Strengthening first language in education and the community; a university and community partnership case study

Year: 2021

Author: Osborne, Sam

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara languages are among a dozen or so remaining traditional Australian languages as children’s first language. These languages face enormous and increasing pressures and time is of the essence in strengthening these languages amongst young people. The University of South Australia has a 30-year history of first language instruction and Anangu teacher tertiary education. Through the APY Hub, UniSA has adopted a partnership approach to strengthen first language through a partnership with the Iwiri Aboriginal Corporation, a member-based corporation for Anangu (Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara people) who live in Adelaide to access health services and other opportunities. The partnership has a focus on producing education texts, providing a language and culture school on Saturdays, translation work and teaching language. This case study highlights the importance of respectful, reciprocal relationships, exercising the principles of ngapartji ngapartji, where universities can create venues for knowledge production and development work and access to resources, and senior knowledge holders and community members are essential participants in the process of first language and cultural engagement within universities. A commitment to teaching the next generation of knowledge holders is described through stories and visual media along with a clear vision of future actions.This presentation addresses issues relating to ethical practices, institutional challenges and opportunities, and key areas for future planning where traditional languages can flourish, even in ‘remote’ communities such as Adelaide.