Narragunnawali Awards 2023 finalists

Australian schools and early learning services with a passion for reconciliation in education have been selected as finalists for the Narragunnawali Awards 2023.

Held every two years since 2017, the Narragunnawali Awards celebrate outstanding commitments to reconciliation in education.

A part of Reconciliation Australia, the Narragunnawali program supports all schools and early learning services in Australia to champion reconciliation and foster a high level of knowledge and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, and contributions.

Finalists were selected by a judging panel of eminent First Nations educationalists: Sharon Davis, Geraldine Atkinson, and Joe Sambono.

The panel recently met last week to assess the shortlisted applications and applauded the level of commitment to reconciliation in education from schools and services across the country.

The judges were impressed by the finalists’ use of local Aboriginal languages, their embedding of reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures into the curriculum and their strong relationships with local Elders and communities.

Chair of the panel Sharon Davis said they appreciated the finalists’ efforts to address anti-racism in their settings and to build strong and respectful relationships with their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“Schools and early learning servicesare increasingly becoming places that are welcoming for First Nations students and families as education gets serious about reconciliation.

“The impact of the initiatives demonstrated by these finalists cannot be overestimated on the broader Australian society. These schools and services present a brighter future for our students and the country,” Davis said.

“The Narragunnawali program is a catalyst for change; for a better and fairer Australia.”

Finalists in the Schools category: 

  • Winterfold Primary School – Noongar Country, BEACONSFIELD, WA
  • Kwoorabup Nature School – Noongar Country, DENMARK, WA
  • Kellyville Public School – Darug Country, KELLYVILLE, NSW

Finalists in the Early Learning category: 

  • Stirling District Kindergarten – Kaurna Country,STIRLING, SA
  • Wyong Preschool Kindergarten – Darkinjung Country,WYONG, NSW  
  • Little Beacons Learning Centre – Wurundjeri and Bunurong/Boon Wurrung Country, PAKENHAM, VIC

The judges also commended the following schools: 

  • Lismore High School, Wijabal Wyabal Country,NSW
  • Melbourne Indigenous Transition School, Wurundjeri Country,VIC
  • Hawthorndene Primary School, Kaurna Country,SA
  • Goodstart Shailer Park, Jagera and Yugambeh Country,QLD
  • Kinda-Mindi Early Learning Centre Claymore, Dharawal Country – NSW
  • MacGregor Outside School Hours Care, Turrbal and Jagera Country, QLD

The judging panel will now visit each finalist to determine the winners in each category.

The Awards ceremony and a reconciliation in education forum will take place on Ngunnawal Country in Canberra at the National Museum of Australia on Friday 24 November.

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.

 Narragunnawali means alive, wellbeing, coming together and peace, and is used with permission of the United Ngunnawal Elders Council.  

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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