Ngumby jodi! Our project is the Dharawal Language Book & Gift Pack. With the help of our chairman, a Yuin man with community links to Dharawal Country, we have written a Dharawal picture dictionary that children can colour in.
The pictures depict actual Dharawal rock art and illustrate the words being defined. These books are gifted to every First Nations kindergarten student in the Sutherland Shire (one per family) at special school ceremonies where families are invited to attend. The books are packaged in cotton bags with the Aboriginal, the Torres Strait Islander, and the Australian flags, a First Nations language map, a pack of coloured pencils and a notebook, and a copy of Young Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe.
This simple gift of language and culture builds self-esteem and community connection. Students feel a sense of pride when they are gifted with the pack at the special ceremony and that pride grows when they are invited to share the contents of the book with their classrooms and their families. It's a small step toward cultural mental health, but a valuable one none-the-less. The ceremonies, sponsored by the schools, are also valuable as they build community between First Nations families, many of whom had not connected with others in their school system previously.
Funded by Sydney (November 2022)