Wooragee students bring back ‘sleeping language’
WOORAGEE Primary School earlier this year set a first for an Indigo Shire school by introducing an indigenous language to its curriculum. Students (from left) Aston Porteous, Matilda Marshall, Taylor Wuksta and Anton Davey have been learning Dhudhuroa since January – the language native to the aboriginal people of the area – with (pictured) Rebecca Crawley and language assistant Dallas Mugarra.
By CORAL COOKSLEY
WOORAGEE Primary School has taken the opportunity for its young students to learn an indigenous language making it the first school in the Indigo Shire to undertake such a program.
Principal Alicia Odewahn said another language other than English had to be selected from the Victorian school curriculum and as such indigenous was chosen.
“It connected to the school’s sustainability and environmental programs that we offer too, and a fifth of the school’s students have identified as indigenous,” Ms Odewahn said.
The fortnightly one-day program started this January and was accessed through Bright P12 College.
Taking the class are Rebecca Crawley, the indigenous language teacher at Bright, and language assistant Dallas Mugarra who hails from the Wadeye community in the Northern Territory.
Both are connected with the Thamarrurr Youth Indigenous Corporation and work with the Dhudhuroa Waywurru Nations Aboriginal Corporation to deliver the program.
A language reclamation program started 20 years ago through the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages with research for a draft dictionary was completed in 2008 and has seen the revival of Indigenous languages in Bright and Beechworth areas commence.
Ms Crawley said the language program being offered grew from an educational one set up for school-age students from Wadeye who have attended Bright P12 College since 2009.
Attendance at the college followed an association that both Ms Crawley and her husband Justin had with the community.
Commencing at Bright P12 College six years ago, the language program there is now offered to students from Years 8 to 12.
“Here at Worragee we’re teaching Dhudhuroa which is a sleeping language that is from the area,” Ms Crawley said.
“This is the first school we’ve taught it outside of Bright.”
She said there were more than 250 indig- enous languages throughout Australia with at least 38 of those in Victoria.
Mr Mugarra said there had been a big change in the lives of Wooragee primary students where they now learned indigenous language and culture helped through dancing, singing, painting and drawing.
Ms Odehwan said Ms Crawley and Mr Mugarra were helping to identify flora and fauna with indigenous names in the Bush Area Project at the school funded by Landcare as well. “We’re learning these names too,” she said. Among four indigenous languages spoken by Mr Mugarra is the local language Dhudhuroa, and Murrinhpatha from Wadeye – a language that remained strong.
Mr Mugarra said more than 100 secondary students from Bright P12 had studied indigenous language as well as visiting Wadeye.
Ms Crawley is also the employment and training manager at Thamarrurr Youth Indigenous Corporation – an organisation that helps improve the lives of indigenous people and develop future leaders in the Northern Territory’s Thamarrurr region.
NEW LEARNING FOR YOUNGSTERS: (from left) Aston Porteous, language assistant Dallas Mugarra and teacher Rebecca Crawley with Taylor Wuksta and Anton Davey during Wooragee Primary School’s indigenous language class.