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Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
Language learning in Indigenous communities

HAYWARD, Ms Karan, Chief Executive Officer, Papulu Apparr-Kari Aboriginal Corporation (the Language Centre)

MORRISON, Mr Ronald, Chairperson, Papulu Apparr-Kari Aboriginal Corporation (the Language Centre)

MORRISON, Mrs Sandra, Language Centre, Papulu Apparr-Kari Aboriginal Corporation (the Language Centre)

NIXON, Mrs Judy, Cultural Officer, Papulu Apparr-Kari Aboriginal Corporation (the Language Centre)

PHILLIPS, Ms Penelope, Aboriginal Liaison Officer, Papulu Apparr-Kari Aboriginal Corporation (the Language Centre)

WILLIAMS, Mr Ross, Deputy Chairperson, Papulu Apparr-Kari Aboriginal Corporation (the Language Centre)

CHAIR: Welcome. We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land upon which we meet and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. Thank you for coming. We are greatly appreciative of the fact that you have driven such a long way. I am a Queenslander, so I know long distances, but I know you have driven for about 500 kilometres to get here, and we are greatly appreciative of the fact that you have come. I want to do a couple of formal things. These are formal proceeding of the Parliament of Australia. Everything said must be factual and honest, and it is considered a serious matter to mislead the committee—not that I am suggesting you are going to mislead the committee. but I have to get through the formalities. The hearing is open to the public and everything that is said will be in a transcript posted on our website. Before we get started, the way we do this is by asking you questions. I know you put a submission in. I invite you to make a brief introductory statement. If more than one of you would like to make an introductory statement, that would be good.

Ms Hayward : I have held the position of Chief Executive Officer, Papulu Apparr-kari Aboriginal Corporation for 15 years—a little old-timer. I am pretty lucky today. I am very privileged today because all the people I have here can actually speak and write their own language and have been founding members of the language centre, which has been around for 24 years. We originally covered 16 languages in the Barkly region but, due to funding cuts and language centres closing down, we are a dying race. We now cover a lot more areas than we did before, like Katherine. We do Kriol, which we never touched before. It is a made-up language, basically. We do from Borroloola in the north across to the Western Australian border, across to Doomadgee in Queensland. We used to go down to Barrow Creek, but now we go all the way to Aileron which is about 100 kilometres out of Alice.

CHAIR: It is a vast area you cover.

Ms Hayward : Yes. We are probably the same as everybody else—limited funding. But when people ask, that is it. As I said, we started 24 years ago. When we started we were going to develop a school which was an Indigenous school of our own. We did not get the funding for that, but the language centre itself has gone on. In the past we were unique. We were the first CDEP organisation that was a language centre and we employed up to 200 people. We now employ only five or six people. We have gone through highs and lows, but we are still producing. We were at the forefront of producing multimedia. We believe you need to hear the language to be able to speak it properly. We have always worked with the education department and we have now got roads into every university in Australia as much as possible, aiding them to encourage language to be used in the education facilities.

As you said, we have already done a submission. You have probably already read it. It was tabled last year, so we would just be repeating what it says. There are a few little statements. Our name is Papulu Apparr-kari, which means home of language, and we believe that is what we do. We are a resource centre. We are a place for people to come to build on their language and to make sure that the language is here for our next generation.

CHAIR: Karan, what do you think are the best resources that you have produced? What is the best thing you have ever done in terms of resources?

Ms Hayward : It is numerous, but I would definitely say the digital books. Many of them are here. We have also worked on the dictionaries. We develop a process, like with their environment book. It is digitalised and animated. You click on the Australia flag and you get an English version of the story. You click on the Aboriginal flag and you get whatever language it is in. What we have tried to produce is multilanguages in one book. Their environment book is done in ten languages at the moment. We are aiming for 15 by the end of this month, and that is in the pipeline at the moment. We believe they are good resources for the kids and we have actually proved that over the years. Our bilingual program used to be unbelievable, but—

CHAIR: Tell us about the benefit for the kids, Karan.

Ms Hayward : The benefit for the kids is seeing the pride come back in them. When you lose your language, you lose your identity as such. That is an important thing. We have such a big thing. Our children are growing up without knowing their language. We believe that if we bring that back we can bring back pride and encourage them to be better leaders by knowing their own language, knowing where they come from. Without language, there is no land, there is no law, there is no culture. Those all go hand in hand. It has been proven over the years that if you lose your language, you lose your identity. That is very important to us.

