School-Community Activities for NAIDOC Week 2017

2017 National NAIDOC Logo.

State Library has received a steady number of requests for ideas and resources relating to Indigenous languages for the upcoming NAIDOC Week. While the Indigenous Languages webpages are a good starting point, there is also a range of resources available for schools and community groups to celebrate the theme of “Our Languages Matter“.

Butchulla Wurru (Butchulla Girl).

There are a number of virtual books featuring audio from several Aboriginal languages, including Butchulla, Gamilaraay, Gudjal, Gunggari and Yugambeh. Students can listen to the story and practise saying the words.

Duungidjawu wordlist.

Wordlists have been compiled from the State Library collections on a range of everyday themes, including animals, numbers, greetings and parts of the body. These lists include a guide to pronunciation and can be used for action games or rhymes such as ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes‘, ‘hokey pokey‘  and counting games.  The animal wordlists can be used for creating  flashcards or matching activities.

Australian Aboriginal words in English, J499.15 AUS.

Older students can explore how Aboriginal words have been incorporated into Australian English usage and investigate the origins of Indigenous placenames in their local community.

Kin Island, JUV A823.4 PIT

One of the core elaborations under the Australian Curriculum: English is the study of Indigenous literature – State Library collections cover a range of narratives by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers. ‘Tags’ within the collection identify these items for students as well as indicating those materials that are more suited for teacher reference.

Ideas for school-communities resource guide.

In addition to the above resources, school-communities can also implement some practical ideas for languages, including:

  • Guest speakers from the local community – language speakers, Elders and community members sharing their language journey
  • Record/document language speakers from the local community
  • Build up word lists for common/everyday things (e.g. family names, body parts, plants, animals, placenames, etc.)
  • Create a community dictionary for the local language/s
  • Record/document language songs, dance, and stories relating to the local community
  • Learn greetings/farewells in the local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language
  • Promote a ‘language word of the week’ for use at school and in the community
  • Dual signage/labels in the school-community – English and the local Indigenous language
  • Incorporate language activities into key events/displays, e.g. NAIDOC & Reconciliation Week
  • Schools, Kindergartens and Play Groups learning ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ in their local language

These suggested activities and other resources can be found on the State Library Indigenous languages webpages where a resource guide can be downloaded. kuril dhagun also has resources and programs to celebrate Indigenous cultures and histories, including school and group visits at the State Library.

Uncle Ernie Grant – the importance of language.

The theme “Our languages matter” highlights the importance of language to Queensland’s Indigenous communities – the New Media Toolkit features language workers such as Uncle Ernie Grant talking about their work in preserving and maintaining language in their communities. Contact your local Indigenous Language Centre or Indigenous Knowledge Centre to find out more about the local languages and their language activities.

Roth – Guugu Yimidhirr numbers.

NAIDOC Week is a time for schools and communities to celebrate the rich diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. This year’s theme provides a great opportunity to explore Indigenous languages and engage in activities that raise awareness and understanding of the traditional languages of Queensland. Schools and community groups are encouraged to avail themselves of items from the State Library collections for NAIDOC Week 2017!


Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, Queensland Memory.

SLQ Indigenous Languages webpages

State Library of Queensland Indigenous Languages and New Media Toolkit


Resources and Further Reading

Edwards, R. (Ed) (2001) Dictionary of Torres Strait languages. Rams Skull Press: Sydney. Q 499.1503 RAY

Helon, G. (1994) The English-Goreng Goreng-English dictionary. Gurang Land Council: Bundaberg. G 499.15 1994

Lawrie, M. (1970) Myths and legends of the Torres Strait. Q 398.2099438 MYT

Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders-in-Council Aboriginal Corporation (2011) Jandai language dictionary: a dictionary of language spoken on Stradbroke and Moreton Islands based on words remembered by all Elders and recorded by interested visitors to our shores. HKT 499.153 JAN

Patz, E. (2002) A grammar of the Kuku Yalanji language of north Queensland. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. J 499.15 PAT

Roth, W. E. (1898-1903) “Reports to the Commissioner of Police and others, on Queensland aboriginal peoples 1898-1903.” FILM 0714

Sutton, P. (ed) (1974) Languages of Cape York: papers presented to the Linguistic Symposium, Part B, held in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Biennial General Meeting, May,1974. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies: Canberra. G 499.15 1976

Terrill, A. (2002) Dharumbal: the language of Rockhampton, Australia. Pacific Linguistics 525. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. J 499.15 TER

Thancoupie (2007) Thanakupi’s guide to language and culture: a Thaynakwith dictionary. Q 305.899 THA

Watson, F. J. (1944) “Vocabularies of four representative tribes of South Eastern Queensland”; supplement to the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (Queensland), No. 34, Vol XLVIII. REFJ 499.15 wat



Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) – Australian Curriculum

AUSTLANG – Australia’s Indigenous Languages Database

Cape Treasures – animated stories from Cape York

kuril dhagun

Official NAIDOC website

Our Languages – Indigenous languages portal

Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives

ReTold – a re-telling of stories and songs from Myths and Legends of the Torres Strait

Say G’day in an Indigenous Language

Stories Under Tagai – Stories from the Torres Strait

Virtual Books – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island stories

Yugambeh Museum – language resources, including Language App