When I first came to teach in Parkes, I was struck by the prevalence of Wiradjuri language in my school, and in the wider community. At the very first assembly that I attended, and at all subsequent gatherings, the ‘Welcome to Country’ was given, with confidence and enthusiasm, by students speaking in the Wiradjuri language. In our staffrooms and classrooms, brightly coloured, laminated posters of Wiradjuri vocabulary adorned the walls and doors. There was a large mural in the main quadrangle, painted by Indigenous students, with a message of welcome and harmony carefully printed in both Wiradjuri and English. The AEO’s office provided information on TAFE and university courses for students to learn more about Wiradjuri culture and language.
In the early eighties, there were, apparently, only three speakers of Wiradjuri. As documented elsewhere on this blog, Stan Grant Snr and the anthropologist Dr John Rudder instigated the Wiradjuri Language Reclamation Project in 1997. In 2005, local Indigenous leaders came together with teachers from the local schools to work out a way to integrate Wiradjuri language and culture studies into the curriculum effectively and meaningfully. So far the reclamation and revival of Wiradjuri appears to be relatively successful, at least within the Parkes school communities. As an example, Wiradjuri language is now taught in the high school in year 7 and 8, and senior students completing their major project for Aboriginal Studies routinely work with Wiradjuri elders investigating aspects of Wiradjuri culture.
The following links to the Board of Studies: Aboriginal Educational Contexts site, detail my school’s (Parkes High School) journey in our effort to revive Wiradjuri Language.
I have also included a video produced for ABC OPEN series about how my school and our feeder schools in Parkes are helping reclaim Wiradjuri language.
I have also included a link to ourlanguages.org.au, which contains videos showing some of our local Parkes primary school children speaking Wiradjuri.