Senior Australian of the Year: Racing against Time

Laurie Baymarrwangga Senior Australian of the Year keeping up the fight for Indigenous Languages.

Baymarrwangga holding the Senior Australian of the Year trophy at her Homeland on Murrungga Island

95 year old Laurie Baymarrwangga is not slowing down but working harder on a trilingual full colour encyclopaedia/dictionary for children, recording the local knowledge of the seas around the Crocodile Islands. Baymarrwangga’s Indigenous Languages Support (ILS) Yan-nhangu/Dhuwal/English dictionary/encyclopedia publishing project brings together her language Yan-nhangu (fifteen speakers) and Dhuwal/a an endangered living language with some 7000 speakers, with English to form a resource for trilingual education. Children speaking any of these languages can learn to speak the others and the priceless knowledge of generations of intimate coexistence with the seas of the Crocodile Islands, with on-line back up.

This project proposes to provide this learning resource to every one of the 4,500 primary schools in Australia. It will make a real difference in raising awareness and enthusiasm for our dying indigenous languages. This is a gift for the future with profound cultural, linguistic and ethical significance; designed for primary aged children, this full colour three language encyclopaedia/dictionary projects a fascinating and culturally inclusive vision of the future for all Australians.

Our indigenous languages are the oldest languages in the world and their sustainability depends upon complex cultural knowledge linked to country. Their intergenerational transmission is assured on the remote homelands where country life promotes their use but the homelands are under threat.

Life on the Homelands provides vital services to the Australian nation in heritage preservation, environmental management services, and better health and education outcomes than larger communities (for a fraction of the cost), not to mention passing on the jewels of our national cultural heritage and arts. This project shows the positive meaning and merit of homelands life and its value to all Australians.
Laurie Baymarrwangga is trying to fix the problems of her people and her languages, without resources and little support. She continues to strive to pass on the knowledge, language and law that sustain a healthy environment and the wisdom of the oldest living culture in the world. Baymarrwangga is doing this for the children of the Homelands, and for all of us. To learn more go to:

Big Boss Race against Time
See Laurie Baymarrwangga’s extraordinary life story on
ABC (message stick)
Sunday the 13th of May at 1.30pm
Want to help? – Write a brief letter of support?
Send to Bentley James Po Box 42393 casuarina NT 0810

Any response will be greatly appreciated and you will help one person really change the world !!!


One thought on “Senior Australian of the Year: Racing against Time

  1. We are indebited to this great lady whose knowledge is invaluable to this country, and its inhabitants. An understanding of language passes on both information and culture. The project needs all the support and encouragement it can get and we encourge Simon Crean to give it all the support possible.

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