- Traditional languages program to be rolled out across WA jails State-wide in Western Australian first
- Courses will be created in partnership with local Elders, leaders and Aboriginal Language Centres
- Program aims to reconnect or strengthen Aboriginal people's connection with culture
Aboriginal languages will be taught at all prisons throughout Western Australia under a new language programs plan initiated by Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan.
The new Aboriginal Languages in Custody program was launched today at Boronia Pre-release Centre for Women where up to 30 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal prisoners will be taught Noongar, the official language of the Indigenous people of the south-west of Western Australia.
The classes will be held over two, five-week programs.
The program will be created and delivered by the Perth-based Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation. The course includes basic conversational Aboriginal words and phrases.
The program will be rolled out to Hakea Prison, Bunbury Regional Prison and the rest of the State's jails in four stages from late 2020 to the first quarter of 2021.
Languages taught will depend on the regional location of the prison. Programs will be delivered in partnership with each prison site and the local community, and be culturally endorsed by Aboriginal language centres.
The Department of Justice, Corrective Services already provides 15 hours a week of Noongar language classes at Bandyup Women's Prison, Casuarina Prison and Wooroloo Prison Farm.
The new languages program follows the new initiative to record of the skin groups of Aboriginal prisoners in the prison database to help with more appropriate placement of prisoners.
Comments attributed to Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan:
"There is an intrinsic link between language and culture so this new program aims to help Aboriginal prisoners reconnect with their own people, practices and beliefs.
"Research shows that teaching Aboriginal languages leads to positive personal and community development outcomes, including good health and wellbeing, self-respect, empowerment, cultural identity, self-satisfaction and belonging.
"The Aboriginal Languages in Custody program aligns with the McGowan Government's PPP approach of Participation, Partnership, and Promotion of Culture to improve the way we engage with Aboriginal people in a respectful and culturally sensitive way.
"The program will be offered to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to encourage people from all walks of life to gain a better understanding of the importance of Aboriginal language and culture."
Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
"Language provides an identity that connects people to culture, embodies traditions and passes on knowledge.
"In Australia, Aboriginal languages were the first spoken yet they are amongst some of the most endangered in the world.
"This new program will help preserve the languages of one of the oldest living cultures on the planet.
"Western Australians are increasingly embracing the reality that our State has always been and always will be Aboriginal land and we are a richer and a more just society because of it."
Corrective Services Minister's office - 6552 6300
Aboriginal Affairs Minister's office - 6552 5900