Nine Swinburne students have become the first in Victoria to graduate with a Certificate IV in Teaching an Endangered Aboriginal Language, giving them the skills, knowledge and understanding to teach the languages of First Peoples.
The course will enable the graduating teachers to share their knowledge and passion for Aboriginal Languages with kindergartens, schools and communities, with a pathway available for further study to become a vocational trainer.
The pilot program was supported by a $428,000 grant through the Victorian Department of Education’s Koorie Outcomes Division and covered the teaching of five Aboriginal languages: Woi Wurrung, Wada Wurrung, Gunai/Kurnai, Wergaia, and Peek Wooroong.
Indigenous Liaison Officer Lea Jones from the Moondani Toombadool Centre (MTC), who has been at Swinburne for seven years, worked alongside Taungarung Elder and linguistic expert Aunty Lee Healy to deliver the course in a culturally safe and supportive environment.
MTC Manager Indigenous Student Services Vicky Peters says that Jones and Aunty Healy worked tirelessly to support students as they pursued their passion to help revive, learn, teach and preserve Aboriginal languages.
‘Language is part of our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander DNA,’ says Peters. ‘The course can ensure the language element of Aboriginal culture, spirit and identity is not lost forever.’
‘I want to thank Lea Jones, Aunty Lee Healy, all our partners, staff and our students for ensuring our languages continue to be taught and spoken in our communities.’
Taking the next step
The course builds on the delivery of a Certificate III in Learning an Endangered Aboriginal Language course at the Victorian School of Languages (VSL) in 2019 and was delivered in partnership with the VSL, the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc and the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation of Language.
Training included theory and considerations relating to the history, culture and structure of each language, embedding a deep understanding of its importance to Country and its people.
Aunty Lee Healy says the graduating teachers will leave footprints for others to follow.
‘It is important for the next generation to be able to teach their Aboriginal language on Country where it belongs and where it will always be a living language, like it was for our ancestors long ago,’ says Aunty Healy.
MTC Executive Director, Professor Andrew Gunstone, congratulated the students and staff on completing the course, despite the challenges presented by COVID in 2020 and 2021.
‘I am delighted to congratulate the students and staff for their work in this very important course. The course engages with Swinburne’s commitments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and cultural safety.’