Recognising community truth-telling: An exploration of local truth-telling in Australia


The Recognising community truth-telling: An exploration of local truth-telling in Australia report is a unique collaborative study between Reconciliation Australia and Deakin University’s Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have long called for processes of truth-telling. Numerous community projects have emerged to reckon with our pre and post-colonisation historical truths, however few of these initiatives have been documented.

This report highlights the many different ways community truth-telling can be realised, and how these efforts contribute to reconciliation. 

The study demonstrates through case studies:

  • The immense perseverance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in undertaking truth-telling, often with limited resources and support.
  • The significant impact community truth-telling has had in shifting the national narrative about Australia’s colonial history.
  • That Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities see truth-telling and acknowledgment of the past as crucial steps towards genuine reconciliation.
  • However, there is much more work to be done to support community truth-telling in Australia.

The report’s corresponding Policy Briefing Paper, developed by Deakin University’s Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, summarises key findings from the report and suggests ways in which truth-telling could be supported.

Recognising community truth-telling report. File size: 3MB

Policy Briefing Paper. 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.

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