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State funds new Aboriginal language teachers

State funds new Aboriginal language teachersGORDON TAFE Geelong will join others across the state offering a new nationally accredited course to support the teaching of Aboriginal languages on Country and in classrooms across Victoria.

The Victorian government allocated $2.9 million for TAFEs, including The Gordon, to establish a new Certificate IV-level course to build a team of specialist teachers to revive language on Country and in classrooms and kindergartens in the state budget.

“This new course continues to support the re-introduction of traditional languages to classrooms and supports more Aboriginal people becoming teachers,” Training and Skills and Higher Education minister Gayle Tierney said.

“The qualification does equip graduates to develop their skills and capabilities to teach their language in kindergartens and schools right across the Victoria, and it’s fitting that this should be taking place now as we embark on the United Nations official international decade of indigenous languages in 2022.”

The new cert IV course is an extension of a 2019 pilot program at Swinburne TAFE in Melbourne that delivered cert III qualifications to 13 Aboriginal students, nine of which went on to become the inaugural recipients of cert IV training as Aboriginal Language Teachers, including Wadawurrung woman Corrina Eccles.

“I put a cloak on last Friday (April 29) to graduate from the pilot course, a three-and-a-half year journey, we were the first ones to conquer it, extremely hard, the hardest thing I’ve had to study,” Ms Eccles said at the TAFE last Thursday (May 5).

“But from us doing the pilot we know it will make it much easier for others to do this.” 

Ms Eccles and her fellow graduates are now teaching First Nations language in 14 early childhood centres, five primary schools and two high schools.

“We want to be able to provide opportunities, we want to be able to grow our knowledge, to share our knowledge, because I too was a young person like you, and I had to walk in two worlds. My world of my culture and my identity that didn’t fit in my school and my outdoor activities … if only there was more places where those two lives came together,” Ms Eccles said.

“That would’ve enriched me and empowered me much more if I could have walked those two worlds together.”

The revival and preservation of language is part of the state government’s Marrung: Aboriginal Education Plan 2016-2026, promoting Koorie culture and tradition in Victoria and supporting reconciliation and social justice reforms.

“The importance of all of this cannot be underestimated,” Ms Tierney said at the graduation.

“Many Aboriginal communities are hungry to revive, teach and preserve their languages, as other communities are as well and this funding will assist in ensuring that endangered languages in Victoria are preserved and the languages of our First Nations people are embedded in our education and our society more generally.”

Article supplied by Surf Coast Times, Torquay