Staff and volunteers at VACL have been quietly working hard in the library over recent months, updating records and documenting resources in preparation for the library's launch into the virtual world.
The VACL Library is a unique and highly significant resource, featuring the most complete holdings of materials on Victorian Aboriginal languages in existence, and is the only place prioritising Community as well as historical and linguistic materials.
The VACL Library collection is now being shared online via Victorian Collections, making these important resources available to a wider audience and improving accessibility to our collection.
This project was lead and conceived by Jenny Gibson, who worked in partnership with Belinda Ensor and Cameron Auty, Co-Managers of Victorian Collections and volunteers Lea Bröenner, Eartha Collins and Amelia Marra, a Cultural Heritage student on placement from Deakin University. The collection will now go on to be linked with Trove.
VACL would like to thank and congratulate everyone who worked on this project which will further assist communities, groups, organisations and individuals to connect with Victorian Aboriginal language resources.
"Every item on Victoria Collections has a story to tell. Until now these objects have been hidden away in collections stores, libraries and exhibition spaces. This is an incredibly comprehensive and useful resource from a remarkable organisation, so it's very exciting for the collection to be shared online" said Belinda Ensor, Victorian Collections Co-Manager.
VACL's online collection can be found here
To learn more about VACL's library click here
Last week VACL hosted a language networking event Dhumba-djerring (talk together, from the Boonwurrung language) in Fitzroy. Language workers from across Victoria gathered over two days to participate in workshops and discussions and to share their experiences of awakening language in their communities and schools. It was positive to see young people and some new faces at this event as more and more people gain confidence and interest in our languages. Among the presentations were Brendan Kennedy's lesson on morphology, Aunty Doris Paton speaking about policies and strategies which have shaped the teaching of language in schools, Harley-Dunolly-Lee sharing his experiences of working with the Dja Dja Wurrung on sounds and spellings, Kris Eira on the issues and considerations when creating community dictionaries and Jenny Gibson who introduced the group to VACL's presence on Victorian Collections online. On the Thursday evening Paul Paton, Mandy Nicholson and Joel Wright took part in a panel discussion with Gregory Phillips to a packed audience at the Wheeler Centre.
Scroll down to see a video and images from Dhumba-djerring
For information on upcoming VACL presentations Reawakenings: the revival of Victorian Aboriginal languages click here
Launched on Monday 15th February 2016, Swan Hill Primary School students have created a Wemba Wemba Language resource in the form of an interactive digital app, which contains word list categories accompanied by images and audio, in Wemba Wemba. The student’s creative use of language, art and technology has resulted in an interactive app with 13 word categories, including animals, body parts, counting, placenames, phrases, objects and songs.
This digital project is a partnership between Swan Hill Primary School, Traditional Owners, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL), Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI) & Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre. The development of these digital resources will support language reclamation and revitalisation activities in Victorian schools and communities.
Click the icon above to download the app.
The App is available now for download at the App Store, for use on iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch.
This document contains an alphabetical listing of all words and phrases from the app in an interactive pdf which can be opened on any computer. Scroll your mouse over each image to hear the audio in Wemba Wemba.
Click on the icon above to download the interactive pdf. Please note this is a large file so may take some time to download.
This case study of the planning and production of the Wemba Wemba Miromaa Language App can be used as a guide to assist your school or community to undertake a similar project. The App was produced for and by students at Swan Hill Primary School as a digital tool to assist them and the community in learning Wemba Wemba language.
Click on the image above to download the document.
The Fourth Dungala Kaiela Writers Awards took place on Friday 30th October at Rumbalara Football and Netball Club in Shepparton to a packed house.
With the Language section is in its third year, the number of entrants has increased from 4 to 11 and then this year 32 entries, with large numbers in the Junior section. Subjects ranged from family, growing up, Dreaming stories and new stories in similar style, identity, history and even some puzzles. Aunty Sharon Atkinson and VACL's Dr Kris Eira were the judges of this year's Language section with VACL's Paul Paton presenting the awards on the night.
Aunty Kella Robinson was joined by two young writers to conduct a Welcome, with highlights including primary school student Lillie Walker who sang two songs in Yorta Yorta Language including the well known 'Bura Fera' and a short talk by Jackie Yowell, editor of the recently published Not just Black and White.
Language award winners and titles:
Joint Winners - Sonny Croes Yakapna (Family) and Nerissa Gratton The Lost Girl
Commended - Gavin Handy Hunting for Bigarrumdja Eggs
Winner - Alkira Power Yorta Yorta Writing
Commended - Kian Wise Biame And The Creation of Murray River and Alli Morgan How I Feel To Be Aboriginal
Winner - Merle Miller Proud To Be Me
Commended - Bruno Starrs Weelow and Belinda Briggs Nyin Yorta Yorta Burrai
To see a video of judge Aunty Sharon Atkinson sharing Yorta Yorta language click here
Scroll down too see more images from the awards night
Last week on Wednesday September 2nd, Indigenous Literacy Day, Fitzroy Library visitors were treated to an Aboriginal Language Awareness Workshop presented by Wurundjeri woman and VACL Project Officer Mandy Nicholson. On a wet cold evening, more than 40 attendees enjoyed over an hour of learning more about Aboriginal Language in Victoria.
Mandy spoke about her own language journey, about links to culture and language, current language renewal projects and the state of language revival in Victoria, activities relevant to language training, the success of the Woi wurrung Language Program at Thornbury Primary School and the importance of multi-lingual education. The audience was then treated to a Woi wurrung language activity called 'aliens', followed by an extensive Q & A.
