If you had a few wishes over Christmas, would one of them be to have my Aboriginal language back? Thankfully, my Wiradjuri language was given that wish over 12 months ago, with a dictionary, language classes in school and TAFE and now an App available on the phone.
But what about the people of the Yorta Yorta, Barngala, Mutti Mutti, Yitha Yitha or Wonnarua nations? Surely Santa could deliver before Christmas? Well…
Did you know about the revolution happening in our Indigenous languages today?
This week, that revolution grows and before Christmas 5 more Apps are available! Yes, five other Aboriginal languages are now an App, available on the iPhone, iOS and Android.
The Apps newly developed by the Regenr8 team
Who are Regenr8?
A small but innovative Aboriginal NGO, Regenr8 (Regenerate) is Wiradjuri based & operated and it’s making waves in the revitalisation of our languages and culture. Innovative because they are using digital technology to do so.
Cheyne recently took leave to help in WA to help Western Desert communities
How? The first major product it developed was the Wiradjuri App. Through funding provided by the Wiradjuri Study Centre in Condobolin, the Wiradjuri App was an original idea to get the next generation interested in learning our language again with modern tools at hand. That tool, being the mobile phone.
An existing and extensively researched Wiradjuri dictionary by Stan Grant senior and Dr John Rudder was used by the Regenr8 to build the App. The dictionary was released in 2005 and helped to develop curriculum used by TAFE and schools to teach our language. In order for it to go to the next level and be the “Wiradjuri App”, it needed further research and importantly, a language cultural group organised locally to advise on its use, style, context and culturally safe provisions needed for its acceptance.
The Regener8 team, consisting of founder Cheyne Halloran, a Ngunnawal man and a skilled team, were advised by respected Elders and the Wiradjuri Study Centre in Condobolin. They helped Cheyne’s team to set up the parameters and cultural protocols to develop the App, which guided their consultation process and accountability to our community.
The Regenr8 purpose as written on the website at https://regenr8.org
The result is an App you can get on iOS, iTunes or Android phones today. It was the first in its kind in the world.
But that’s not the end of their story. They are developing more language Apps for other Aboriginal nations in consultation with their respective communities. Plus, Cheyne and the Regenr8 team are looking to build other cultural tools while also assisting communities to ‘get back to the future’ and their feet.
Recently, the guys took leave to travel to the Western Australia Western Desert communities to ask how they could help with the issues they are facing north of Kalgoorlie. Such communities have faced a high number of suicides in recent months and the Elders have asked for a halt to the boredom, depression, lack of self esteem and limited options faced by the youth and young adults in the Western Desert communities. So for a month, Cheyne and team travelled over 8,000kms to address this, seek interest in developing language Apps, jobs, a skilled workforce or the gaps in those skills, what the community would be interested in doing and how they could assist in making it happen.
The reluctance of the Regenr8 to explain and talk about what they do is a tribute to the humble nature of the founder, Cheyne and to this mentors on the Board of Management, Elders within the Wiradjuri nation.
To advance in the future technologies of the digital world using Apps, the team had to go ‘back to the future’. The old ways came first. The Elders consulted. Protocols adhered to. Families sharing. Community gathered. Then, it was time to teach & learn.
Through a management structure of Elders and respected community members on the Board, the Regenr8 team are well guided to expand further services to our communities, including more language tools and cultural aids in a digital form, changing the way our communities live, learn and share our culture.
So this Christmas, five nations get a present. Language Apps that are free to learn, teach and share, and another language around the corner. Thank you Regenr8.
All Apps are currently available on iOS, iPhone and Android. Check out more of what they guys do on their website https://regenr8.org