRW calendar to find in-person events near you, and online events that you can attend from anywhere:

Host a Reconciliation Film Club screening. Compelling documentary films and series by First Nations creatives. Screen one at work to encourage conversation on a range of issues, including history, justice and equality. The Film Club is a unique and thought-provoking way to bring people together for NRW. The website hosts downloadable screening kits and discussion guides, and features articles and ideas to support a successful event:

Go local. Does your area’s local Aboriginal Land Council or Community Controlled Organisation host events or welcome the public to attend initatives? Find out and connect with local Traditional Owners. Cultural tours of your town or city are also a great way to learn more about the Country you’re on and its rich history.

Get cultural. Across Australia, exhibitions and shows that feature or are by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, musicians and creatives. Organise a daytrip for your office or a night out with your friends to support Australia’s vibrant community of First Nation’s artists.

Start reading. It’s not stranger than fiction – hosting a reconciliation book club makes a for a great NRW event! Engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors telling their stories their way helps broaden perspectives and understanding. Search ‘look for a book’ on our website for recommendations.


Still unsure?

If you are still stuck, ask yourself these questions: Whose Country am I on? What is the shared history of this place, before and since colonisation? What is my industry or community’s relationship to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples? How does this year’s NRW theme relate to me and the event I am trying to run? 

The answers to any of these questions would make a strong basis for a meaningful NRW event.

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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