School further embraces Indigenous language through grant


Karlie Brady


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Head of Curriculum at Mossman State School, Sharon Case, in front of one of the signs featuring the artwork of Binna Swindley and the local Indigenous language. Image: Karlie Brady.
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The State Government has launched its $200,000 Indigenous Languages Grants for 2020 supporting initiatives to teach, learn and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages with grants of up to $25,000.

Mossman State School was among last year’s grant recipients and is a great example of how the grant can be used to promote, preserve and revitalise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects.

Mossman State School used the funding to install signs in Kuku Yalanji language — a visible display of the school’s pride in language and culture.

The signs feature the artwork of local Indigenous artist Binna Swindley, representing the story of the local Kuku Yalanji people.

Head of Curriculum at Mossman State School, Sharon Case said the schools’ P&C applied for the grant which they were able to use to commission the Indigenous artwork for the signs which features the Kuku Yalanji words “Kaday binal-manka” which means “come learn with us”.

Ms Case said since then the school, with the assistance of the local Salsa Sorensen Grant, has been able to use Binna’s artwork for a further 12 bilingual behaviour expectation signs scattered throughout the school with different messages on them.

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“The artwork is also now on our staff shirts, we're looking at adding it to our school uniform shirts, it's on our website, our Facebook page, and our letterheads,” she said.

The artwork will also feature on a new LED sign set to be installed at the school in the coming weeks.

“It's kind of changed the whole fabric of our school.

“It's all about us wanting to embrace our Indigenous culture and embed it into everything we do and send a very clear message to the community that we value our Indigenous culture and language,” Ms Case said.

The artwork and signs are just Mossman State School’s latest language initiative. In 2018, the school, in consultation with elders and leaders of the five local Aboriginal clans, introduced a Kuku Yalanji language program, the first Indigenous languages program that aligns with the Australian Curriculum.

The school is guided by the Kuku Yalanji Language Advisory Group and all students learn language with positive flow-on effects across the school community including in student attendance, behaviour and achievements.

The school embraces a wide representation of cultures, languages and lifestyle among its student, parent and staff cohort with 50 per cent of students identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The Queensland Government Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations, Grace Grace, encouraged more schools to apply for this year’s languages grants.

“Last year’s Language Grants Program funded some great initiatives across our schools, and I look forward to seeing even more schools throwing their hats into the ring this year,” Minister Grace said.

Minister for Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the grants of up to $25,000 will support local, regional and state-wide initiatives which bring together schools, local groups and wider communities with language speakers, Elders and Traditional Owners to help languages live on.

“Language is fundamental to identity and wellbeing, and encouraging all Queenslanders to respect, embrace and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language and culture is a positive step towards local thriving communities,” Minister Crawford said.

“Given this year’s International theme is focused on the resilience of Indigenous peoples, we understand how crucial the survival and maintenance of Indigenous languages is to building resilience of First Nations Queenslanders.”

Applications for the Queensland Government’s Indigenous Language Grants 2020 close 11.59 pm (AEST) Tuesday 6 October 2020. To apply or find out more visit 

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