Strengthening the learning and use of Aboriginal language is a growing priority for education in this state, with various programs being implemented to support the reclamation and revival of Aboriginal languages across Victoria.
One of these initiatives has been the development of an accredited course currently being piloted through the TAFE sector. The Certificate III in Learning an Endangered Aboriginal Language is a new pilot program customised for Victoria and developed in accordance to the Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan (2016-2026) action 2.
Multiple parties came together to develop the program including VAEAI, Victorian School of Languages (VSL), Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for languages (VACL) and the Department of Education and Training.
The Certificate III in Learning an Endangered Aboriginal Language has been developed around a student empowerment model, designed to give participants the understanding, skills and resources to build up knowledge of their own traditional languages by engaging with their community, whilst also incorporating early wordlists and grammar found in historical records.
VAEAI’s Wurreker Program Officer, Tina Sahin, is involved in higher-learning for Koorie students and believes we are at an important stage in the reclamation and revival of Victorian Aboriginal languages.
“We need to remember and acknowledge that in Victoria historically, as elsewhere across the country, the speaking and daily practice of Aboriginal languages was broadly restricted under prohibitive policies and practices of the day, leading to a critical state of decline and language loss, said Sahin
“As a result, Koorie community members have been involved in reclaiming their languages for many years, using a combination of historical records and known language.”
The ability to learn and study languages through coursework has been well received and students from a range of Aboriginal communities have been passionately involved with the learning, understanding and teaching of Aboriginal languages.
“The response has been fantastic. The 12-month course commenced in October 2018 with a class of 19 students, and we’re about to run our first intensive residential for 2019.
“The Certificate III course is made up of nine core units, two electives and four residential blocks to be held at various locations throughout the year to support the structured learning of the students.”
As always there is a focus on ensuring that language education and the teaching of Aboriginal languages is done in accordance with established community cultural protocols.
As such, this Certificate III program involves community learning and relies on Community Elders to guide and educate throughout the process as Aboriginal Languages and cultures are taught and learned.
“It is vitally important to include Elders and community within the course, whole community knowledge and input is needed when reviving or learning language, it is a journey not only for the individual but for the whole Aboriginal community in which language is being revived or learnt.” said Sahin
VAEAI is excited to see how the course progresses with a massive amount of interest and a Certificate IV in Teaching an Endangered Aboriginal Language simultaneously being developed.