"Language was forcibly stopped and lucky we've got enough records that we can bring back our languages". - Mandy Nicholson
To read more about the Language Awareness Workshops offered by VACL click here
You can hear the full audio of the workshop here
VACL is proud to announce that the Shearwater Festival has been awarded the Community HART Award for 2015 in the Community Organisation category! The Awards celebrate projects in which local governments and community organisations are Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together.
The projects featured in the 2015 Community HART Awards bring people together through the Arts, through raising awareness and through deep listening. All of the projects contribute to creating new stories of cultural regeneration and healing.
Deep and respectful listening is central to the Shearwater Festival and the Education Program. The Festival, in its fourth year, is a creative, cultural and environmental event which brings communities together to celebrate the return of the shearwaters from their 15,000 kilometre migration. The Shearwater Festival includes a Street Parade, workshops, performances, guided walks and talks to the shearwater rookeries. It involves environmental educators, creative artists, musicians, Indigenous Elders, community members and school children.
The Festival is preceded by a Shearwater Education Program in local schools which includes excursions and visits from artists, musicians, environmentalists and Aboriginal Elders. During the Education Program, students, teachers and community members are supported to create puppets, songs and dances with environmental themes which are featured in the Street Parade.
The theme of the fourth Shearwater Festival in 2015 is ‘Caring for Country’. It will take place on November 21 and 22 on Phillip Island. In 2015, the Festival will feature Shearwater Short Tales, a series of creative collaborations between artists, performers and environmental educators across Gippsland.
Community members will be supported to develop short productions of ten minutes or less in theatre, song, music, dance, poetry, film or mixed media. Shearwater Short Tales will be performed at the Cowes Cultural Centre over the course of the Shearwater Festival weekend.
The Shearwater Festival is auspiced by the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation of Languages and sponsored by the Bass Coast Shire in partnership with Phillip Island Nature Park and ABC Gippsland.
To find out more and to become more actively involved, go to
You can see short films about previous Festivals …
Shearwater Festival 2014 https://vimeo.com/116616171
Shearwater Festival 2013 https://vimeo.com/82049856
Shearwater Festival 2012 https://vimeo.com/58521654
Last month VACL and the Yalka Lotpja group gathered together in a Nganhuk Lotjba or 'show and tell' of Languages.
The Manma Yepanyuk day ('to make nets together' - 'Network') is intended as a coming together and sharing of Languages from across Victoria. This year the day was headed by Aunty Sharon Atkinson, from the Yalka Yotpja group, who hopes to encourage people to 'use it – or lose it'.
A fantastic range of Languages were shared on the day in various ways including poetry, nursery rhymes, creation stories, word games, sign language, conversation, contemporary songs and the national anthem.
A selection of recordings are showcased below and on our Vimeo page, make sure you follow the links and check them out.
More videos can be found at https://vimeo.com/vacl
VACL Board member Brendan Kennedy has published a collection of his songs and stories in Tati Tati, Mutti Mutti and Wadi Wadi languages.The publication titled Wangilatha Wangu Kiyawatha is a beautiful collection of Language songs and stories about the land, water, and animals of the Murray River people and Mallee people (Brendan's mother's people).
The book is brimming with colour, illustrated with Brendan's digital imaging artworks.
VACL is proud to have been part of the project. Our Project Officer, Mandy Nicholson, worked hard with Brendan to help him realise the publication, and to select nine of the dozens of stories he had to share.
To the right is a video of Brendon reading one of the stories included in the book:
Contact VACL to find out more about the publication.
VACL staff were blown away this week by students at Warrnambool Primary School, who did a fantastic job of recording narration for the QBooks project. The QBooks feature stories illustrated and narrated by the students themselves in both English and Peek Wurrung and are designed to foster the students appreciation for, and understanding of, traditional Gunditjmara languages in their area.
Students Airlie O’Brian and Simon Young were chosen to narrate the two stories which will feature in the Gunditjmara QBooks series. Both the students showed an amazing ability to pick up and speak the Peek Wurrung language, reflecting their dedication and enthusiasm for this exciting project.
With little prior exposure to Peek Wurrung, the students received pronunciation coaching from VACL’s own Joel Wright in the weeks leading up to the recording. On the day of the performance both students were very impressive; mastering the pronunciation and showing their pride for the project.
Airlie narrated The Lone Little Seagull by the Hopkins River. This story was written and illustrated by Grade 4 students of Warrnambool Primary School and focuses on reconciling differences and forming friendships.
Simon narrated How the Gundijmara got Fire, a Gunditmara Creation Story illustrated by the primary school students.
VACL is very excited to be working with Warrnambool Primary School on this project which will be available to download from the Apple App store early next year.
For more information on the up and coming QBooks click here
For more information about the Schools Digital Resource Project click here.
This year VACL again supported the Dungala-Kaiela Writers' Awards, a competition open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers with a connection to Shepparton area. Our linguist, Dr Kris Eira, joined with Sharon Atkinson to judge the Language sections, and our EO Paul Paton presented the awards for these sections at Rumbalara, Shepparton, on October 31st.
Four Junior and six Youth entries were received in the Language sections, together with one outstanding Open entry. The judges were pleased to see that the level of Language had risen since last year's Awards, and the entries were highly original, ranging from informative research writing, through personal or imaginative stories, to poetic descriptive pieces.
This competition is working well to encourage young people especially to take an active interest in Language, and raise the use and awareness of Language in this area. Congratulations to the organisers and all the writers.