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Since June we have been working with DFAT to support language advocates and artists to visit a range of Australian consulates around the world. Here are some of the stories from this shared project…

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Joy Bonner (Butchulla) and Leonora Adidi (Kalaw Kawaw Ya) represented the Yamani Choral Group on their visit to Taiwan. The women sang at the World Conference for Woman’s Shelter; they met with school and community groups and attended dinner with the embassy delegates from across the pacific.

Leonora commented, "Our journey to Taiwan was enormously rewarding culturally, artistically and linguistically. Almost unexpectedly we were moved on many occasions by the stories of the Indigenous people of Taiwan. We shared songs, stories and language words and experiences. We became family. We were touched by their generosity and hospitality."

Joy reflected, "Learning from each other and respecting how we as community members journey on many pathways, however, connect back to the most important part of how we live, breathe and understand; the importance of how ancient indigenous languages portray who we are, what we stand for and how we deliver an understanding by engaging and educating others past, present and future through respect and protocols"

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Joy Bonner and Leonora Adidi in Taiwan.

"Friendships and linkages have been forged and hopefully will endure and yield good outcomes for both sides." Leonora said. "I have been overwhelmed. Everyone has been so generous and welcoming. Thank you to the Taiwanese people, DFAT and First Languages Australia. This has been a significant professional development experience."

Theresa Sainty (palawa kani) travelled to Nauru where she met with school groups and spent time with Nauruans looking for help in working on their languages. I was told it was the first time an Australian Indigenous person that visited them.

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"Everywhere I went I was made to feel welcome", Theresa reported. "It was an enlightening experience for me as I hadn't thought previously about who the people on that Island were and their history and culture."

"Even though they have their own government, their situation has strong similarities to ours. They are a small nation, with little economy, but are working to share their island, language and culture with the world."

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Theresa Sainty visits Nauru

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Phillemon Mosby (Kulkalgau Ya) travelled to Palau to attend the 2019 Global Cooperation and Training Framework, International Austronesian Language Revitalisation Forum. Phillemon's visit also marked the first invitation to an Australian to participate in the Austronesian Forum Executive Council Meeting. His Torres Strait representation "illustrated the common Melanesian heritage and linguistic, cultural links with the other island representatives and was an opportunity to explore how future participation will be of value and how we can contribute."

Phillemon reflected, "It was inspiring to learn about how other Austronesian people are working in partnership with their Governments to revitalise their traditional language. The key message I took away from this International forum was 'speak the language as often as possible at home'."

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