Celebrating reconciliation excellence in education

The vital role Australian teachers and students can play in reconciliation is being celebrated, with the announcement of the finalists in the prestigious Narragunnawali Awards.

Narragunnawali is part of Reconciliation Australia and supports schools and early learning services to foster knowledge and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

The Narragunnawali Awards, sponsored by the BHP Foundation, celebrate schools and early learning services that are striving for a just, equitable and reconciled Australia.

Reconciliation Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Karen Mundine, says all the finalists have enthusiastically embraced reconciliation.

“We were so impressed by the calibre and creativity of the nominees this year, and particularly of the finalists. Teachers and students alike have been working in partnership with Elders, Traditional Owners and community members to ensure teaching and learning is relevant to their local community context.

“They have been actively engaging with the true histories of the Country on which their school respectively stands, and exploring themes of racism, holistic approaches to wellbeing, land management practices and sustainability,” Ms Mundine said.

“The important work that these children, students, teachers and broader communities are doing, is part of a broader movement of Australians learning, unlearning and relearning our shared histories in schools and early learning services around the country,” Ms Mundine concluded.

The finalists for the Narragunnawali Awards 2019 are:

Finalists – Early Learning

  • Forbes Preschool Kindergarten, Forbes, NSW
  • Barefoot Early Childhood, Dayboro, QLD

Finalists – Schools

  • Maclean High School, Maclean, NSW
  • Tamborine Mountain State School, North Tamborine, QLD
  • Moolap Primary School, Moolap, VIC


The following schools and early learning services were commended by the Judging Panel:

Commendations – Early Learning

  • The Friends Child Care Centre, East Lismore, NSW
  • Goodstart Early Learning Elizabeth Vale, Elizabeth Vale, SA
  • Evans Head-Woodburn Preschool, Evans Head, NSW

Commendations – Schools

  • Mossman State School, Mossman, QLD
  • Lloyd Street Primary School, Malvern East, VIC
  • Goondiwindi State School, Goondiwindi, QLD


The Judging Panel will be visiting each of the finalists in the coming months to determine the winners. The Judging Panel consists of Bangerang/Wiradjuri woman Geraldine Atkinson, Bardi Kija woman Sharon Davis, and Narungga man Professor Peter Buckskin.

The winners of the Narragunnawali Awards will be announced at a special Awards ceremony in Canberra which will be livestreamed on Thursday evening 14 November 2019.

About Narragunnawali

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, meaning alive, wellbeing, coming together and peace.

The Narragunnawali online platform offers a wide range of free resources that help teachers and educators bring reconciliation into the classroom. More than 35,000 individuals have signed up to the Narragunnawali platform, and more than 4,500 schools and early learning services – equivalent to 14 per cent of schools – have commenced a Reconciliation Action Plan.

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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