The importance of community language is being emphasized by the NSW Department of Education (DOE) and the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc. (AECG) who will be supporting different communities to develop Indigenous language action plans across each Language and Culture Nests of NSW.
Each Language group will receive $100,000 to develop a course, program, or other means to assist knowledge holders to pass knowledge on within community.
NSW Department of Education, Aboriginal Language and Culture Officer, Brenda Mitchell will be meeting with the Broken Hill community today to help support the community develop an action plan that can be rolled out later this year.
NSW DOE have initiated the program with the aim to increase the number of people learning these critically endangered language and strengthen Aboriginal identity, pride, and resilience in communities.
“The aim of the action plan is to get the community involved, to support the kids in the schools, and to get the parents and the community speaking the language too,” said Ms Mitchell
“It’s important to get the community aware that we do have this opportunity to teach language.”
Each community of the Paakantji language footprint which covers, Bourke, Wilcannia, Broken Hill, Dareton and the Coomealla area, will have the opportunity to develop their own strategy and approach to deliver and coordinate lessons.
“It’s their action plan, I am only there to support, encourage and update”, said Ms Mitchell.
“Menindee will be doing it fortnightly, they have knowledge holders who we will assist, I am not going to be telling them what to do, they will be telling me to make it feasible for them.”
“The first session will be a history of Paakantji, breaking down the dictionary to have a look at how words are spoken and how it relates to them.”
Ms Mitchell said that in Broken Hill, there are now 6 schools that teach Paakantji language but that it is important to involve parents and other community members who may not know the words their children are saying.
“We need to get the parents and the community speaking the language too.”
“It’s no good the kids going home and calling them Ngamaka, which is mother and them not knowing what they are talking about.”
“The community program goes over 10 weeks, on Saturday they will be discussing where they are going to hold it, when they are going to hold it and how frequent they are going to hold it.”
The Money which will be divided across the 5 communities of the language Nest will mostly pay for the knowledge holders and support person’s time.
You can help develop the community Language Action Plan today at the Broken Hill Community Centre from 10:30am-12:30pm.