“It’s something they can’t learn at school. We need to pass it on, and not let this thing die.”
For Aunty Val, passing on Aboriginal languages to the next generation is of the utmost importance
Students from Bowral High School will be learning traditional Aboriginal languages as part of a program run at the Aboriginal Centre in Mittagong.
Bowral is the first school to take part in the program run by Aunty Val, Aunty Annie and Cinnamon.
Students will take part in four workshops during the term where they will learn the Gundungurra, Dharug and D’harawal languages.
Aunty Val said it was important to pass the languages on to all children so they did not die out.
The majority of students from Bowral were Aboriginal but there was one non-Aboriginal student who was interested in Aboriginal language and culture.
“It’s important that they know the languages,” Aunty Val said.
“It’s not going to get out there if we don’t teach it to all kids.”
Students will learn about the different languages, animals, artifacts and Dreamtime stories as part of the classes.
Aunty Val said Aboriginal languages were about more than just words- it was about gestures, body language and even how people looked at each other.
“You understood what the elders said to you even when they didn’t speak.”
Aunty Val said there there were no swear words in any Aboriginal language and there was also no word for thank you.
“If I do something for you, it’s taken as a commitment that you do something for me.”
The classes will help youth in the shire embrace their culture.
“We’re teaching kids to be proud of their culture. They do have a language and they are the traditional owners of this land,” Aunty Val said.
“Aboriginal language is such a beautiful language [and] we live in a very special area.”
Bowral High teacher Megan Kaufline said the Aboriginal languages were fairly new to most of the students.
The program at Bowral High aims to connect children to their culture through contact with the community.
Last term students took part in the Traditional Song and Dance program and in term 4, Ms Kaufline said they hoped to complete a mural with Peter Swain.
She said it was also important for the students to be comfortable coming to their cultural centre where they could access support, services and recreation.
Aunty Val said other schools interested in the program could contact Cinnamon from the Yamanda Aboriginal Association at Yamanda@live.com.au.