First Languages Australia is working in a number of ways to support and mentor Australia’s bright young language ‘champions’.
The Young Champions program was established to encourage, promote and mentor our next generation of language workers. Though this program, First Languages Australia invites young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to participate in language mentoring activities.
The program began in 2013 when First Languages Australia and the Ministry for the Arts invited a group of ten young language champions, nominated from around Australia, to meet and work with experienced language advocates. This meeting established the foundations for a network of young language workers around the country supporting each other to achieve their community language goals.
Since then, First Languages Australia has called for nominations from young ‘champions’ to attend and participate in facilitated mentoring at regional meetings, as opportunities arise. Such events have included the Puliima Languages and Technology Forum, Kani Waiburra, Queensland’s State Languages Meeting, WANALA conferences and events, and the inaugural Indigenous Languages Conference held in collaboration with the 12th Pacific Arts Festival.
A call was made for Expressions of Interest from young ‘champions’ who want to participate in an internship with a language centre. Language centres will offer a one-week placement to a young champion, during which the language worker will be given hands-on experience and mentoring in different aspects of the language centre’s work.
First Languages Australia has a strong commitment to fostering the engagement and enthusiasm of our next generation of language leaders.
The Young Champions program has helped me grow in so many ways to reach my language aspirations.
Annalee Pope, Wakka Wakka
The forum was invaluable in strengthening our understanding of the immense body of work that is being conducted across the country in the realm of Indigenous languages and culture.
Sally Baisden, Yugambeh
Photograph: Young Champions at Puliima 2017. Left to right - Sally Bisden, Abigail carter, Annalee Pope, Angelina Joshua, Corey Theatre, Meyalah Blackman, Maritza Roberts, Jason O’’Neil, Alwyn Ross, Bruce Waia. Photographer: Katherine Soutar courtesy of Puliima Language and Technology Forum.