Language Research Discovery Workshop 2017

Language Research Discovery Workshop 2017

The week started with participants from all around Queensland gathering at South Bank for the annual Language Research Discovery workshop. We welcomed people from Cairns, Yarrabah, Mackay Woorabinda, Gayndah Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.

The aim of the workshop is to build upon and extend previous research workshops and enhance the research skills and knowledge of community language workers. This year we included visits to the University of Queensland – Fryer Library to explore language materials and collections that are unique to the university such as the Flint Papers.


The Flint Papers are written documents compiled and collected by the late Elwyn Flint, most of them as part of a long-term research project he carried out in the 1960s known as the Queensland Speech Survey. Flint’s interest in language variation took him all over Queensland and included languages spoken by Aboriginal people around the state and Torres Strait Islands. Some of the participants expressed that being able to access the papers and recordings will be a great help in assisting them in the conservation of their languages.

The following day we spent a few hours at the Queensland State Archives (QSA) in Runcorn exploring their collections.  QSA is the custodian of the largest and most significant documentary heritage collection in Queensland. The Queensland Government is one of the custodians of historical information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.It was agreed that the group could easily have spent the entire day researching the collections at QSA.

On our return to SLQ the group explored and researched collections relating to their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language interest. We were fortunate to have two very experienced reference librarians to assist us with the research.

The week ended with discussions around consolidating and sharing research activities with their community, the future of language, and the next step in their journey. Some of the most memorable moments throughout the week was the discovery of information and documents revealing previously unknown information that related personally to a participant. In addition to researching unique language materials, from SLQ, Fryer Library- UQ and  QSA the week was a great opportunity to network and share ideas around language revival across Queensland. I think these workshops are very important in the revival and maintenance of language and feel very lucky to be involved.

Rose Warsow, Indigenous Languages

State Library of Queensland