Funds to teach local language

THE Gamilaraay language will be exposed to a new generation of speakers, with almost $30,000 going towards teaching students the region’s Indigenous language.

The pilot program will be rolled out by the Warra-li Resource Unit with the help of local Gamilaraay man Len Waters.

The Gamilaraay language was once spoken from Singleton all the way to southern Queensland.

Mr Waters said they were looking at taking the program to schools in Hillvue, Toomelah and Walhallow, teaching students through video conferences, face-to-face lessons and multi-day workshops.

In the past, Aboriginal languages have been taught “sporadically” at schools across the region.

Mr Waters wants to move away from teaching students only one or two words. Instead he intends to teach them phrases that they can use in their everyday lives.

“We want to deliver it in an exciting way,” he said.

“It’s important to weave the language into modern day, so we can have the kids talking about modern experiences rather than traditional experiences.

“That makes the language more exciting for them.”

While Mr Waters doesn’t expect people to become fluent in Gamilaraay, he hopes it becomes more common throughout the region.

“When I say normally, I always find it interesting when New Zealand sings its national anthem half in Maori and the other half in English,” he said.

“But I would just be happy if, in the land of the Gamilaraay, people started speaking it a lot more.”

Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson announced the state government funding from the Our Languages, Our Way program yesterday, to coincide with NAIDOC Week celebrations.

Mr Anderson said most schools are already taught Aboriginal history, culture and dance.

“Now we are going to take that a step further with language,” Mr Anderson said.

“We want that language to flourish, we want to learn more about it and we want to make sure it has every support possible.

“This grant will support a range of community-driven activities designed to empower and inspire a new generation of speakers.

“We have a strong local Aboriginal heritage in our region, so it’s important that we support these cultural programs to preserve and promote our proud Indigenous history.”

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