In 2019 the Jervis Bay school (JBS) board, along with local community members and staff, came to the decision to teach a community language other than English. As a result, the decision was made to implement the local Aboriginal dhurga language that was traditionally used on the East Coast of NSW. Selected staff members participated in a two-day workshop with Patricia Ellis and joined in partnership with local schools and the wider community to start the beginnings of the Jervis Bay school local Aboriginal dhurga Language Program.
In 2020, we have begun to teach the foundations of the language to all students from Preschool to year 6, including classroom teachers. Some words were already being used by students in everyday conversation such as mirigaan and djunnga. To date, JBS students have been singing in language, created a language video about their bodies, published their own family books (family histories), illustrated for local Aboriginal authors and most importantly, been exposed to a differentiated curriculum which includes the dhurga language in everyday learning. Our students will publish and illustrate their own series of dhurga language books in the near future.
We are working towards having our language program delivered in the context of a team building model with every class having a 30min lesson per week which will be reinforced during the week by classroom teachers. All aspects of the dhurga Aboriginal Language Program are linked to the outcomes in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), National Quality Standards (NQS) and the K-6 Australian curriculum.
Walawaani njindiwan - Welcome everyone! - mirigaan (dog) - djunnga (octopus).