On International Day of Families we acknowledge the many families who work tirelessly to revive their lost languages.

15 May 2019

On International Day of Families we acknowledge the many families who work tirelessly to revive their lost languages.

One of these is Patricia O'Connor, her son Rory and daughter Faith Baisden, who have devoted much of their lives to keep Yugambeh language and heritage alive.

A respected Yugambeh Elder, Patricia is a long-time language campaigner. In recognition of her work she was selected to represent Australia at the launch of the Commonwealth Games Queen's baton relay in London.

In 2014 Patricia was named the NAIDOC Week Female Elder of the Year for her work in the Kombumerri Aboriginal Corporation for Culture, which is also known as Yugambeh Museum.

Her son Rory is the current CEO of the Yugambeh Language Centre. The former journalist is the driving force behind initiatives to promote traditional knowledge through language.

'Many Aboriginal people have lost contact with their land and ancestry,' Rory said. 'Yugambeh people are privileged that we haven't, thanks to our Elders.'

Rory campaigned for the Queensland Commonwealth Games to have its first Indigenous mascot, Borobi. The much loved blue koala is now the face of Yugambeh Museum Language and Heritage Research Centre's online classroom teaching portal.

His sister Faith Baisden is the coordinator of peak body, First Languages Australia and is also a language champion.

She is also a member of the Queensland Indigenous Languages Advisory Committee and has a strong interest in the production of resources for language programs, language teacher training and the use of new technologies to help with language teaching.

'Languages matter, because that's where our soul is,' Faith said. 'That's how we tell our stories. If we can't speak in our own language, how can anyone actually understand us? How can we tell the stories that were passed down forever and ever in someone else's language? We have to speak from our heart in our own language.

'And, this year we want to celebrate the people who were the first players in that movement (to preserve language). And, to make sure we all capitalise on it and make languages strong right into the future.'

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Yugambeh elders Ted Williams and Patricia O’Connor share the stage with the Queen at the launch of the 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton relay at Buckingham Palace. Photo courtesy of NITV.