BCE schools pioneer First Nations Languages Curriculum


​​©Brisbane Catholic Education, St Paul's School, Woodridge (2024).

FIVE Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) schools are pioneering a subject that aims to empower students to engage authentically and sensitively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. 
Since the launch of BCE’s First Nations Languages Curriculum last National Reconciliation Week, St Joseph's Tobruk Memorial School Beenleigh, St Paul's School Woodridge, St Joseph's School Murgon, and Our Lady of the Rosary School Caloundra have been at the forefront. 
The curriculum engages students from Prep to Year 10 in learning Aboriginal song, dance, art, and languages, contextualised to the Traditional language group of their school and connection to local First Nations peoples, Elders, and Groups. 
St Paul’s School Woodridge Principal Helen Boyes highlights the benefits of students learning Yugambeh language. 
“Learning Yugambeh not only improves language skills but also enhances understanding of how languages work, leading to better literacy, including in English,” Helen said. 
"Connecting Yugambeh language classes with the vibrant cultural heritage of local First Nations peoples is essential. 
"The curriculum serves as a conduit for students to deepen their comprehension and admiration for the rich tapestry of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples." 
BCE Senior Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Stair Islander Education and Gamilaraay andYuwalaraaywoman Dr Mayrah Dreise said BCE’s First Nations Languages Curriculum highlights our commitment to reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples cultures and histories. 
“The curriculum provides an opportunity for learning and reconciliation across our 146 schools,” she said. 
"The integration of First Nations languages also broadens students' knowledge and fosters respect for Traditional Custodians, promoting cultural appreciation. 
“We've observed a positive response from students towards First Nations language classes, with a genuine enjoyment in learning about the sacred sites and First Nations stories. 
"For our First Nations students, it allows them to see themselves and their culture(s) authentically represented in the classroom. 
“This fosters a stronger sense of identity and belonging, allowing them to feel heard and visible at school.” 
St Joseph's School Murgon Principal Justin McCarthy highlighted his school’s pioneering role in BCE’s First Nations Languages Curriculum.  
“Since Term 1, we have had an Indigenous Liaison Officer work alongside a Wakka Wakka language teacher,” he said. 
"The students are particularly enthusiastic about using the words for hello and goodbye.   
“We are dedicated to reconciliation and cultural education at St Joseph’s School.” 
St Mary’s Catholic College Kingaroy, St Joseph’s School North Ipswich, and St Patrick’s Primary School Nanango are also exploring the idea of introducing Aboriginal languages. Both schools are currently consulting with local Aboriginal peoples, groups, organisations, and Elders to implement the curriculum within their schools. 
A First Nations Languages in Schools Guidance Document has also been provided to help support the implementation of First Nations Languages across BCE’s 146 schools. 
To read more about BCE’s First Nations Language Curriculum click here. 
About National Reconciliation Week:  

National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.


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