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Thornbury School to Trial Aboriginal Language Program

THORNBURY Primary School students are helping revive Aboriginal language in a program set to be rolled out across the state.

Thornbury is the first primary school in Victoria to put an Aboriginal language on the curriculum, with others expected to follow next year.

Principal Karen Mazurek said prep to grade 2 students were learning Woiwurrung, the language once spoken by the Wurundjeri people, Melbourne’s traditional land owners.

“There’s a lot of interest in the program from the (Education Department’s) state language team and if it’s successful, it’s likely other schools will also offer Woiwurrung,” she said.

Koorie educator and Woiwurrung language teacher Phill Cooper said there was strong demand for an Aboriginal language at the school, which boasts the largest number of indigenous students in metropolitan Melbourne.

Mr Cooper is also teaching Woiwurrung to non-indigenous students.

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“Koorie culture is inclusive so it was important to teach all the kids (indigenous and non-indigenous), Mr Cooper said.

“The more kids have that knowledge of the language, the harder it is to lose it again.”

He said although the language was seldom spoken, the words were still there.

“Finding the pieces and putting them together is like working on a jigsaw puzzle,” Mr Cooper said.

Education Department spokeswoman Helen Stevanovich said Thornbury Primary School’s pilot had generated “significant interest from other schools”.

“The teaching of indigenous languages is an integral part of the Victorian Government’s vision for language education,” Ms Stevanovich said

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