We believe in a process of the old teaching the young and the young teaching the younger. That is our process. It is fantastic to see the high school kids going over to the primary school and showing them. All these people have been involved in that right from the beginning. They are all elders of our community. They are all fluent speakers. They are fantastic. They have all gone to school. There are Batchelor Institute degrees. Mr and Mrs Morrison and Ms Nixon speak several languages. Most of my people speak several languages. The best thing is to see those faces light up when they are speaking their own language and you see the kids understand. We do massive, big classrooms with 30 to 40 kids. To see the smiles on their faces when they are using their own language is just the best thing in the world.

CHAIR: Would anyone else like to say anything about that?

Ms Phillips : You have really got to teach it at the primary school. We teach the high school first with our old ladies. The old ladies teach the high school students and they have got to teach preschool mob what the old ladies taught them in English and in language. In the preschool, they have got about three or four different language groups. We split them all up into each language group and the kids from the high school teach them. Even when they are teaching their little brothers or cousins they are looking at each other and laughing. The language is so important and so valuable to them with their sister and brother teaching them that language at the school. That gives them pride when they go back home and tell mum. They say, 'Look, so and so came and is teaching us language at primary school.' And the parents start getting more involved with it now like they never did before.

CHAIR: Has there been any difference in the response to language between the boys and the girls?

Ms Hayward : We break down those barriers a bit. I am not allowed to speak on some of this stuff. But, yes, basically we do. We break down that barrier. When we first started this we did it in cohort with the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation and the University of Western Sydney. That has been great because we bring teachers out and then we break down that barrier as well and the kids turn up more. We must admit, this year we have got males. In the past, it has all been young girls. This year we have young, initiated men that are now teaching at the school and coming to the primary school. Everybody wants to be involved. Three years ago, we were pushing to get people involved. Now they are lining up. Even the teachers from the Western Sydney university are lining up. They actually apply to come and teach with us. They come out to Tennant Creek for a couple of months.

Ms Nixon : Every year.

Ms Hayward : Yes, every year. We break down that barrier. We do a cross-cultural with them, which is one of the biggest things. It is Two Way Learning. Everything is Two Way Learning in our life to strengthen that language with the men and the women.

Ms Nixon : For five years.

Ms Hayward : For five years, Ms Nixon has just said. Ms Nixon is my cultural advisor and one of the most important people in our employment. We would love to employ more people like her. Mr Williams here is an ATSIC representative from years ago and has been involved in every bit of our language. He has come back to us this year because of the importance of getting language back into the schools.

Dr STONE: Thank you. I am just looking at your little booklets. Are they available for the public to buy?

Ms Hayward : Yes. It is hard to make money out of language, but we do make our money.

Dr STONE: I know a lot of non-Indigenous families would love to have these little books as part of cross-cultural learning for their children.

Ms Hayward : We sell them all over the world—Russia—

Dr STONE: I think you would; they are stunning.

Ms Hayward : We have a school in Moscow at the moment that is actually doing Indigenous language lessons.

Dr STONE: You will have to tell us how to buy them soon. They are excellent. Clearly you have had to change your way of operating since you went from 200-odd people under CDEP to just the five or so that you mentioned. Have you found that there is a growing thirst among Indigenous young people for knowledge about language? Are you observing that the kids are really wanting to have language?

Ms Hayward : Yes.

Dr STONE: As you say, this is this because of identity, but is any of it also to do with the fact that they think they might want to work in some area where employment prospects would be improved if they had traditional language—interpreting maybe or some other area?

Ms Hayward : Yes. We were at the forefront of the Northern Territory interpreter service, and we still are, even though the government has actually got their money. We were there, making sure that they got their money. It is too important for our people not to have interpreting and translating skills.

Dr STONE: Do you run courses?

Ms Hayward : We run courses, yes. We get them NAATI qualified. Everybody here except for me is interpreter trained. Mrs Nixon does most of our translating. She is fantastic in that. So are Mr Morrison and Mrs Morrison. We find that we have a lot of people wanting to come back and learn their language that was taken away. We have a lot of those sorts of calls. We have people that want to just learn a language. They do not know where they come from but they know they are Indigenous—that kind of stuff. We do not just do our own languages; if somebody comes to our door and wants to know anything on language, we will actually go that extra mile and find their language for them and get as many books as we can. You can send us a word list and we will develop a book exactly as you want. That is the beauty of having a prototype. The kids love them. My nieces and nephews just love these books. They are the best Christmas presents you can get for them. We have them in different styles and different everything. We really believe that people want to know more language. Like I said, I have worked with Mrs Nixon and Ross for 20-odd years. You must admit there are more people wanting to know language now than in the past. We have had to change our way of thinking in everything we do.

