Last month, Paul travelled to Sydney to participate in the three day Indigenous Digital Excellence Summit. Day 1 was packed full of presentations ranging from entrepreneurs who've utilised digital technology to achieve business success, academics spoke about the number of Indigenous people completing IT courses (which is very low) and what the future of jobs looks like and how we need to be prepared for this. Paul also spoke from the viewpoint of using digital excellence in revitalising culture demonstrating the iPad Apps which we developed last year.
The next two days were focused on constructing and working towards the development of a National Indigenous Digital Excellence Strategy. The strategy will focus on areas such as Employment, Health, Entrepreneurship, Education and Culture. Experts from the digital industry joined the group on the last day to provide their professional contributions with the closing address left to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to give priority to this important strategy and a commitment of future funding to see it realised.
As a bonus, Paul gave the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull a brief tour of one of our Apps which were on display after the summit!
Students at Swan Hill Primary School are enjoying their third year learning Wemba Wemba language, taught by Wemba Wemba Elder Aunty Steph Charles and Koorie Educator Andrew Cameron.
Lessons to date have focused around the use of traditional language in a contemporary context through themes such as local birds, greetings, family members and body parts, taught through repetition, gesture, songs and memory games. Launched on Monday 15th February 2016, students have now created their own Wemba Wemba Language Program resource in the form of an interactive digital app, which contains word list categories accompanied by images and audio, in Wemba Wemba.
With the support of key Elders Aunty Steph Charles & Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir, Swan Hill Primary School Principal Janet Barnard, Koorie Educator Andrew Cameron, Community Linguist Vaso Elefsiniotis, Teacher Rachel Moloney and VACL Project Officer Emma Hutchinson, Grade 3 students learning Wemba Wemba undertook a series of workshops in which they created hundreds of drawings and photographs for the app, illustrating each language word.
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.
The App is available now for FREE download at the App Store, for use on iPad and iPhone.
A set of six Gunnai/Kurnai story books originally published in 2008 have been redeveloped into digital resources and released as six brand new Aboriginal language apps featuring Gunnai/Kurnai language of the Gunnai/Kurnai peoples of Gippsland in east Victoria. Launched on Monday 14th December 2015 at Dala Yooro Pre-School in Bairnsdale, the six interactive digital storybook apps feature traditional Gunnai/Kurnai Creation Stories including why Kowern the Echidna has spikes on his back and how Wurrin the Sun was made. These stories are supported by illustrations and narration from Gunnai/Kurnai community members and artists. Interactive digital story books are a great resource for children of all ages to develop reading and comprehension skills and can be used as part of a lesson plan or reading strategy and to help children learn spelling and pronunciation.
Click the icon above to download the apps.
The Apps are available now for download at the App Store, for use on iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch.
Representatives from First Languages Australia Paul Paton (Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages) and Daryn McKenny (Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre) were in New York last week to take part in the United Nations 2016 expert group meeting on Indigenous Languages.
The meeting Indigenous Languages: preservation and revitalization (articles 13, 14 and 16 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) was undertaken to build upon recommendations from the previous expert group meeting in 2008, focusing on the principles of cultural diversity and indigenous languages as a way to promote intercultural dialogue and affirm indigenous peoples identity.
Both Paul and Daryn had the opportunity to speak at the meeting about the state of language revival in Australia and demonstrate projects and initiates which are making positive inroads into language revival and cultural strengthening.
To read more about the meeting click here
"When we started to get our language back, we got our power back" - Daryn
Last week the Shearwater Festival drew guests from across Victoria and the world to celebrate the migration of the short-tailed shearwater birds to Phillip Island. The aim of the festival is to develop partnerships, cross cultural understanding and environmental awareness about the short-tailed shearwaters, which are a significant part of local indigenous culture. The festival takes the opportunity to celebrate diversity and culture, featuring language as one of the main components.
Events at the festival included a lively street parade, performances, workshops and guided tours. VACL is proud to take part in and auspice the festival which has a strong focus on language where Victorian Aboriginal Elders and artists participated in telling stories, sharing poetry, playing music and exhibiting artwork. Many of the activities were in language including Aunty Caroline Briggs' Welcome To Country, songs by Marbee Williams in Boon Wurrung and Wiradjuri, Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir's poetry reading and Mick Harding's poetry and stories in Taungurung. Other presentations included Kutcha Edwards singing in Mutti Mutti and performances of rain songs by choir singers in a Northern Australian language.
The cultural emersion also incorporated languages of the world with an interactive chanting activity, responding to each other with words of peace in a unifying performance with the audience. Indigenous leaders and performers from Africa and First Nations in Canada and the USA were also involved in the festival, bringing song, dance, music and language to the stage.
Check out photos from the festival in the image gallery below.
