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16 Nov 2016

Reconciliation in the Media – Languages Focus

In consultation with your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, teachers and educators can build awareness of the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and the stories around their history and modern usage. The below articles and resources are useful conversation starters for students, parents and colleagues.

If language tells us who we are, then who am I?

In this opinion piece written in August, Stan Grant reflects on the power of language and its place in his own life as a journalist, traveller, and Wiradjuri man. Living in the “worlds in between”, Stan’s first language is English, but his father’s is Wiradjuri.

Conversation starter: How does language shape a person’s identity? What language(s) do you speak and how do they connect to your sense of self?

First Languages in maiden speeches

In September, the maiden speeches of newly elected Aboriginal parliamentarians Patrick Dodson, Linda Burney and Malarndirri McCarthy were moving in many ways, and the strong presence of Aboriginal languages was particularly significant. Senator Patrick Dodson and the Speaker addressed each other in Yawuru language, the Hon Linda Burney MP was sung into parliament in Wiradjuri language by family members and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy addressed the chamber in Yanyuwa language.

Conversation starter: What is the symbolic and practical significance of Australia’s First Languages being spoken in the Senate and House of Representatives?

Shakespeare translated into Noongar language

As part of a discussion on ABC’s Q&A program focused on Shakespeare, Kylie Farmer translated sonnet 127 into Noongar language from South-West WA. Kylie is a part of the Yirra Yaakin Shakespeare project, which focuses on using sonnets such as 127, which she believes is a sonnet “lobbying for the beauty in Blackness”, to teach students language.

Conversation starter: What is the value of performing or learning about a Shakespearean English play in Noongar - one of Australia’s First Languages?

First Aboriginal language Wikipedia site

For the first time, an Australian Aboriginal language Wikipedia page is being developed. The language is Noongar, and it is hoped the NoongarPedia Project will help revitalise this and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

Conversation starter: Why is it valuable to create online resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages?