Woor­agee stu­dents bring back ‘sleep­ing lan­guage’

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

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.


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.

PHOTO: Coral Cook­sley

PHOTO: Coral Cook­sley

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.

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