Read more about the project here.
Visit the festival website here.
The Boon Wurrung word for the short-tailed shearwater is Biyadin. The bird is also known as Yolla, Muttonbird, Moonbird and Ardenna Tenuirostris. The shearwaters have deep cultural significance for the Boon Wurrung people, having brought the community together for thousands of years for feasts, gatherings and ceremonies, on what is now called Phillip Island.
The fourth Shearwater Festival was held on November 21st & 22nd, an annual creative, cultural and environmental event which brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members together to celebrate the return of the short-tailed shearwaters from their 15,000 kilometre migration. The shearwaters are celebrated as symbols of local and global interconnectedness.
This year's festival included a street parade, workshops, performances and guided walks and talks to the shearwater rookeries. The festival warmly welcomed members of refugee communities who now live in Australia, featuring a special concert 'Womin djeka Africa' (Welcome Africa) in which African and Indigenous performers collaborated in performance, art, music and song.
Preceding the festival is the Shearwater Education Program which is facilitated in local schools and includes visits from artists, musicians, environmentalists and Indigenous Elders. Linked to the festival and education program is the Cross-Cultural Message Exchange, in which artworks and messages are shared between artists, children and Indigenous Elders around the world. This year's festival featured Indigenous artists and community leaders from First Nations in Canada and the USA.
Scroll down to see images from this year's festival and a film titled 'Interwoven', concieved by Rachel Mounsey, commissioned by the Shearwater Festival and featuring poetry by Taungurung artist Mick Harding and Adnyamathanha Elder Uncle Dennis Seymour.
VACL was in Lakes Entrance on the weekend to support the first ever Ngarigo Monero Language Workshop with the Ninde Ngujarn Ngarigo Monero Aboriginal Corporation.
There were 16 participants who came from as far as Melbourne, Sydney and the south coast of New South Wales to attend the workshop.
The workshop was facilitated by Doris Paton under the guidance of Aunty Rachel Mullett, a Ngarigo Monero Elder who is still very strong in her language. The group learnt words and pronounciation that they were able to use on a daily basis, focusing on people, food and animals. The group are looking forward to having more workshops to continue practising their language skills and work towards creating learning resources in the future.
To learn more about Ngingal Training Workshops offered by VACL click here
Scroll down to see more images from the workhsop.
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
The Robinvale Language Program 'Yakila Yarna Thalingi' (Learning to Speak Language) began at Robinvale P-12 College in July 2015, with Brendan Kennedy teaching local Aboriginal languages Tati Tati, Latji Latji, Wadi Wadi and Mutti Mutti to students from Prep to Grade 3.
The College has chosen an innovative approach to their Languages Other Than English (LOTE) program, offering all Prep to Grade 2 students classes in four different language groups; Aboriginal Indigenous, European, Pacific Islands and Asian. Students are then given the option of choosing which one to specialise in from Grade 3 onwards.
As part of the Aboriginal Languages class students have been learning songs, stories, games, body parts, plant names and places, all of which are imbedded with local knowledge and culture.
"I have a passion for my past, my peoples and my ancestral history. Language is imbedded within the landscape and it's not fair that our language doesn't recieve the respect and recognition it deserves. I've got a responsibility to make sure our kids and our grandkids have access to our language. All the answers we are looking for are in our language." - Brendan Kennedy
Brendan was born at Robinvale on Tati Tati Country and is a descendant of the Tati Tati, Wadi Wadi and Mutti Mutti tribal lands and language groups.
Brendan is also currently teaching language classes at Murray Valley Aboriginal Co-operative Early Child-Care Centre, Robinvale Pre-School and Mallee Family Care Playgroup.
To download a pdf version of Yakila Yarna Thalingi (Learning to Speak Language) click here
The Digital Children's Book Fair is an international event in Japan celebrating the best digital children's books from around the world. Authors, illustrators, app developers and distributors were brought together at the end of August to select and award stories targeted at children made as ebooks, apps and other formats. The international event is the first of its kind focused on digital publishing for children.
The Wurundjeri Creation Story called Dulaiwurrung Mungka-nj-bulanj (How the Platypus was Made) received an award for excellence in the Digital Children's Book Fair. Congratulations to Thornbury Primary School and Kiwa Digital who worked in collaboration with VACL on this project.
In April 2015 VACL launched three interactive digital storybooks featuring Creation Stories of the Wurundjeri People in both Woiwurrung and English; Balayang Wurrgarrabil-ut (Why Bats are Black), Gurrborra Nguba-nj Ngabun Baanj (Why the Koala Doesn't Drink Water) and Dulaiwurrung Mungka-nj-bulanj (how the Platypus Was Made).
To download the story in the app store by click here
To learn more about this project click here
To read more about the Digital Children's Book Fair click here