Wiradjuri language program underway at CSU

Tuesday 4 Feb 2014
An Aboriginal man arrested while speaking Wiradjuri to his young grandson in country NSW last century has been described as the 'real force' behind a new university course in the Indigenous language.
The grandson and now Wiradjuri Elder Dr Stan Grant, AM, yesterday told the first group of students in the Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage that the Charles Sturt University (CSU) program would not have happened but for the foresight of his maternal grandfather, Wilfred Johnson.
During the first day of the week-long residential school for the students at CSU in Wagga Wagga, 73-year-old Dr Grant said his grandfather only spoke Wiradjuri to him while they were in the bush after his arrest and overnight imprisonment.
He told the 18 CSU students that his grandfather spoke seven different Aboriginal languages but taught him Wiradjuri, insisting it would be important to the future of the young Stan.
With Dr John Rudder, Dr Grant went on to compile the first Wiradjuri-English dictionary. Now in its 2nd edition, the dictionary is one of the key resources in the new Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage.
Associate Professor Ros Brennan-Kemmis, AM, from the CSU Faculty of Education said the Wiradjuri language program has been in the planning for five years. Associate Professor Brennan-Kemmis is also an adjunct member of the University's Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE).
"Stan's advice and remarkable knowledge of the Wiradjuri language and culture and his generosity has been a wonderful encounter for Charles Sturt University," she said.
One of the students, Ms Letetia Harris from central west NSW, has previously completed a Certificate III in Wiradjuri Language at TAFE NSW.
"The postgraduate course is an opportunity to learn more about the Wiradjuri nation and become more fluent in the Indigenous language," Ms Harris said.
She described the opportunity to learn through Dr Grant as one she could not pass up. Ms Harris also speaks Wiradjuri with her young son at home.
Offered by distance education, the one and a half year program consists of four subjects: Wiradjuri language; Wiradjuri culture and heritage; Indigenous nation building; and a work placement in the Wiradjuri community.
The students have been told that the course has been deliberately designed to contribute to nation building and add value to the Wiradjuri people.
In December 2013, CSU awarded Dr Grant an Honorary Doctorate of Letters for his work in the recovery of the Wiradjuri language. Read more in CSU News here.


Media contact: Fiona Halloran, (02) 6933 2207

Media Note:
Wiradjuri Elder Dr Stan Grant, AM and Associate Professor Ros Brennan-Kemmis, AM, from CSU will be available for interview at CSU in Wagga Wagga on Wednesday 5 February. Students will attend an intensive Wiradjuri language class from 9am to 12noon with a break at about 10.30am. Contact CSU Media.