South Australian Governor visits Language Centre PDF Print E-mail

From Denise Karpany
Project Office/Field Worker
South Australian FATSIL Delegate

ON Friday the 26th May 2000, the Governor of South Australia, His Excellency Sir Eric Neal AC CVO and Lady Neal made a special visit to YaityaWarraWodli Language Centre Incorporated. The Honourable Dorothy Kotz, minister for Aboriginal Affairs, also attended the ceremony.This visit was organised as part of the celebrations for Reconciliation Week where a handing over ceremony of Language Sticks took place. Geoff Roberts arranged with artist Frank Jungulya Laughton to make the Language Sticks for the first National Sorry Day. Frank is a Daly River man, part of the Stolen Generation who grew up in Tasmania, and now lives in Port Lincoln.There are about 55 Language Sticks in all, which have been on display in South Australia's Parliament House since 1998.

The ceremony commenced at 9am when three Elders representing three different language groups met the Minister, Dorothy Kotz, at Parliament House to escort the Language Sticks to Yaitya Warra Wodli. The Elders were Aunty Mona Tur (Antikirinya nation), Aunty Lola Ritchie (Wirungu nation) and Uncle Peter Parker (Wongkanguru nation).

On arrival at the language centre, a Welcome Dahce was performed by Tal-Kin-Jeri Dance Group to welcome the Language Sticks to their new home, as well as the Elders, Sir Eric and Lady Neal, and Mrs Kotz.

The official party were introduced to dignitaries and invited guests, then proceeded to enter the language centre.As they entered, the Tal-Kin-Jeri Dance Group performed more dances then led the procession to where the handing over ceremony took place.

Harry Stewart, Manager of Yaitya Warra Wodli, was the Master of Ceremonies. He spoke about the language centre and what the ceremony was all about. He then introduced Sir Eric Neal who gave a speech about the importance of reviving and regaining the indigenous languages of South Australia. He said, he was proud and honoured to be able to be a part of this very special ceremony and on such a significant day. Harry then introduced Dorothy Kotz, who is the Minister for Aboriginal affairs. She spoke about the many indigenous language s that were here in South Australia prior to colonisation, and how sad it was that so many of them have been lost. She said that it is so very important to have la language centre here in South Australia, and paid tribute to the staff and the Board of Management for the work that has been dome for the retrieval, revival and preservation of the Aboriginal languages from this state.

The Governor then presented the Language Sticks to Mrs. Mona Tur, who was representing the Board of Management of Yaitya WarraWodli Language Centre. Denise Karpany, the Project Officer /Field Worker for Yaitya Warra Wodli then held the coolamon containing the Language Sticks while Mona, Lola and Peter placed them in the display case. His Excellency placed the Kaurna Language Stick in the display case.

Harry made presentations of gifts to Sir Eric and Lady Neal and Mrs Kotz. Mona made a speech in the Antikirinya about the importance and significance of indigenous languages to indigenous people. After she spoke in language, she translated what she said into English.

Harry thanked everybody for coming and being a part of this special ceremony. Tal-Kin-Jeri Dance Group then performed a couple of more dances prior to the departure of the official guests. After they left, the remaining guests stayed at the Language Centre for morning tea.

The Language Sticks will be on permanent display at the Language Centre for all to visit and see. There were community people and other dignitaries who were present for the handing over ceremony.