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Putting protocols into practice | Community, Language, Project, Members, Centre, Would, Communities, Involved | FATSILC, Fed. Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Languages and Culture
Putting protocols into practice PDF Print E-mail
Below is a set of examples of successful language projects and publications. The communities involved in
them believe that these projects illustrate how consultants and communities can work together well.
Below is a set of examples of successful language projects and publications. The communities involved in them believe that these projects illustrate how consultants and communities can work together well.
Consultation at work PDF Print E-mail

A university research team came to work with our community on traditional land management techniques in the local area. The research team followed all the right protocols. They contacted the community through a community person, introduced themselves and their project plans. They asked if they could attend one of our Language meetings in order to meet community members. They went back to the university and then arranged for a community person to be their main point of contact with the community. The community person was employed by the research team to distribute information and talk to community members about various aspects of the project in advance of each visit by the research team. In this way people in the community knew what was going on ahead of each visit by the researchers. At the end of the project, when the researchers were ready to publish, they asked people what they wanted to happen with the information that had been collected and gave the community many possible options for what to do with the material and which forms to publish it in. One choice even included not making it available outside the community to the general public. In the end, it was published and community members all received copies.

A technique for consultation PDF Print E-mail

The ‘Nominal Group Technique’ was found to be a successful method for maximising community involvement in the development of our school policy statement. This statement was discussed in conjunction with the entire community. School staff and all community members sat down outdoors and talked about the future of the school and policy directions, using a set of discussion questions. Every answer given by every person to every question was recorded in whichever language each person felt most comfortable speaking. People could also choose not to respond to any of the questions. We had two scribes, who were bilingual, and recorded everything that was said. The recorded answers were then used as the basis for the school policy statement, using the ideas of the majority of the responses to each question. This technique took a lot of time but it distributed speaking opportunities evenly and minimised the dominance some voices may have had, if the discussion had been a general one and in English only. At the end of the day, everyone felt satisfied that they had had their say.

Protecting publications PDF Print E-mail

The Kimberley Language Resource Centre has been involved in producing a wide variety of language resources, in both printed and electronic form. Ideas for all language projects go through the language centre committee. It is the committee, not the language centre staff, which makes the ultimate decision about a project going ahead. KLRC has contracted people with particular skills for specific projects, for the life of the project. The centre works on the basic assumption that, in order to be successful, any project needs the commitment factor from the community. The KLRC is an organisation which responds to community requests. The way the centre works is by responding to and supporting community requests, suggestions and initiatives. The project idea and materials comes from a community and the language centre requires them to identify a group of people within the community to drive the project. The language centre’s role is to provide the technical support (eg language analysis, producing publications) to develop the best possible product at the end of the day, but ownership and commitment come from the community members. Sometimes the reverse situation arises, when external researchers have an idea for a project which they would like to undertake in a community. In these cases the KLRC directs them to a community which might be interested in the suggested idea/project. However, it is up to the community to decide whether or not to become involved.

Meetings that work PDF Print E-mail

We had a wonderful Language meeting in 1998. People are still talking, years later, about how good it was. The main reasons it was successful were that it was organised by Aboriginal people and everyone was welcomed regardless of their qualifications; the main criteria was that they had a passion for their language.

School success PDF Print E-mail

One of the schools I work for has a programmed meeting with all qualified staff and language teachers every Thursday afternoon, where they discuss how it’s going, programme for following lessons, make resources etc. This works really well, and an interesting spin off has been that the language teachers have become much more confident in suggesting activities, and much more creative in designing resources.

Community control PDF Print E-mail

The main reason for the success of the Gumbaynggir Dictionary project was that it was the community, in particular the old people, who approached a linguist. It was the community which had the idea and initiated the project. Throughout the whole project, the linguist provided technical advice and the community picked up a lot of skills along the way. Many community members had input and were involved in all aspects of the publication. It was not a case of the linguist doing the work in isolation. Community members did research, collected written and oral sources, entered data, were involved in the analysis of the language data, made decisions about which items would be included and how the dictionary would be published. The result is a language resource which is useful to the whole community as well as useful in an academic context.

Skills and training for young people PDF Print E-mail

The Computer Culture project addresses the concerns raised by elders and other leaders of Cape York. The project facilitates:

  1. preserving our languages and cultures
  2. strengthening our identity
  3. encouraging our young people in the importance of education
  4. being proud of who we are
  5. managing our lands appropriately, according to our laws and culture.

Computer Culture is getting families engaged in education through cultural transmission using digital technology. This not only involves recording/documenting biographies, languages, stories and special places but also using our young local indigenous people, helping them to acquire the skills and training in multimedia and IT to enable them to work in a school environment with children and the wider indigenous community.

Working together PDF Print E-mail

The Gooniyandi Dictionary Project is an example of a truly community generated and owned project. The project was initiated at an orthography workshop in 1999, and has just recently reached a final draft stage. The involvement of one Gooniyandi speaker in particular has been crucial to the development of the dictionary. Over the years, three different linguists have worked in close partnership with her. The goal was to maintain a balance between linguistic accuracy and community ownership. The speaker has been well as writing many of them. She also directed the overall development process, drawing feedback through community workshops which she ran with the linguists. The final draft of the dictionary is a functional one, which can be accessed by anyone, and does not require formal linguistic training for its use.

Telling their own story PDF Print E-mail

There are a number of publications by Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre that are notable, but the one which has received most recognition on a wider level is that of Ngarla Songs by Alexander Brown and Brian Geytenbeek. It was one of the three short-listed nominations for the 2004 WA Premier’s Award in Literature for Poetry. It is a significant book in terms the beauty of its traditional style of poetry and its Indigenous historical perspective of the early twentieth century. The two people who worked on it did so in their own time and of their own motivation. Wangka Maya assisted only with editing, layout and finding a publisher who would distribute the book nationally (Fremantle Arts Centre Press). The two authors saw all drafts throughout the publication process. They made all of the decisions at every step, including which pictures would be used, who the artist would be, what would go on the cover, right through to the historical accuracy of the details in the drawings. Every aspect was under their control. They are very happy with the product.

A CD of the songs did not accompany this book and this reflects the authors’ wishes – if people don’t want something to happen, it shouldn’t happen. As it turns out, the songs are now being recorded as a follow-up. The authors have trust in the process and the time is now right for this to happen.

Creating relevant resources PDF Print E-mail

In establishing a local language program, when consulting with communities who wish to revive language but are unsure of how to go about it:

I have found that using language materials which were created in the classroom as a reference point for communities to see how Indigenous languages can be used, as a very successful strategy. Videos, language readers, CD-ROMs in a local language, exercise books and advertisements identifying local community members in the pictures.