Bringing Wik Mungkan to Rockhampton Classrooms

Intergenerational transmission is an internationally recognised measure of a language’s strength or endangerment. Many languages of the Cape York Peninsula are endangered, as parents increasingly lack the fluency to speak their ancestral languages with their children.

In response, Pama Language Centre partnered with the Cape York Leaders Program (CYLP) and Cape York Employment (CYE) to develop a pilot language program with The Rockhampton Grammar School. The program aims to develop a high-quality and effective First Nations language curriculum for the Wik Mungkan language of Aurukun.

Key to the program’s design were RGS students and CYLP scholars, Keziah Yunkaporta and Shakaya Wolmby. They collaborated alongside a dedicated team of linguists as well as Wik Mungkan language experts Phyllis and Eloise Yunkaporta, who joined the program as Community Projects participants through CYE.

Phyllis and Eloise’s involvement was integral to the program, while Keziah and Shakaya ensured the program was tailored to the needs of future students.

“It’s important because it deepens the knowledge I have and when I am older I can teach young kids,” Shakaya said. “It helps keep culture alive.”

The workshops throughout the year led to the creation of a range of educational materials, including online Wik Mungkan comprehension quizzes, video clips, Wik Mungkan songs and translations. At the end of the year, a presentation was made to the Principal and staff with positive discussions around plans for future development in 2024.

By empowering students like Keziah and Shakaya to maintain connection with their culture through their ancestral language, this innovative pilot program offers a promising model for integrating Indigenous languages into educational curricula. It shows the potential of language revival efforts to empower Indigenous communities and to sustain their cultural


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