Waranwarin Early Learning Centre making strides in teaching Dharawal language
The Sector > Provider > General News > Waranwarin Early Learning Centre making strides in teaching Dharawal language

Waranwarin Early Learning Centre making strides in teaching Dharawal language

by Freya Lucas

August 17, 2022

Waranwarin Early Learning Centre, on Dharawal Country in Minto, New South Wales, is a First Nations community-controlled service that delivers long day care (LDC) and before and after school care (BASC), and participates in the Ninganah No More program to teach the Dharawal language to children.


Centre Manager, and proud Ngunnawal and Gomeroi woman, Jodie Bell, recently spoke with the New South Wales Department of Education, sharing the ways in which the service is embedding language in educational programs, and the significant role this has in strengthening children’s identity and culture.


“There was a gap for me and many of our families because not all of us in the Campbelltown area are from Dharawal Country, we’re visitors,” she said.


“It’s a privilege to be part of the Ninganah No More program so language can develop on the Country that we’re on.”


Weekly Dharawal language lessons are delivered by the Gujaga Foundation, with Dharawal woman and Language Educator Sophie Youngberry leading the children through activities and games in language to grow their vocabulary.


“Teaching language to the wider community is not only important to us as Dharawal people for maintaining our strong connection to culture, language and Country, but also because if we don’t share our language, it will be lost,” she said.


“Coming out to centres in Campbelltown through the Ninganah No More program has been a massive privilege because they are on Dharawal Country.”


The relationship between the Gujaga Foundation and the service “is massive,” Ms Bell said, “because we are not the local language holders. We have to have those relationships with people from the Country so we can continue language.” 


“What that does for our mob, children and families is strengthen identity and connection to the Land. The most important thing is that culture is strong and that we, as Aboriginal people, are proud,” she added.


Waranwarin educators Alinta Pencheff-Scott and Mustafa Al Mathaji also contribute to this cultural richness, leading daily yarning circles to build trusting relationships with the children, and encourage responsive and meaningful interactions which support elements of Quality Area 5.


“We have strong connections here. The children are so confident and brave to share their emotions in day-to-day life,” Mr Al Mathaji said.


“I have built a family [at Waranwarin] through my relationships with staff members and the children, and have learned a lot from everyone’s different identities.”


Learn more about Waranwarin Early Learning Centre, and for more information about the Ninganah No More program, see here

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