News from the HDSC Gunditjmara Languages and Culture Program

Reconciliation Week – 27 May – 3 June 2014


Gunditjmara Languages Workshops

On Thursday, May 29, all our Year 7 students ran Gunditjmara Language workshops with 170 Grade 5 & 6 students from all around our district. This was part of the Aboriginal Language and Culture component of the Year 7 integrated program ‘Literacy, Literature and Life’. The primary students were split into two large groups, with one group participating in traditional games, led by Jason Saunders of Winda-Mara, and the other engaging in our Gunditjmara Language workshops. After that, the two groups swapped. The Year 7s worked in groups of 3 to prepare a language activity. Each group of Year 7s taught 5 words to each group of around 10 primary students, with a rotation every 5 minutes. We worked out that by the end of the two sessions, each Year 7 group had presented their workshop 16 times!! It was a very busy and productive day, with lots of positive comments about our students and their activities from primary students and teachers alike.Workshop topics included: Greetings; Locations; Colours; Family; People; The Body; Actions and Animals.

One thing that everyone learned was how to say ‘hello’ in the local language. There are two ways of saying this: ngatanwarr means to say hello to one person OR to formally greet many people. The other way is that shown on the signage around the school: ngatanwaan means hello and welcome to many people.

The 'colours' group presented the challenge to students to try to remember 5 colours in Gunditjmara Language so as to be able to point to the correct place on the table where that colour was represented. One of the more challenging words was keerreek keerreek koonteeyt (red!).

Glenelg Shire’s Reconciliation Week Event

On Friday, May 30, the Glenelg Shire held its annual Reconciliation Week Event. A small group of Year 8 Gunditjmara Language and Culture students attended, accompanied by school Aboriginal Language Program Coordinator Ms Steph Tashkoff. The event took place at the Portland Civic Hall, in front of the Mayor, Councillor John Northcott, the Shire councillors and around 200 invited guests.

The gathering was opened in style by the Winda Mara dancers, including HDSC’s own Jamaine Jones, Braydon Saunders and Taram Frankland. Braydon Saunders and Steph Tashkoff acknowledged Country in the local Dhauwurd Wurrung dialect and, when it was time for a representative of each local secondary college to speak, Leyla Quartermaine gave her point of view on what reconciliation actually means and how she feels encouraged to aim high and participate at school. Leyla then pointed out what still needs to be done in the reconciliation journey. During the lunch break, a video was shown which had been produced by local Koorie youth during film workshops run by the Victorian College of the Arts during the previous holidays. This humorous short film featured Braydon Saunders and Kiah Morgan (Year 8) and former student Sean (Macca) Bell.

When it was time for the guest speaker, Deborah Cheetham - Koorie soprano, opera singer and composer and educator shared her own journey about learning to be strong and confident in her culture. She referred positively both to Leyla’s speech and to the Aboriginal Language and Culture program at HDSC. Deborah spoke of how important it is to Aboriginal and Islander young people to have their culture acknowledged and respected within their school environment and she affirmed HDSC for the work that we are doing in this regard.

Braydon Saunders, Year 8 at HDSC, led the Winda-Mara
dancers and also gave the Welcome to Country in Language.

Gallery: Language Workshops

Primary students and HDSC Year 7 presenters alike enjoyed the experience!

HDSC Year 7s created their own resources and developed games to help them teach the primary students. Here a Year 7 student explains how to pronounce the different terms for people.

Koorie primary school participants enjoyed sharing in learning about local language.

Primary students and their teachers enjoyed the challenge of learning some new vocab!

The 'actions' group was a very competitive one, with some very focused students trying to beat each other to the correct action first!!

2 of the 8 different table groups operating in the Portland Civic Hall.

Year 8 student at HDSC, Braydon Saunders, along with HDSC Language Program coordinator, Steph Tashkoff, present the Acknowledgement of Country in the local Dhauwurd Wurrung dialect.

Year 10 HDSC student, Leyla Quartermaine, presents her ideas about reconciliation.