The Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring Miriwoong Language and Cultural Centre is developing innovative ways to reawaken languages.

12 September 2019

The language centre in Kununurra, Western Australia, has been supporting the preservation, revitalisation and nurturing of the Miriwoong language and culture since the 1970s.

A Language Nest and a master-apprentice program, are two new additions to the award-winning language centre's work to revitalise language.

The Language Nest uses immersion techniques, based on a successful model developed by the Maori in New Zealand, to surround youngsters with language and culture. The initiative has been positively received, with more than 400 children participating in sessions each week.

The Language Nest team has also released a book entitled ‘Gooloo-gooloob Yarroondayan', which means ‘We are all happy'. This book is yet another example of the strong work being done by the language centre to include community in revitalising language.

Both the ideas and illustrations for the book were created by Year One Language Nest participants at Kununurra District High School.

Founding Member of the Language and Cultural Centre David Newry said, ‘if we lose language, we will be lost. There will be nobody to look to'.

‘The children are now teaching their parents, grandparents and guardians new Miriwoong words.'

Further success has been seen in the adoption of the Knowledge Cycle – a master-apprentice style program which brings together Elders and youth and focuses on ways to help young people relate to, and connect with, their ancient language.

‘There are only a limited number of Elders who can share their precious knowledge of language and the traditional way of life. We depend on these Elders, as long as they are with us, to pass on wisdom to younger generations.'

The innovative Miriwoong Language and Cultural Centre has won numerous awards and was a finalist at the Curtin University Teaching Excellence Award (WA Regional Achievement and Community Awards).

The International Year of Indigenous Languages provides an opportunity to raise further awareness of the crucial role that organisations like Miriwoong play in helping maintain and revitalise language. 

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