In NSW it is compulsory for all students to complete 100 hours of another language in their studies.
At Young High School the language being taught is Wiradjuri. They were the first High School in NSW to introduce this language back in 2014 as a mandatory language taught to all students. This is the language that has been spoken in the Young area by the Wiradjuri people for over forty thousand years before European settlement. The Wiradjuri are the largest Aboriginal group in New South Wales. “The area was known as “the land of the three rivers”, the Wambool later known as the Macquarie, the Kalare later known as the Lachlan and the Murrumbidgee or Murranbidgeri. Wiradjuri country extends from Coonabarabran in the north, straddling the Great Dividing Range down to the Murray River and out to western NSW.”
By learning the language, students have been able to learn more about Aboriginal culture and gain a greater understanding of beliefs and the importance of “Wiradjuri Country”. All students are able to learn more about the history of Aboriginal people within the Young area. This course has also enabled many students to learn more about their own Aboriginal ancestors and has sparked an interest in tracing their family history. More and more students are identifying as Aboriginal as a result to the introduction of Wiradjuri language at Young High School. This year students are also opting to choose Wiradjuri as an elective in year 8.
Learning this language is providing a connection between Aboriginal and Non Aboriginal students. Head of Aboriginal Education and Languages at Young High School, Rita Karaminas says “the whole faculty at the school is very passionate about what they are teaching, in fact the language and Aboriginal Studies faculty are all studying for a Graduate Certificate of Wiradjuri Culture and Language at Charles Sturt University. There were key people who helped get this language program started back in 2014, Principal at the time Andrew Turvey, Aunty Enid Clarke ( Aboriginal Land Council), Aunty Cheryl Fensom (Aboriginal Education Consultative Group), Harry Lambshead and Letitia Harris (Wiradjuri Community Teachers ), Audrey Ward (who taught the language in the first year), Aaron Ellis (teacher in 2017) and of course our Principal Keith Duran who has supported the program from the very beginning and provided opportunities for all to share and embrace a culture that is older than the Pyramids of Egypt.