Commitment to reconciliation in education

Reconciliation Australia is today proud to launch the Narragunnawali Awards 2019 for exceptional commitment to reconciliation in education.

The Narragunnawali Awards were established in 2017 to recognise and celebrate schools and early learning services that demonstrate dedication and commitment to implementing reconciliation initiatives in the classroom, around the school or service and with the community. They are the first and only national awards program for reconciliation in the early, primary and secondary education sectors.

Schools and early learning services that display exceptional commitment to reconciliation are encouraged to nominate, with prizes including $10,000 to support the winners’ reconciliation initiatives and a short film vignette showcasing the reconciliation initiatives in their school or early learning service.

The inaugural Narragunnawali Awards, in 2017, were won by Queanbeyan Public School and Explore and Develop Penrith South, which both involved their broader communities in reconciliation, and highlighted local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and languages in day-to-day school activities.

Chief Executive Officer of Reconciliation Australia, Karen Mundine, said that historically educational institutions had perpetuated myths and misinformation about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for this reason, the Narragunnawali Awards take on a particularly important place in Australia’s reconciliation process.

“Education is critical to how we understand and think about reconciliation; the earlier we have these conversations the better,” said Ms Mundine.

“Reconciliation Australia advances reconciliation through five key dimensions: historical acceptance; race relations; equality and equity; institutional integrity and unity.”

“It is clear that education plays a powerful role in progressing reconciliation in Australia. Education is the key to broadening perspectives and cultivating understanding of reconciliation – each of these five dimensions can be progressed on a daily basis in classrooms around Australia.”

“The Narragunnawali program has seen over 3,400 schools and early learning services across the nation commit to developing a Reconciliation Action Plan to drive positive, whole-scale change in their local educational communities.”

Ms Mundine encouraged those schools and early learning centres that strengthen community relationships and build respect, and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories to nominate.

“Celebrate your successes, challenges and share your reconciliation stories; this is what these awards aim to do,” she said.

The two award categories are:

  • Schools: including primary, secondary, senior secondary and combined schools within the Government, Independent or Catholic sectors.
  • Early Learning: including early childhood education and care, preschool, family day care and out of school hours care services.


Nominations for the Narragunnawali Awards 2019 can be made online here. Nominations open Friday 1 February and close Friday 10 May 2019.

Reconciliation Australia

Reconciliation Australia is an independent, national, not-for-profit organisation promoting reconciliation by building stronger relationships, respect and trust between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Education

Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Education is a program of Reconciliation Australia, dedicated to supporting all Australian schools and early learning services to develop environments that foster a higher level of knowledge and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions.

Narragunnawali (pronounced narra-gunna-wally) is a word from the language of the Ngunnawal people, Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and waterways of the area on which Reconciliation Australia’s Canberra office is located.

The Narragunnawali Awards

Reconciliation Australia, in partnership with the BHP Foundation, holds the Narragunnawali Awards biennially to identify, celebrate and promote outstanding reconciliation in the education environment and to share the success across the country.

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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