Students engage residents with local language
By JUSTIN JENVEY
YEAR nine Indigenous Studies students from Bright P12 College have recently finished a semester of visits to Hawthorn Village.
Since 2014, school nurse Rosemary Bunge has regularly coordinated fortnightly trips with students, to the aged care facility.
This year she invited Indigenous Studies teacher Rebecca Crawley and her year nine class to join in the program and give Hawthorn Village residents an insight into Aboriginal culture.
“At the start of semester, I didn’t tell the students what they had to do other then what they were going to be assessed on,” Ms Crawley said.
“It’s been a really great experience for the students to teach the residents the local Dhudhuroa language because when you teach something, you have to know it really well.”
Ms Crawley said Dhudhuroa is known as a sleeping language because at present no one speaks it.
It is one of thousands of in- digenous languages across the country and varies from Murrinh Patha which is spoken by young indigenous people from Wadeye, who come to Bright.
Over 10 weeks, students taught residents greetings and numerous words and sayings in Dhudhuroa as well as explaining stories displayed on objects such as possum skin blankets.
They engaged in other activities too, as well as performing indigenous songs.
Last Thursday, during their final visit to Hawthorn Village, the students presented a video of their time spent with the residents.
Hawthorn Village manager Vicki Southgate said it had been an insightful experience for the elderly and one they had thoroughly enjoyed.
“I think it’s been great, over the past few months I’ve heard a lot of laughter coming from down the hall and have seen residents that normally sit and don’t do much, become engaged,” she said.
“This program between Bright P12 College and Hawthorn Village is about putting a bit of spark back into the life of our residents and that’s exactly what it’s doing.
“I want to thank Bright P12 College, Rosemary, Bec and (language assistant) Dallas (Mugarra) for coming down and continuing this program with us.”
On the weeks in which the Indigenous Studies class hasn’t visited Hawthorn Village, other year nine students have, and Ms Bunge said the program continued to deliver positive outcomes.
“Students get to choose to come down and every year we’ve got some really committed kids that love being a part of the program,” she said.
“We even have some students that aren’t in year nine, with different needs that still come down.
“There’s an autistic boy who has grown so much to the point that he is going to do his year 11 work experience at Hawthorn Village.
“Just watching the students notice when some of residents are feeling down and their ability to empathise with them amazes me, that’s one of the main reasons why I started the whole thing.”