• Students pose for a photo with Borobi the koala at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The Yugambeh language, once considered dormant by linguists, has been given new life by school students in south-east Queensland.
NITV Staff Writer

28 Aug 2019 - 1:00 PM  UPDATED 28 Aug 2019 - 1:00 PM

Borobi the koala has emerged from his post Commonwealth Games hibernation to continue championing the Yugambeh traditional language.

The adorable blue koala won many fans on the Gold Coast last year and he was the first Commonwealth Games mascot to bear an Indigenous name.

This month, Borobi joined forces with local school students participating in the 39th annual Modern Languages Teachers' Association of Queensland (MLTAQ) speech contest at Griffith University's Gold Coast campus to include the Yugambeh language in the event for the very first time. 

More than 20 students took part in the inaugural Yugambeh speech contest, sitting around a campfire setting to  recite the creation story of Yugambeh Country as told by Elder, Patricia O'Conner.

Around 1300 school students took part in the overall competition which showcases languages including Japanese, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese.

Rory O’Connor, the CEO of Yugambeh Museum, said the new annual event made the local Indigenous community proud.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to access and celebrate the Yugambeh language of this region." he said.

"Don’t worry about how good you are or aren't just give it a go."

Of the more than 250 Aboriginal languages spoken in Australia, 90 per cent are considered endangered.

Uncle Ted Williams, a Yugambeh Elder who judged the competition sad: "This is a very important step for reconciliation for our nation".

Cecilia Shultz, a Year 11 Student from Benowa State High School, said the event also showed that non-Indigenous students like herself could be involved.

"I'm incredibly proud and honoured to be setting an example for future generations hopefully this can be the foundation of learning the language for future years to come," she said.

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