National honour for Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage program staff  

[by Rebecca Akers]

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Image: supplied

The staff behind Charles Sturt University’s Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage have received a national honour from the Patji-Dawes Group.

The staff were recently announced as the winners of the 2021 Patji-Dawes Language Teaching Group Award, which recognises outstanding achievements in teaching languages other than English.

Highly respected Wiradjuri Elder, Uncle Dr Stan Grant Snr, AM, and Course Co-ordinator Professor Susan Green in the Charles Sturt School of Indigenous Australian Studies, oversee the graduate certificate course and were among those recognised.

The course introduces students to the Wiradjuri language and aims to help preserve the language for generations to come. It is the only university course of its kind offered in Australia.

Professor Green said the award is a significant achievement that not only reflects the excellence of the program and the relationship between the Wagga Wagga Wiradjuri community and Charles Sturt University, but also Uncle Stan Snr’s language custodianship.

“I would like to extend my congratulations to the graduate certificate teaching team and in particular, to Uncle Stan Grant, Snr,” Professor Green said.

“I am fortunate to be able to work on the Graduate Certificate as part of the team, teaching Wiradjuri language and working beside and at the direction of Uncle Stan Grant, whose language custodianship and long-standing relationship with Charles Sturt University have helped achieve this outcome.

“Now I have the honour of working with others to ensure that Wiradjuri language and culture reclaims it rightful place and Wiradjuri people are strong once again.”

The staff received the honour after Wiradjuri woman and course alumna and teacher Ms Elaine Lomas nominated the team.

In her nomination, Ms Lomas said, “The Charles Sturt University Language teachers are inspiring and effective because, like me, they have been renewed by the power of Wiradjuri language to change how you see yourself and the world around you.

“I am now oriented by a Wiradjuri compass. My life is being transformed and healed (bagaraybang) through my language.”

Professor Green, who is also a graduate of the course, thanked Ms Lomas for her nomination and said she is proud the course is having such a positive impact on those who complete it.

“I thought that I had my life and work mapped out and knew where I was heading,” she said.

“The course completely changed life for me and my family. It is the best thing I ever did for myself.

“Everyone who does the course goes through a transformation personally and, for many, professionally as well.”

The Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage was developed by working closely with the Wiradjuri Council of Elders and community members.

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