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Over two consecutive weeks in late October, the Institute of Postcolonial Studies and the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization, Deakin University, co-hosted an important and lively series of discussions via zoom on the theme ‘Decolonising truth in Australia’.

Globally, truth telling has been linked to processes of recognition and reconciliation within multicultural societies. In Australia impetus towards a truth telling process has gained new momentum in the wake of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, as well as in negotiations towards a Treaty in Victoria and the Northern Territory. The idea of ‘decolonising’ truth telling focuses attention on shifting the underlying power relationships as well as the narratives by which we understand colonial domination. 

Cherokee scholar Jeff Corntassel, from the University of Victoria, Canada gave an inspired presentation on ‘The stories that shape us: Truth-telling, Reconciliation and Indigenous Nationhood’ in which he shared numerous examples of spirited Indigenous resurgence in the regeneration of land relationships, community sustainability, and cultural practices.

Australian historian Lyndall Ryan presented the University of Newcastle’s online map of colonial frontier massacres across Australia 1788-1930. This multi-year landmark project was devised as a response to Australia’s history wars. The purpose of the map is to explore the scale and extent of frontier massacre on the Australian colonial frontier, over more than 130 years. It is a remarkable reference with great potential for use in schools and other educational settings.

The digital map of Colonial Frontier Massacres in Australia, 1788-1930 can be accessed here:

Decolonising Truth – Victoria Grieve Williams, Lorenzo Veracini & Yin Paradies

Panel discussions shared compelling ideas for the ways in which truth telling can foster new relationships of care and justice between people and the places in which we live, locally, nationally and globally. Plans are already underway for a second series in 2021.

See also

Vanessa Barolsky reflected on the topic and seminar series in her earlier article “Talking ‘Truth’ in a time of pandemic“.

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Recorded: 15 October 2020


Jeff Corntassel
Lyndall Ryan
Victoria Grieve Williams
Lorenzo Veracini
Yin Paradies


ADI recording videos


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