Like I said, it is hard to make money, but when we were a CDEP organisation we were successful as, and we made a lot of money. We get limited funding—you have probably heard that from everybody—and we were the first to get three-year funding, so we kind of use our own money and we have got to make money. This is how we make money. We have got to produce books; we have got to be the translators; we have got to charge. In the past, we used to do it all for free, just to get the language out there. Now we charge for it. We get paid handsomely, but I would love to employ more people. So many people come to my door and say, 'Can I get a job here?' I just do not have the money to employ them. But there are hundreds of people that could work on language at the moment if we had the resources. The kids are our new resource. We are planning for the future. We are planning that language is here forever, because, if it is not, where do we go?

Dr STONE: With the revival or sustaining of the language, you have talked about mentoring the older kids with the younger and so on, and it is all excellent. Do you find, with the renewed sense of self-worth perhaps, or strengthened sense of confidence, that those same students become more confident with standard Australian English as well?

Ms Hayward : Yes. My son is one of those people. He has a learning disability. We did a driving CD in language, to teach people how to get their licence. We are a film unit as well; we dabble in everything, whatever we can think of to make the language get across. He got his learners permit first try, and yet he cannot read and write very well. It was because it was coming up on the screen, it was repetitive, the language was there and it was being spoken to him. He got his licence, and I was amazed. I am sorry; this is my son, but I was. The kids come in the afternoon and they put the DVD on. Their parent does not have to be there repeating it, but then when grandma hears them talk, she talks more, so there is two-way learning. Definitely the schoolwork has improved. The schoolkids from last year that did our language program all graduated grade 12. That is a bonus to us.

Dr STONE: So you think it enriches the whole experience for those students—it is not just them learning their language better, or perhaps even for the first time, but it is enriching all of their learning outcomes.

Ms Hayward : Yes, they are learning both. They are learning how to spell the English word and how to speak the Indigenous word. It benefits both. That is what we need to see, because these are our leaders of tomorrow.

Dr STONE: Yes.

Mr HAASE: Yes, it is a good story. First of all, you tackled a dropping off of interest, of numbers of students involved, and now you are implying an explosion of attendance and interest. Was there a tipping point—was there an issue that occurred that changed that?

Ms Phillips : For us, sometimes family passes away or there are family problem or issues and all that, and language just lies low. Then, all of a sudden, the community picks everything back up. What they were missing out on before, they have come back to. Now they want to learn more. For that, you cannot push our people, especially the elders. They tell us what time is right. You have to talk to them and say, 'I'll be ready when you're ready.' They might say, 'Not today'. They might tell you to wait for a week, three weeks or a month and then they will come back and demand, 'Come on, I'm here now; I've got to teach you what you missed out on,' in language, or whatever they are going to teach you.

Ms Hayward : We have been doing a lot of work in language in the health area, and we have been getting that message across. We provide interpreters for the health mobs when we are talking and a lot less of our people are passing away. I do not know if we can claim that as being because of us—that might be a bit broad a statement. But the fact is that we are breaking down the barriers when they are talking about their illnesses. In the past they were just spoken to in English and they did not understand. Now, if someone's got cancer, we are there and we are discussing and bringing out ways in language to say that. So we are getting better health outcomes. The kids are coming to school maybe because one of their family has passed away and they realise the language is going. We have been really working on that language part, and we do think we have broken down some of the barriers between the health departments.

Mr HAASE: To make a connectivity between Ms Phillip's answer and yours, was there an occasion within your surrounding communities when elders made a realisation of the health benefits of interpretation into language and therefore unofficially approved participation in your services?

Ms Hayward : I think the intervention had a bit to do with this, at least the fact that we were used so much through the intervention and that they acknowledged the fact that language had to be spoken to get the messages across. Then the health department also took that on board, and the education came back from the bilingual that they got rid of. I think that might have been a turning point. It was about six or seven years ago that the turning point came, and we got inundated; we just could not keep up.

Mr HAASE: When you say the 'health department' do you mean the federal government health department?

Ms Hayward : Yes.

Mr HAASE: And they are using your services to distribute health messages?

