Bonnyrigg students bringing language back to life

Bonnyrigg Public School students are bringing the Aboriginal Darug language back to life in their classrooms. Linda Doherty reports.

A student and a woman standing in front of an artwork. A student and a woman standing in front of an artwork.
Image: Year 6 student and Aboriginal Ambassador Bruce Carroll with Aboriginal Education Officer Judy Anderson.

The 300 students and preschoolers at Bonnyrigg Public School have spent a year immersed in a literacy project to revitalise the local Darug language.

The result is six books written and illustrated by students covering basic Darug language vocabulary including numbers, body parts, country, family members, tools and animals.

The books, ‘Bayala, Ngarala, Tiatila - Let’s Talk, Let’s Listen, Let’s Learn’, integrate Darug language into classroom teaching and support teachers to deliver the new K-10 Aboriginal Languages syllabus introduced this year in NSW schools.

It’s the latest achievement of Bonnyrigg Kids Write, a school-wide initiative fostering literacy and cultural appreciation.

Students from Kindergarten to Year 6 collaborated with teachers and Aboriginal Education Officers, Judy Anderson and her daughter, Kate Hair, to produce written works in the Darug language.

Year 6 student Bruce Carroll, Aboriginal Ambassador at Bonnyrigg Public School, said his role was to guide and support the 50 Aboriginal students at the school.

“I’m proud of the work that we have created with Mrs Anderson and Miss Kate, being able to share my language with other students, to build an understanding of and respect for my culture.”

Assistant principal Nathan Davis said the school aspired “to share the joy of writing and the significance of the Darug language beyond our community”.

“Through this program, we don't just teach writing; we cultivate a sense of pride, belonging, and cultural understanding among our students and beyond,” he said.

“We want to instil a sense of pride among our students to give them the belief that they can do anything and reach any goal they aspire to.”

‘Bayala, Ngarala, Tiatila’ was launched at a school assembly in May attended by Aboriginal Elders, parents, school staff and students.

Bonnyrigg Public School’s Aboriginal dance group, Marrabang Waggagee, sang and performed the Darug song, 'Warimi Ngallawah Mittigar'.

“This song was used as inspiration for the books as it translates to ‘Hello, come sit, friend; let's talk, let's listen, let's learn’,” Mr Davis said.

The books will be gifted to 20 public schools in south-western Sydney, providing access to 12,000 students.

The Darug language books were supported with funding from St George Community Housing and St Johns Park Bowling Club.

Students sitting on a stage holding artworks. Students sitting on a stage holding artworks.
Image: Bonnyrigg Public School students display their Darug words and artwork at the launch of the language books.
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