Aboriginal language programs available for more schools and kinders

Schools and early childhood services are teaching Aboriginal languages with the support of Aboriginal teachers, Elders and communities.

Aboriginal teachers can train to teach an Aboriginal language. Aboriginal community members can also train to be an Aboriginal language instructor in a school, early years or adult education setting. They can study the Certificate III in Learning an Endangered Aboriginal Language and a Certificate IV in Teaching an Endangered Aboriginal Language.

Aboriginal education in Gippsland

In Gippsland, Bruthen Primary School started teaching Gunai/Kurnai language and culture last year.

Bruthen Primary School students and teacher Nikki Hood hold an Aboriginal flag
Bruthen Primary School students and teacher Nikki Hood hold an Aboriginal flag

The school worked with Koorie Engagement Support Officers and local Elders, and asked for community and student input.

Gunai/Kurnai teacher and Traditional Owner Nikki Hood shares her language and culture with her Year 3/4 class. She says the students look forward to it every week.

'I can hear the littlies using the local language in the playground,' Nikki says. 'It's really awesome! They're very passionate about it now.'

Nikki says the students are interested in language, local sites and art. She says teaching the Gunai/Kurnai program with her students is 'pretty special'.

'I've learned along with them,' Nikki says. 'There wasn't much in my schooling and it's come back to East Gippsland now. There's more resources.'

Principal Michelle Young says the culture program is teaching important lessons to the students. 'There's a lot we can learn about how we can better learn about place and the significance of belonging,' Michelle says. 

'The sense of belonging really comes from understanding your place. It's nice that all kids develop that – especially for our Koorie kids.'

‘It gives them a sense of pride in their culture and feel proud of who they are. I think that is important - everybody needs to be proud of who they are, and understand differences and acceptance of others.’

Bruthen Primary School won a Victorian Education Excellence Award for Outstanding Koorie Education.

Several other schools in Gippsland are also hoping to introduce a Gunai/Kurnai language program in the near future.

See more info at the Aboriginal Languages and Culture Victoria webpage. 

Learning across Victoria

Teaching Aboriginal languages and cultural perspectives in early childhood, schools and tertiary education supports the Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan 2016 – 2026.

Bruthen Primary School students and symbols
Bruthen Primary School students and teacher Nikki Hood with Gunai/Kurnai symbols

The Certificate III in Learning an Endangered Aboriginal Language and Certificate IV in Teaching an Endangered Aboriginal Language will be on the government funded course list from 2020. Pilot participants from the Certificate III will be supported to continue to the Certificate IV on full scholarship.

The Certificate III pilot is being delivered by the Victorian School of Languages in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated and the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages. Participants in the Certificate III learn their own language. The course is delivered as an empowerment model where students get the tools they need to research and learn their language. They have the support of linguists, Elders and their own communities.

The courses will help boost the number of instructors who can teach Koorie language programs.