ALNF returns to Tennant Creek

Posted on: 20 November 2019, 8:12pm

In early November, members of the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) had the pleasure of re-visiting Tennant Creek, bringing with them the award-winning Living First Language Platform (LFLP).

Returning to the community with the LFLP was fitting given that its inception was inspired by a conversation in 2004 between ALNF Co-Founder Mary-Ruth Mendel, and Warumungu Elder, Mrs Judy Nixon Nakkamarra.
At the time, the two women had agreed that it was of the utmost importance to develop resources and strategies so that future generations would be able to speak, read and write in both their First Language of Warumungu, as well as in English.
From this initial encounter, ALNF worked alongside Warumungu speakers, and later, with First Language speakers from other First Nations communities across Australia, to develop resources that would eventually become the LFLP.
This highly accessible multi-media platform aims to preserve and revitalise First Languages, empowering speakers with best-practice tools to help teach language and literacy skills in their mother tongues as well as to make bridges for English literacy development.
LFLP has since received international recognition, including winning the MIT Solve Challenge in New York and the South by Southwest (SXSW) Innovation Awards in Austin, Texas.
Building on these successes, upon return to Tennant Creek the ALNF team will continue to work with Warumungu speakers and community members to further refine the LFLP, facilitated by staff from the Papulu Apparr-Kari (PAK) Aboriginal Corporation.
Established in 2005, the relationship between PAK and ALNF continues to be integral to the success of the LFLP.
PAK provides employment and training pathways for Indigenous people, particularly in the sectors of media and technology, and thus is a perfect fit as a collaborator of ALNF.
PAK CEO Karan Hayward has closely followed the development of ALNF’s LFLP, including their recent wins abroad.
“To have ALNF return with the Platform, and to bring all of this international success to our community makes us feel proud of what we have achieved together,” said Ms Hayward.
“This is an invaluable resource that will ensure that First Languages are passed down for generations to come.”
Warumungu speaker Rosemary Plummer was a key contributor in the workshops of the early 2000s and when shown the LFLP during ALNF’s most recent visit was pleased to see the results.
She was proud to see her hard work had not gone unnoticed.
“I am happy. We did this. A lot of hard work many, many years ago and it’s starting to come out,” she said.
“I’m happy that we didn’t do it for nothing or for waste.
“I am very happy that it’s going to be used for our future children.”
In remote communities across Australia, almost two-thirds of Indigenous children speak some words of an Indigenous language, and frequently, children only encounter English upon entering the formal schooling system.
For example, the 2016 census showed that nationally 321 people reported speaking Warumungu at home, of which 286 people resided in Tennant Creek.
Domestic and international research has resoundingly proven that children learn best in the language that they feel the most comfortable speaking.
Through this project, ALNF and PAK aim to support community-driven and sustainable language and literacy learning in Warumungu.
For more information, contact PAK on 08 89623270.

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