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Pilbara languages on a path to digitisation


Indigenous languages of Western Australia are on the path to digitisation with the help of an Australian Government Commonwealth Grant.

The Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre launched today a series of four immersive apps produced in the Digital Innovation Hub the Centre has established with the funding.

Designed to preserve the Pilbara region’s indigenous languages, culture and history, the apps communicate traditional stories and knowledge with a unique indigenous perspective. The app technology brings language and culture to life through authentic storytelling, original audio, supportive linguistic tools, evocative imagery, interactive features that include the ability to record yourself, and animation that makes the emu run and the dingo howl…

The launch of the new apps demonstrates the Centre’s success in establishing the Innovation Hub approved as a Commonwealth Grant in 2018. In the past 16 months the Centre has set up infrastructure, appointed a Senior Linguist, developed protocols and plans, gained an app developer license, and learnt how to use technology to communicate the indigenous world-view.

The establishment has been supported by New Zealand indigenous technology company Kiwa Digital.

Speaking at the launch of the new apps at the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages Expo in Roebourne, Centre Manager Julie Walker said:

“Our digital project is making a vital contribution to the revitalisation of Pilbara languages. The goal is to bring the expertise, knowledge and sensitivity of the elders of the Pilbara into the digital age.”

Kiwa Digital CEO Steven Renata praised the Centre on its rapid take-up of new technology:

“Pilbara languages are on a rapid path to digitization, with the Centre leading the way globally in adopting new techniques to convey unique indigenous perspectives.”

The apps are available on The App Store and Google Play by searching on WANGKA MAYA.

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