More than a dozen First Nations people have completed a new tertiary course that's been created to connect communities to culture and revive the Wayilwan language.
'Basic Aboriginal Languages for Social Use' is a 19-week part-time course facilitated by the TAFE campus in the northern New South Wales town of Warren and run by a husband and wife team from the local community.
Over its duration, students gained practical skills and knowledge that got them to the point where they can conduct a conversation in fundamental Wayilwan, either in speech or text.
“We know Aboriginal people who speak their language are healthier, Aboriginal children learning their language do better at school, and that language renewal strengthens communities.”
Course teacher Ronald 'Uncle John' Lane said Wayilwan has always been spoken in the area.
“It’s only right that new generations of Aboriginal people have an educational path to learning the language of their people.” he said.
His wife, Elizabeth 'Aunty Beth' Wright stressed the importance of reviving and preserving the old ways.
“We know Aboriginal people who speak their language are healthier, Aboriginal children learning their language do better at school, and that language renewal strengthens communities.” she said.
Graduate Phyllis Oates said she felt "empowered" by completing the course.
“Learning your language empowers you as an individual and strengthens your identity. Couldn’t encourage our mob to get in there and do it more,” she said.
"It's a really significant and proud day. I'm really please about learning my language."
The creation of the groundbreaking course came about community demand and consultation with TAFE and its success has meant it will be rerun next semester.