CALL

Centre for Australian Languages and Linguistics

Media Release: Community-run Language School classroom opening on Central Australian homeland  

Bunnings Warehouse Alice Springs will donate equipment and labor to build a classroom on Aboriginal homeland Boomerang Bore to support the Pertame (Southern Arrernte) language school this Saturday the 26th of June.   

Bunnings and the Pertame community will build and launch the classroom with a community BBQ, and fun activities for the children, like native seed jewellery making, T-shirt screen printing and painting a mural for the classroom sign. The classroom will be officially opened by Pertame Elders, with a performance from the Pertame children’s choir.  

 The Pertame community invites media out to Boomerang Bore homeland from 11am on Saturday the 26th of June to capture the story of this community event and classroom build.   

Pertame is a severely endangered language from the country south of Alice Springs, around the Finke and Huge Rivers. The Pertame School is a community-led language program working with Pertame Elders to pass their language and cultural knowledge down to the next generation. Since 2017, the Pertame School has grown to include on-country camps, school holiday programs, Bradshaw Primary classes, adult community classes and a Master-Apprentice program.  The Pertame School runs as a project through the Centre for Australian Languages and Linguistics (CALL) within Batchelor Institute. 

 Australia is currently in a state of crisis. According to the AIATSIS 2020 National Indigenous Language Survey (NILS), of the 159 Indigenous languages still in use today, only 12 are considered relatively strong and all are under threat1. Urgent action is required to rapidly revive intergenerational transmission of Indigenous languages while the fluent Elders are still alive.  

“There are currently less than 10 Elder fluent speakers of Pertame. Without action, Pertame language will be lost within the next generation. Pertame is an ancient and rich language, carrying 60,000+ years of history, heritage, knowledge of country and a unique perspective of the world. Speaking language has enduring benefits on the mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing of Aboriginal people, including increasing school attendance, self-esteem, cultural pride and community connection in Indigenous children” Vanessa Farrelly, Pertame Project Officer at the Batchelor Institute. 

“It’s important for the kids to learn their Pertame language to keep their identity strong. It’s just me now, I’m one of the only Pertame speakers left in our family. That’s why I like to teach the kids so they can know their language and keep it going”. Christobel Swan, Pertame Elder.  

Bunnings Warehouse has generously donated resources required to construct the first Pertame School classroom, to give Pertame children a space to learn their language on their homelands.  

“Having a permanent space to teach the children Pertame will benefit our program. We can have more family visiting the homeland. Having the natural environment there helps teach the kids language, we can teach them the words for the trees, hills and creeks.” - Leeanne Swan, Pertame apprentice teacher   

  “Learning language helps the kids connect to country. Most Aboriginal people are taught in the classroom environment in town. But our kids need to go out bush and reconnect to the country and land. When I go out bush and I hear language, I can understand it better. When you go out to the country, your head feels clearer, and you can understand and talk better. The ancestors can hear you talking, and hear the kids learning Pertame. You feel them around you, they are proud of the kids who are learning in their country” - Auriel Swan, Pertame apprentice teacher    

“I like going out bush to learn. We can walk around, and go exploring. I don’t like being inside for too long” - Madison Swan, 12 years old, Pertame student 

“It’s good to have a classroom on the homelands because it’s better to learn language when you’re out on country. That’s where the language came from. And it’s important that we are teaching the kids now because they are going to grow up to be the next generation of Pertame speakers and teachers” - Shania Armstrong, 18 years old, Pertame apprentice teacher 

The Pertame Project is funded by the Fouress Foundation, the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal, Seventh Generation Fund and First Languages Australia.  

 

More information, see: https://callprojects.org.au/projects/pertame 

 

To arrange interviews with Pertame Elders and teachers, or visit to Boomerang Bore Homelands (120km South of Alice Springs) please contact  

Vanessa Farrelly on 0421 478 262 or vanessa.farrelly@batchelor.edu.au 

 

https://www.arts.gov.au/what-we-do/indigenous-arts-and-languages/national-indigenous-languages-report