Ms Hayward : Yes.

Mr HAASE: And you are being paid for that on a user-pays basis?

Ms Hayward : Yes.

Mr HAASE: That is in addition to normal Commonwealth funding?

Ms Hayward : Yes. And our local Aboriginal organisation, which is Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Organisation, also use us regularly. The body part book was developed for them to use to point out the parts of the body. We also do posters.

Mr HAASE: So harking back to your point previously about funding, your desire to employ more people and your inability because of cash flow to do so, on a user-pays basis and with a well-developed marketing model, maybe there is an opportunity for you with some focus on that future of funding to develop some self sufficiency—perhaps not 100 per cent—but with the increasing importance of marketers in organisations you might find that that is the case.

Ms Hayward : Yes. 10 years ago, we identified that if we were going to survive, we had to make our own money. We were not sitting back and going, 'Grants are going to come forever.' We knew that was not going to happen.

Mr HAASE: Wise woman.

Ms Hayward : So we got smart. We got smart and we started getting money in. We started earning money, didn't we? We started doing what we could. We started developing our own enterprises. I must admit, we have been cut off at the knees a lot. Every time we put applications in to do things and that, we do get cut back. But we believe we need to make our own money. We believe that and we try to do that. This year alone of our own money we have spent $136,000 that we have made. Hopefully, my grant funding will not take this on board, but we have enough funding to last three more years without funding.

Mr HAASE: We did not hear that.

CHAIR: I would like to ask Ross and Ronald as chair and deputy chair of the organisation, their perspective of it in terms of where it is happening, particularly in your capacity, but also from a man's point of view. What do you see in terms of these issues and the challenges the centre has?

Mr Williams : One of the most challenging things we have in the men's area is—as Karan was speaking about before—to get those young kids back and also get some of our adults back who have been Americanised, looking at the DVDs and the rest of it, watching the movies at cinemas and that. We are trying to change attitudes so the elderly men are starting to get them back and showing them the culture too. You become multicultural. If you are a cultural person, come along and we will teach you the ways our forefathers have taught us. We are going back. These kids are actually getting back off the streets and coming to the elders and the arts. As was pointed out by my colleagues over here the kids are coming forward now. Even the older kids, the 20 to 25 year olds. Most of them would be urbanised from their traditional lifestyle. They are coming back from the cities and from the larger centres in the Territory. They come back and really revise their own language to teach their own kids when they bring them up. I think the biggest challenge is that—I know it is a word that every public servant and organisation uses—the funding is very vital and important to keep those organisations going and to represent the people in the regions.

Karan said when we first started that we have covered quite a quite a broad area. It was bigger than Tasmania. Some of the areas are bigger than Victoria too. It is a vast land out there. Some of the places you could travel, you could travel about 1,000 to 1,500 kilometres and you have got various little communities, which in the old ATSIC and DAA days they used to call 'outstations' where landlords were established. You have to move back to your land and teach your young kids, and the rest of your family that live in the urban area, to go back and learn about your land so you can get it back. That was one of those things to claim your traditional land back. So it is very important to bring those younger generations of kids back. A lot of these outstations now are abandoned. They lack the funding within the governments. It goes back 15 or 20 years, maybe more. They abandon them. A lot of those old people are passing away and the younger kids are not learning the stories and the Dreamtime of those places. We are finally getting them back slowly.

CHAIR: Ron is nodding his head all the time, as you are going. Over to you. What is your perspective, then?

Mr Morrison : Young ones, young women and young men, had to move to other places. They have to learn to keep the language and ceremony and things like that. There used to be a bus that would take kids out—both Indigenous and non-Indigenous—to learn how to survive in the bush, how to look after them, how to find waterholes and bush tucker.

CHAIR: That is an interesting point. Non-Indigenous kids as well benefited. That is a very good point you make there. Has that been your experience, Ross? Would you agree with that?

Mr Williams : Yes, I quite agree with it, because in our area we have a lot of mining companies. It never used to happen before, years ago, that a mining company would come and sit with traditional owners and sign documentation with the elders. What is happening now is that in the submissions we put in we are actually teaching the miners and the government workers to understand us. We have said, 'We've learnt your way, and we go to schools and work with your people.' I was a public servant for 20-odd years with DAA's, then I went to ATSIC. And I was on the board with them, too. I moved around a bit. I am pretty happy that I have met a lot of experienced old people from other states. That gives me the opportunity to bring it back and encourage people. 'If you do that, you can go places.'

