Reviving first languages in the early years


​​​​​​​Community leaders and Elders in Toowoomba and Cunnamulla co-wrote the Let’s yarn about kindy campaign song with deep respect to all Elders and Traditional Custodians.

The song was written to help revive the first languages in these communities and continue to pass them on to our younger generations.

Two verses were created: one representing the communities in Toowoomba and the other representing Cunnamulla.

The Toowoomba verse, Boo Row Ar (Footprints), transcript, ​was written and performed in the language of the Jarowair, Giabul and Western Wakka Wakka peoples.

The Cunnamulla verse, ​ Gundoos (Children), ​transcript​​, is in the language of the Kooma, Kullilli, Kunja, Budjiti, Badjari, Murrawarri and Mardigan peoples.

Shandell Washington (pictured), who was born in Cunnamulla and now lives in Toowoomba, sings both verses in first languages, and her daughter, Annabell, sings the English verse.

Shandell said she was honoured to be a part of this journey of bringing language back for our little ones in a campaign that promotes the importance of early education.

‘The journey through that was so amazing,’ Shandell said.

‘It was all about cultures walking together and being on this land.

‘We are all different tribes but we all walk on the same land, and we all belong to this land.

‘We’re coming together and being as one and leading these footprints for our little ones to come in behind us and stand proud for the future.

‘We want children to come and get an education and learn more about themselves so they can eventually take over from us and be the next leaders.’

Cunnamulla Elder Aunty Carol had the pleasure of watching the kindy children perform the song with their own actions. She said it was a great way to bring language back for the children.

‘I think it’s marvellous to put it into song,’ Aunty Carol said.

‘The kids don’t know much language, it’s all died out with the old people.

‘If they bring it back in before it really dies out, it’s a chance for my grandchildren to learn what’s left.

‘It’s a start for these little ones.’

Aunty Carol said she didn’t have the same opportunities to learn about culture and language in the way children do today.

‘I never learnt any language because we were never around the old people,’ she said.

‘Culture is very important. We didn’t have it in our days but the way they’re doing it nowadays is great.’

Read more of what Elders had to say when they had a yarn about kindy​.​​

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Last updated 30 August 2023