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Aboriginal language hub to be supported

ABORIGINAL LANGUAGE HUB TO BE SUPPORTED BY NEW ZEALAND EXPERTISE

Technology innovator Kiwa Digital has secured a breakthrough collaboration with an Aboriginal language centre in Australia, leading the way in using technology to communicate the importance, resilience and richness of indigenous languages.

Kiwa Digital joined today with the Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre in Western Australia to announce plans for the Centre to become a Digital Innovation Hub.

The establishment of the technology hub is made possible by a $200,000 Commonwealth Grant, just approved by Australia’s Minister for the Arts Senator Mitch Fifield, that will set the Centre up to create innovative digital resources to support its language revitalisation and reclamation work.

There are serious concerns about the health of all of the Pilbara languages. Of the 31 languages traditionally used in the Pilbara only three remain fluently spoken, the others are either critically or severely endangered, some with as few as 10 fluent speakers left, most elderly, placing them at great risk of being lost. This urgency has sparked efforts to preserve the languages and make them more accessible to younger generations.

Plans approved under the grant funding involve,
- setting up technology infrastructure, including licensing Kiwa’s publishing software and accessing other portals;
- skills training for staff, volunteers and the community;
- development of an initial series of interactive language apps;
- and by mid 2019 the launch of the Centre’s own Digital Innovation Hub that will go on to develop many more resources that use technology to support learning in an accessible and culturally sensitive manner.

“The goal is to bring the expertise, knowledge and sensitivity of the elders of the Pilbara into the digital age” says Julie Walker Manager of the Centre.

“This will ensure cultural continuity, where our young people remain strong in retaining their Aboriginal language, culture and history.”

The establishment of the technology hub will be supported by Kiwa over two years. In the first phase, Kiwa staff will travel to South Hedland in October to meet Centre staff and learn more about their work recording and fostering Pilbara languages and culture; and then again in January 2019 to set-up, train, and fully support staff and volunteers working on the project.

“We congratulate Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre for this bold move into future learning and commend the Australian Government for supporting it,” said Steven Renata, CEO of Kiwa Digital.

“Around the world groups like Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre are putting huge effort into preserving languages. This is paying off and we are now at a crucial stage in terms of their preservation, with technology the key to success.”

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