The miners are really working well with us. They actually get Aboriginal people who owned the traditional land to go out and do site clearance. That is very important because they are some of our sacred sites. So you do not go to certain areas. The oldest take the younger generation with them, so they can see and learn for themselves where these sites are, too. So in both ways we are passing the knowledge of the land to non-Indigenous and to our own kids, too. The elders are doing that.

Like we said before, a lot of our elders are passing away slowly. I think we have the worst kidney problems in the world in the Barkly region. I think some of our elders, and some of our young ones, too, have actually gone to dialysis machines down here. We have built one now at Tennant Creek. We are working with them, too. So people who are too afraid to go to those centres, with interpreters and so on, are encouraged to go to better themselves. That has really improved the lifestyle of a lot of those younger kids and the older generation, the elders, because they were very afraid. It is a learning curve.

CHAIR: They are really good points that both you guys have made, about ceremony, about employment, about non-Indigenous kids, about young people as well. That is really good.

Ms Hayward : Can I just clarify something. With the schools, it is non-Indigenous and Indigenous that are doing that with us.

CHAIR: That is the point Ronald was making as well.

Ms Hayward : In the classroom that we teach with the University of Western Sydney, we actually have non-Indigenous kids wanting to teach language to the other kids at the primary school. At each class at the primary school it is not only the Indigenous kids; it is everybody. So that was definitely one that I wanted to talk about.

Mr Williams : I love my sport. I grew up with sport. I would play any sports I could play. I see a lot of the kids now, the non-Indigenous kids, using some of the languages that kids use at school with their schoolmates. That is fantastic, because they want to learn off their mates. Our kids want to learn off them, too. It is a two-way thing, and it is fantastic going out to watch the juniors going out to play football and here they are singing out to each other, calling out to each other in skin names. It is unbelievable. It is good. It is good to see kids with a big smile on their face and running around. It is pretty hard nowadays; they get into trouble. But these kids are really enjoying themselves—not only our kids but the whole community's kids—Indigenous and non-Indigenous kids.

Dr STONE: Karan, when you were making your introductory remarks, you said—and I wrote it down—that you had roads into all of the unis now. You mentioned West Sydney a few times. What do you mean by 'roads into all the unis'? Do you mean in relation to their teacher training or into their—

Ms Hayward : In all aspects. I do not know if you are aware of this but we do not employ a linguist. These people here are my linguists. We believe the language is pure from us. We do use linguists. I am not knocking their education or anything like that; it is just that we have found in the past that they mix our language up. We work with James Cook University. We have Alana Garwood there, who does work for our Borroloola ladies. We work with the south eastern Queensland uni, I think it is called—

CHAIR: It is the University of Southern Queensland. It is in my electorate—Springfield as well as Toowoomba.

Ms Hayward : Yes. We work with a few people down there. We also work with the Song Room. A lot of the universities are on board with them.

Dr STONE: The song room?

Ms Hayward : The Song Room work with Barkley Regional Arts. We have our own music centre at Tennant Creek. We helped to develop it. It was a men's program to work with young men on dance and music and to develop their own styles. From that we have gone into the Song Room, where we write in our own language. We get a lot of work. For instance, we have translated a few Johnny Cash songs into languages and the work guys sing them out in the groups. It is being used. Language has to be used or it dies. So the more we can do the better. All the universities come to us. We work with anyone that comes to the Northern Territory. We work with Charles Darwin University continually, and not only in our own training. We develop numeracy and literacy training for our own workers for anything that we have. That is why we were successful as a CDP. We believed that numeracy and literacy were the first things we had to do.

Dr STONE: Can I ask about prisons. We have got a lot of Indigenous young men and older men and also Indigenous women in our prison system, particularly in Northern Australia. Do you get any calls to help out with them?

Ms Hayward : We have a prison at Tennant Creek now. We have a work camp. They come and work with us, and we do work with them. Through the elders council in Tennant Creek, which is a very important group for us, we aid them to do whatever. In the last couple of weeks, they have given us some songs to translate. They do classes after they do their work program. We aid them in doing that. A lot of them have come from Ti Tree, which is just up the road. They want their language. So we have got books in their language now so that they can actually learn. One of the prisoners that we did the mining course with—we run the mining course at the language centre in Tennant Creek—said, 'We want to learn our own language.' So we got the books and everything and now they are speaking their language again. It has all gone round the prison now. There are about 30 or 40 prisoners. They are from all over the Northern Territory.

