Coming to terms with the past? Identifying barriers and enablers to truth-telling


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have tirelessly advocated for truth-telling as a crucial step on Australia’s path to recognition and reconciliation.

Despite this, there is a gap in existing research about what encourages Australians to engage with truth-telling and and our shared history.

The Coming to terms with the past? Identifying barriers and enablers to truth-telling and strategies to promote historical acceptance report steps into this space, aiming to advance our understanding of: 

  • what is truth-telling to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians
  • the key barriers to and enablers of engagement with truth-telling and First Nations histories
  • the implications of these findings for progressing truth-telling in community settings.


A collaborative study between Reconciliation Australia and UNSW’s Indigenous Land and Justice Research Group School of Humanities & Languages, the research sought answers through a literature review, media survey, online surveys and in-depth interviews. 

Findings include important considerations for the planning and delivery of effective truth-telling initiaitives; as well as uncovering what motivates First Nations and non-Indigenous people to get involved.

The full report provides an overview of all of the research’s findings. Read the full report.

The summary of the key findings compiles top-line implications from the research into a 6-page resource. Read the summary of key findings. 

For further reading, please see in-depth reports on the sources that contributed to the research’s findings: 

Full report

File size: 3MB

Summary of key findings

 File size: 3 MB

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.

Skip to content
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap