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Miriwoong Bright Futures

Supporting Mirima Council Aboriginal Corporation

Give to Indigenous language support - Miriwoong language

Tax deductible donation

Mirima Council Aboriginal Corporation

Indigenous language support - Miriwoong language

Tax deductible donation

Join us in our mission to save the Miriwoong language as we offer a new after school class which celebrates and teaches our endangered language and culture to new generations!

A Language on the Brink of Extinction
Miriwoong is the Indigenous language of the lands surrounding the remote Western Australian town of Kununurra. Currently our language is classified as critically endangered, with only a handful of fluent speakers of this once vibrant language now remaining. All of these speakers are quite old and frail, meaning that there is a very real risk that the Miriwoong language will simply disappear when those final few Elders are lost to us.

The wisdom and culture of Miriwoong people can only truly be understood through the language that has been used for thousands of years to teach it. Therefore, if Miriwoong continues to be forced into further obscurity so too will the culture, knowledge and history of Miriwoong people. If this happens, Australia will lose another rich piece of its Indigenous culture, histories and knowledge. But for Miriwoong people the situation will be much starker. The loss of language and culture has already had profound and long-lasting effects for both Miriwoong communities and individuals; contributing significantly to the intergenerational trauma and hardships suffered since colonisation. It is particularly damaging to children who, in their early years, are developing the foundations of their sense of self and self-esteem.

With your help though, we can prevent this loss and help save Miriwoong.

Why is Saving a Language Important?
Language plays a critical role in the development of an individual’s sense of identity, of belonging to a certain place or community and for forming a connection with a particular culture. Our Elders strongly believe that one of the most effective ways of addressing the vast social challenges facing our community is to learn our mother tongue, so that our people will be able to reconnect with their heritage and foster greater pride and respect in themselves and in their culture.

Current research strongly supports this as well. A growing body of studies have shown that a stronger connection with culture and the ability to speak your mother tongue are associated with:

  • Markedly better physical and mental health
  • Higher levels of attending and completing school, and individuals are more likely to gain a post-school qualification
  • Being more likely to be employed
  • Lower rates of incarceration
  • Lower rates of alcohol and illicit substance abuse

One study even found that among Indigenous communities in Canada where traditional language use was still strong that the youth suicide rate was significantly lower than communities with little to no knowledge of language. Tragically, the growing rate Indigenous youth suicide is a major crisis in the Kimberley and it is findings such as these that demonstrate how Indigenous languages, as a marker of cultural continuity, are a strong predictor of health and wellbeing within Indigenous communities.

The revitalisation of the Miriwoong language is critical to ensuring that its culture, history and knowledge will continue to be learned and practiced. And with the disturbing trend of Indigenous youth suicide becoming more and more commonplace, language revitalisation will play an important role in creating a cultural life that young people judge as worth living.

“Our Miriwoong identity is similar to a flower. The seeds stem out of the country and grows through the language and culture. We have to follow the example of that flower and keep our language alive because without it our identity will be lost.” David Newry, Founding Member of MDWg.

Children are the future for saving Miriwoong 
Children must keep learning and have a chance to practice with native speakers who inspire them. MDWg currently runs a language nest program with various organisations in and around Kununurra. The aim of the program is to increase both the knowledge and use of Miriwoong in the community, with a focus on early childhood. Since young children are at the optimal age for language learning, we have high hopes of making a difference in the preservation of Miriwoong. By participating in this program, children will also develop a stronger cultural awareness and pride, improve their self–esteem, and increase their prospects of better learning in the standard school environment. 

Currently the Miriwoong Language Nest program reaches students of Kununurra District High school & Saint Joseph’s Catholic Primary school from pre-primary through to year 3. It is currently run as a LOTE subject at Saint Joseph’s and in 2019 will expand to encompass grade 4 students. At Kununurra District High School, it’s currently an extra-curricular activity with a view to become a LOTE program in 2020. During 2019 the Language Nest sessions will be taught up to year 2 at Kununurra District High school. Although this provides a great opportunity for many students in Kununurra, the implications of these decisions means current year 2 and 3 students at Kununurra District High School stop learning Miriwoong in 2019 and are no longer able to further develop and progress their skills. Two years of development will be lost.

Miriwoong Bright Futures
Starting in Term 1, 2019, MDW-g will provide an afterschool Miriwoong language class to Miriwoong children once a week to continue to inspire them to learn. An intense one-hour class run by two language workers and a linguist would take place in the public library with healthy snacks provided. All resources would be supplied. Once throughout each term, an elder will attend a class to assess their progress, encourage, motivate and inspire the children in the program.

Language workers would have the benefit of speaking Miriwoong at a higher level consistently and would gain experience of preparing lesson plans for higher learning.

How you can help us Save Miriwoong?
We need $4,100 to fund the first term of Miriwoong Bright Futures. With this funding we will have the resources to develop and present an hour-long after school language class once a week for a term.

Your donation will contribute towards:

  • Training our Indigenous staff in preparing and presenting lesson plans
  • Consulting with Elders and Language Workers to develop lesson plans
  • Purchasing and production of resources for lessons
  • Wages for language workers and linguists involved in the program
  • Healthy snacks for those children attending classes

Given the endangered status of Miriwoong, it is critically important to pass on the language, stories, songs and knowledge of our Elders before it is too late.

Please donate today and help save Miriwoong. A small contribution can make a big difference where many work together.

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Ends on 21/12/2018 at 3:00 PM

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