Dr STONE: These are Indigenous prisoners who are picking up language?

Ms Hayward : They are all Indigenous. I cannot comment on the women. But when I have had women in the Alice Springs prison, they do work for me. Ms James and others did interpreting and translating and things like that in the prison for the prisoners and for me. They are still using their language. We have not got a program with the women here in Alice Springs. I think the Alice Springs IAD do that, or maybe Darryl Pearce's mob do that. But we work with the men in Tennant Creek.

CHAIR: You made the comment in your submission about interpreters and translators not always being used when they should be, and obviously the people here are all doing that type of work. Ronald or Ross, do you think there are times when interpreters should have been used and they have not been?

Mr Williams : I quite agree with that point. One of the things I have noticed at a lot of the meetings—you have government meetings sometimes and you have to keep reminding other agencies and stakeholders that do not use interpreters, 'You've got to use the interpreters.' The elderly people who are sitting down there are not understanding what you are saying in English. It is better if you have an interpreter there, sitting down beside you, a male and a female. The male always speaks to the males and the females talk. I think it is very important to have interpreters. Everything you do in life, if you want to get the other people to understand what is happening—as I said before, it gets the younger people more involved. They could be sitting out there instead of that person who is 50 or 40-odd years of age. It could be a 25-year-old or an 18-year-old sitting out there. That is a bit of a livelihood for them; it is employment.

CHAIR: Yes, employment opportunities. Just as there are footballers and not footballers and there are carpenters and not carpenters, there are interpreters and there are people who are not quite so good. Do you think the training for interpreters is adequate? What do you think in terms of their accreditation?

Ms Phillips : We need more training. It needs training. You need to be trained all the time because systems change sometimes and the languages change, and you need to adjust it to explain, because in language we have to adapt to the English and you need training all the time to be a good, qualified interpreter.

Ms Hayward : A prime example is that we trained Mrs Nixon, and translated the Northern Territory Department of Housing rental agreement—to try to get the words in that translated! It is the same with some of the other stuff that we have, the intervention stuff; that was unbelievable. Yet the message was able to get across. When you were hearing it in your own language you could understand. As Mr Williams said, as Warumungu people we like to hear things. We are like everybody else. We like to think about it, we like to understand it and then we like to give you your answer. But a lot of government departments fly in and go, 'rah, rah, rah,' and everybody is going like that around the table but nobody is being understood. Then they are expecting us all to go 'Yeah, that's fine; we'll go with that.' That does not work.

Mr HAASE: We had an example of it yesterday.

Ms Hayward : Did you?

Mr HAASE: Big time.

Ms Hayward : We need to know. It is like everything. We need to know, but if you are not getting the information you cannot be informed and you cannot make the best decision. That is what has happened to our people in the past.

CHAIR: You mentioned Kriol before. Tell us about Kriol and what is happening.

Ms Hayward : We call it a made-up language.

CHAIR: Made up—exactly.

Ms Hayward : I have a soapbox now. When I first started I was told by the old people: 'No Kriol. It's a make-up language.' It is a mixture of languages made up from Warlpiri, and from the Katharine mob up that way and from the desert mob. It is actually taking over the other languages. The languages are not as pure as they used to be. Kriol is a make-up language, so it is spoken a lot. We find it the same with the linguists that come. They mix up the language. They will put Warlmanpa words in with the Wambaya words, or they will put a Warumungu word in there, and it is not. That is not their language.

I run an age 0 to 4 reading program in Katharine for the kids. We use these little books, which are ideal for ages 0 to 4, and it also helps the mothers' and fathers' reading as well. Of necessity they wanted it in Kriol because that is the main language spoken up there. I bowed and we did it in Kriol. So we are adapting; I am adapting. Kriol is definitely a made-up language. It was not a registered language in the beginning and you will not find it on maps from 19 whatever, but you will find it in the last 23 years.

CHAIR: What is the response of the elders to Kriol? Ross, Ronald, Judy, Penelope?

Ms Hayward : It is the young ones that speak it.

Mr Williams : It is the majority of the young people. As I said earlier before, they are leaving their traditional land, they live in an urban environment now and that has changed them. They do not speak their own language so they have mixed their languages. That is what is happening at the moment. That is why we need to strengthen our language so the kids can identify where they actually come from. If you do not know your language, you do not know your country and you do not know your Dreaming. You have got to follow lines and you keep in line with the older people. We are trying hard. It is very hard to get change in kids' lives. We were all once kids. It is very hard to change until you get a bit older, I suppose, when they are 18 and 20. It is about getting them back and interested again and getting the kids to focus on their elders.

