We take a look at a project revitalising the Miriwoong language of Western Australia.

25 May 2018

The Miriwoong Dawang Woorlab-gerring (MDWg) Language and Culture Centre has been operating in Western Australia since the 1970s to preserve, analyse and record the Miriwoong language and culture.

MDWg have created the Miriwoong Language Nest which teaches the Miriwoong language to almost 400 children every week. Early learning centres, primary schools and high schools in Kununurra, Western Australia all have the chance to learn the language in the classroom. MDWg language workers assist in the delivery of the language lessons which are led by senior language worker Glennis Galbat-Newry, and have led to an increase in Miriwoong language proficiency. 

In addition to the classroom activity, digital learning aides such as a language app and resource books with which use digital pens to give the audio version of a Miriwoong word are being used.

At a local level, Miriwoong is described as the most widely spoken language in the Kununurra region, after English. The preservation of language is vital to the maintenance and practice of Miriwoong culture. These lessons allow the community to strengthen and develop skills so people continue to speak the language of the local Miriwoong people.

Of an an estimated 250 original Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in Australia, only about 120 are still spoken with most of these now considered endangered.

Recognising that languages play an important role in building connections within communities and strengthening culture, the Australian Government’s Indigenous Languages and Arts program provides funding for projects like Miriwoong Language Nest, that aim to protect, preserve and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages for future generations.

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