Thursday, October 12th, 2017 – Miromaa Aboriginal Language & Technology Centre
This upcoming week Cairns, QLD will buzz with Indigenous languages for the 6th bi-annual Puliima National Indigenous Languages and Technology Forum (18th-19th October 2015).
This year looks set to be bigger than ever with Indigenous people from around Australia, the Torres Strait Islands, New Zealand, Canada and Hawaii coming together to talk about their traditional languages, the work in keeping them alive and the rich diversity which exists within each and every one.
During 2017 languages have taken centre stage with this year’s national NAIDOC theme being “Our Languages Matter”. This year has been extremely important to emphasize and celebrate the importance of Australia’s original Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. These languages themselves are at the forefront of cultural identity, not just for the original peoples of these lands but of all Australia.
Just recently the Prime Minister and Minister for Indigenous Affairs announced a further $10 million over four years to protect, preserve and celebrate our Indigenous languages. The focus of this funding is to engage and consult nationally to support digital solutions and partnerships for ongoing capture and teaching of language and identify and support career pathways for language workers and linguists.
The conference is packed with practical demonstrations and workshops facilitated by local, interstate and international experts.
Presentations will cover topics such as: Language Revitalisation in Aboriginal Languages Teacher Training; Enriching and expanding the expressive possibilities of language revival; Torres Strait Traditional Languages Strategy; Evaluating digital tools for endangered languages
Estelle Miller and Lynette Ackland from the Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation – Far West Language Centre South Australia will present on “Cultural Language Technology”. Ngukurr Language Centre has been working with the University of Queensland ITEE robotics lab and the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language on a project to create Opie, a child-friendly robot. Opie is designed to enhance children’s learning from technology, by making it a social activity. Children interact with Opie via a tummy-mounted tablet which runs language games.
Of course technology will play its part as many people seek to utilize various forms of tech in all aspects within their languages. From documentation to education through to the latest apps, technology’s role is being defined. You will also hear about some of the first documentation to happen with Captain Cooks experience with the Guugu Yimithirr people of Far North Queensland recording some 150 words, one of which gave Australia nationally the word Kangaroo.
Candace Kaleimamoowahinekapu Galla from Department of Language & Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, will be travelling from Vancouver Canada to present at the forum. Ms Galla is native Hawaiian and her presentation “Working from a place of resilience: Hawaiian language, technology and the contemporary world” will showcase one of the worlds successes in language reclamation.
Daryn McKenny is manager of the Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre in Newcastle, which coordinates the forum. Daryn believes that there needs to be a wide range of approaches to both conservation and teaching because the language situation varies so much in the different parts of Australia.
“We identified ten years ago that we needed a conference which brought attention to the importance of technology to helping save and teach our languages. But still, our languages are disappearing as fast as ever, but the efforts to halt this loss are as strong as ever. We are very proud that Puliima will continue to showcase these success stories and the methods being used to continue to encourage, empower and foster the use and saving of the worlds oldest living languages” says McKenny.
An exciting addition to the conference will be the third “Australia’s Got Language Talent Contest” which aims to showcase deadly Aboriginal Australian talents performing in Aboriginal Language https://vimeo.com/136674165
The Pullman International Hotel in Cairns will provide the venue for the Puliima National Indigenous Language and Technology Forum
Miromaa Aboriginal Language & Technology Centre
Miromaa Language Centre was formed in 2003, since then their activities have grown to the point where they are involved in some manner with over 300 language activities around Australia and internationally, their support extends to supporting many International language activities as well.