We get a lot of people coming back and getting back into the ceremonies, where you did not have it before. I think in 1994, the language centre supported the first Warumungu dancers. I had not seen the dancers since I was about 12 or 14. We formed a group which was the Warumungu Pujali Group. It was all Warumungu people and all our kids that were actually brought up in urban areas came back and the old people taught them how to dance and we toured Western Australia stopping at each place and each centre. We stopped at Katherine. We did not stay in motels; we went and stayed in a community with the people in Katherine—Kalano. Then we asked the traditional owners if we could come and stay at Gidgee Gorge and practice the dance there and speak in our language. They said, 'We will give you permission.' We went to each language centre. This is one in Fitzroy. They were amazed to see our dancers come up painted up the way the old people do. I was there. I just organised the seating arrangement and kept the area very clear for the dancers to come out. You have got kids running around. But all of a sudden you see the blokes come out, painted up with their head gear and these kids sort of popped down and sat down. They did not realise we dressed up like that. That was a good learning curve for our kids. All those young blokes that went on that trip have gone onto better things and they are helping the younger generation now to get involved with the dancing. That is fantastic.

CHAIR: To take that further, what Ronald was saying before, language leads to ceremony, leads to better things to use your words.

Mr Williams : Yes. That is correct.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. We appreciate it. We will just have a break for a couple of minutes before the next people come.

Dr STONE: Did Sandra, Penelope or Judy want to add anything there?

Ms Phillips : I did the workshop a couple of months ago and when we go back, I am going to do an apprentice and a master chef training and we are going to try and go back and—

Dr STONE: Bush tucker cooking—

Ms Phillips : Yes. We are trying to go back and do that so we are able to speak our language with the kids—not English, talk to them in languages. If we have not got a word, we have to make up a word or put a word that is similar to it—

Dr STONE: Okay.

Ms Phillips : To keep our language strong and striving.

Ms Hayward : Competition is good. We compete against Western Australia. Whenever the Pilbara mob come out with something—they copied us with some of this stuff—we now look at what they have done. And Ms Nixon will tell you, we are very competitive against each other. 'Did you see what they did'? 'Oh we've got to do that', and that is good for us. All us languages have got to work together because each one of us is important. One is not more important than the other and there are so many that have passed away.

Mr HAASE: I have only one little thing. I am going to take all this back to the west with me. I am just wondering: do you know whether the west languages groups are accepting and supporting Kriol?

Ms Hayward : The ones we talk to, yes. They are involved with us through the interpreter service. The Northern Territory interpreter service also goes across the Western Australia, and the Western Australian model is very strong. We sometimes, when I am feeling like we cannot go on, which happens sometimes, look at them and say, 'Look what they are doing!' and we revamp. They have got linguists. We cannot afford the linguists on the money we get. They are expensive. We believe that they are working with Kriol but they are trying to preserve their language as much as possible. Their language is very pure.

Mr HAASE: Did you do the big colouring-in book for the sniffing story?

Ms Hayward : No, we did not do that one.

Mr HAASE: It was a good book, hey?

Ms Hayward : Yes. We need to, but we never had a problem with petrol sniffing until just recently.

Mr HAASE: You need to resurrect the book.

Mr Williams : On behalf of the organisation, I would like to thank you for giving us an opportunity to speak with us and listen to us.

CHAIR: We are sorry we could not find the time to come to you. We thank you very much for driving all this way. Your evidence has been absolutely marvellous, fantastic, this afternoon. We really appreciate all of you coming down. It has been greatly appreciated. You made your points very, very well. Thank you.

Dr STONE: We need to know where to be able to buy a book. Do we look up your website or something?

Ms Hayward : These are being donated to you guys to take back to the Senate or wherever you want to take them.

CHAIR: The House of Representatives.

Ms Hayward : We do not mind. Penny spent a long time collecting all of this.

Dr STONE: They might be in the Parliamentary Library.

CHAIR: We will put them in the Parliamentary Library. They made it all the way to Canberra.

Ms Hayward : For once, I have got to Canberra.

CHAIR: Thank you very much.

Proceedings suspended from 14 : 11 to 14 : 15