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Lessons learnt in 2008

The three main topics are:

  • Language, culture and country
  • A language program steering committee
  • Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people working together.

Language, culture and country

At the first planning meeting, Diane McNaboe gave the Welcome to Country which included a text from the Wiradjuri Elders Council with advice on how to live well and take care of country. All of the people in the room were very moved by the wisdom and generosity of these Wiradjuri words, and decided the text would become the foundation for the Stage 4 program. Also at the first planning meeting, Aunty Pat Doolan, local AECG President, led a discussion which began with emu eggs and incorporated extensive local Aboriginal knowledge and expertise about country. This too had a significant impact on the people in the room and this kind of knowledge and expertise has also become a foundation for the Stage 4 program.

It is the connections between language, culture and country, as well as the community and Elders’ input that give this program so much integrity. Tyson Yunkaporta, Aboriginal Education Consultant

A language program steering committee

The steering committee plays a key role in facilitating the relationship between the schools and the community. It keeps the community informed of the progress and purpose of the language program. It also provides feedback from Elders, and support and direction to the program writing team.

Members of the steering committee were invited to meet with the various elders groups in Dubbo (eg Allira and Thubbo). Attending where Aunty Pat Doolan, Michelle Doolan, Richard Skinner, Allan Hall, Louise Bye and myself. Aunty Pat chaired the meetings and the process of meeting the elders. This included everyone at the meeting sharing some of their personal life with elders and vice versa. I can only say that for myself I will never forget these discussions. To have these elders share some of their life was amazing stuff. We shared the concept and process of what we are doing with the language program and acknowledge the different groups in the Dubbo community and the purpose of the Wiradjuri Language program. The program was completely supported by all elders groups and the support for in-class interaction with the elders was also encouraging. Tom ‘Alca’ Simpson, Manager, Youth Excel Program

Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people working together

Both the writing team and the steering committee are made up of school staff and community members. As with other Aboriginal languages programs across NSW, the Wiradjuri program will be for all students, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.

Though it is a languages program, and the syllabus is similar to other languages syllabuses, the Wiradjuri program is unique, and quite different from, say, a French program. I have learnt a lot about Wiradjuri country through being involved in the writing team. I am interested in all languages and am fascinated by the Wiradjuri dictionary. Bernard Lafforgue, French Teacher

Congratulations to the Wiradjuri Language program team for Dubbo College. A highlight of 2008 has been the strength and unity of the response from the Elders groups, and the way the school and community have been able to work together. Teaching will begin in 2009.

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