Indigenous Languages Research Discovery Workshop.

This year the Indigenous Languages Research Discovery workshop was held in mid-February to coincide with International Mother Tongue Day giving participants the opportunity to attend our special languages forum Minya Birran.

The week started with twenty language workers from communities across Queensland joining us at State Library, South Bank. Yarrabah, Woorabinda and Torres Straits were some of the communities represented with approximately 20 different language groups between them.  

Visitor Information Services staff prior to the workshop assisted kuril dhagun staff in locating and accessing relevant language materials from the many different State Library collections.

Day two was an on-site visit to the Queensland Police Museum to discover language content that may have been gathered through their historic Tracker and Native Mounted Police Records. We were welcomed by Georgia Grier who gave a great presentation and overview of the records held in the museum.

The focus of day three was to engage the group with Indigenous Language Technologies used in the revitalisation and maintenance of Indigenous languages. Guest speakers Ben Foley and Kathrin Kaiser from University of Queensland Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of language (CoEDL) shared their work in technology and resource development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

Our second guest speaker was Jo Booth from Queensland Narrating Services (QNS) who have been involved in the success of some of the languages projects activities at State Library. QNS recognise that the use of audio formats is vital, in recognition of the importance of the oral transmission of historical and cultural knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander people. QNS offer a unique, cost effective and professional alternative to expensive recording studios and supply an easy to follow training package to assist in developing skills needed to narrate. A recent example of their work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages include Our Words, Our Stories coordinated through Logan City Council Libraries; Robert Ah Wing one of the workshop participants spoke of his involvement in the project.

Thursday was an opportunity for the group to consolidate their research and activity and other learnings from the week and to discuss exploring the next steps in their language journeys. The wrap up included a discussion on findings from their research as well as exploring the future direction for language revival, particularly in light of the recent UN announcement of a Decade of Indigenous Languages commencing in 2022.

The workshop ended on February 21 - International Mother Language Day and saw participants attending State Library’s Minya Birran: What now for Indigenous Languages? Forum. The forum was a day-long celebration of the year that was “International Year of Indigenous Languages”. It attracted a wide audience of educators, professionals, community and creative workers. Sessions included hands-on-skills, sharing language knowledge and how to use State Library collection and resources to complement key note speakers and panel sessions. The day ended with entertainment from some very talented and gifted language performers such as Deline Briscoe, Emily Wurramara, Troy Jungali Brady, Cygnet Repu, Boondall State School Choir and cultural educator Uncle Brian Whap.

It was a great week and State Library looks forward to hosting their next Research Discovery Workshop.


Rose Warsow

Indigenous Languages Project Support Officer, kuril dhagun


State Library Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages webpages

State Library of Queensland Interactive Languages Map


Spoken: Celebrating Queensland languages exhibition.

Jarjum Stories exhibition.



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