Please support me to produce and distribute this tri-lingual Atlas and Dictionary for the children

At 97 Laurie Baymarrwangga saw the arrival of the first missionaries, the bombing of Milingimbi, started an island homeland, a school, a ranger program, a turtle sanctuary, saved her language, created ‘language nests’ and a trilingual dictionary and is still not giving up. The 2012 Senior Australian of the Year now wants to provide a trilingual Yan-nhangu dictionary to children for free.

Laurie Baymarrwangga has been working on a trilingual Yan-nhangu dictionary project entitled The Yan-nhangu Atlas and Illustrated Dictionary of the Crocodile Islands to support homelands and bilingual language education. 1n 1993 there were only 300 of her words documented now she has recorded some four thousand containing the local knowledge of uncounted generations. Learning local language, aside from the positive health outcomes and psychological resilience attending bilingualism, promotes the intergenerational transmission of local knowledge to a new generation. This dictionary brings together two Yolngu languages, Yan-nhangu and Dhuwal/a (7000 speakers) with English, as a learning resource to fill the vacuum left by removal of Bilingual education. Baymarrwangga plans to give this beautiful full colour dictionary to all Yolngu children, their schools and homelands throughout the region as a gift before Christmas 2013.

Laurie’s concern for her country’s vibrant linguistic and customary heritage generated a family of interrelated projects designed to support language, livelihoods and homelands. These initiative aim to skill and employ people on country, follow traditional law, and protect the linguistic, cultural and biological diversity of the Islands. Her initiative to nurture local diversity resonates with the global need to find a sustainable future.  Her work is about practical engagement with livelihoods activity on country and includes a Ranger Program. In 2011 this initiative won her the NT innovation ‘Life Time Achievement Award’ for services to country.

The Ranger Program she started with her own money was formally launched in 2010, after a decade of struggle. In 2012 it won the Ministers award for Outstanding Team Achievement in the NT Ranger Awards. The Crocodile Islands Rangers now protect more than 10,000km2 of sea country with 250km2 of registered sacred sites. Caring for some of the last breeding and nesting places of many endangered species including a 1000km2 turtle sanctuary. The Rangers are working to improve economic, social and cultural wellbeing by providing meaningful employment and education through dedicated language and cultural programs. These programs are set to manage, conserve and enhance the natural marine resources and traditional ecological knowledge living inside local languages.

‘Big Boss’ as she is affectionately known says ‘Homelands are at the heart of our country’. Knowing country depends upon complex cultural relationships linked to living on homelands, and provides vital services to the Australian nation in heritage preservation, environmental management services and biodiversity.  What’s more homelands provide better health and education outcomes, not to mention the jewels of our national cultural heritage and arts. They are the sites for transfer of the oldest living traditions, deep cultural knowledge and globally rare Indigenous languages. These relationships are assured on the homelands where positive engagement with country life promotes their vitality but they are under serious threat. At 97 she persists to struggle against forced assimilation and the destruction of indigenous languages in an effort to save her culture, country and a diverse inheritance for all our futures.

Please help us support her.

A Portrait of Kindness

PAINTING VIRTUE,Image

A gentle sea breeze touches the tamarind trees of Milingimbi where Laurie Baymarrwangga is sitting in the dappled shade on the beach of her mother’s country. The ninety six year old Senior Australian of the Year 2012 is weaving as she is being painted by Melbourne artist Gillian Warden. Gillian spent many days with Laurie Baymarrwangga studying the changing island light and said, ‘the art of portraiture is to portray a special quality of the person’.  ‘I named her portrait Virtue because of the kindness and generosity of Laurie Baymarrwangga, someone so wise who shows us the way ’.

Laurie’s concern for her country’s vibrant linguistic and customary heritage generated a family of interrelated projects under the Crocodile Islands Initiative. Designed to support language, livelihoods and homelands the initiative aims to skill and employ people on country, follow traditional law, and protect the linguistic, cultural and biological diversity of the Islands. The initiative includes a Ranger Program, a Trilingual Dictionary and support for homelands residence. In 2011 this initiative won her the NT innovation ‘Life Time Achievement Award’  for services to country.

The Ranger Program she started with her own money was formally launched in 2010, after a decade of struggle. The Crocodile Islands Rangers now protect more than 10,000km2 of sea country with 250km2 of registered sacred sites. Caring for some of the last breeding and nesting places of many endangered species they have created a 1000km2 turtle sanctuary. The Rangers are working to improve economic, social and cultural wellbeing by providing meaningful employment and education through dedicated language and cultural programs. Programs are set to manage, conserve and protect the natural marine resources and the priceless traditional ecological knowledge living inside Yan-nhangu language.

For the last twenty years Laurie Baymarrwangga has been working on a trilingual Yan-nhangu dictionary project to support language education. Aside from the positive health outcomes and psychological resilience attending bilingualism it promotes a locally controlled mechanism to enrich the intergenerational transmission of local knowledge to a new generation of natural resource managers. This dictionary brings together two Yolngu languages, Yan-nhangu and Dhuwal/a (6000 speakers) with English to form a resource for education on the homelands. She plans to give the full colour dictionary free to Yolngu children, schools and homelands throughout the region before Christmas 2013.

Laurie Baymarrwangga says ‘Homelands are at the heart of knowing our country’. This knowing depends upon complex cultural knowledge linked to country. Homelands provide vital services to the Australian nation in heritage preservation, environmental management services, and better health and education outcomes, not to mention the jewels of our national cultural heritage and arts. This relationship is assured on the homelands where positive engagement with country life promotes their vitality but homelands are under threat.

The portrait ‘virtue’ captures something of Laurie Baymarrwangga. She says to resist assimilation we must ennoble the hearts of those who humiliate us. Perhaps Baymarrwangga is showing us the virtue of gentle kindness in her struggle to save her kin and country, her culture and language.

Wheel2Wheel meets Big Boss at Murrungga

NAILSMA and the Crocodile Islands feature in Wheel2Wheel adventure series on SBS – Sunday 24 February at 2.30 pm

Bringing together his desire for adventure and philanthropy, Morgan Parker embarked on the 25,000 km Wheel2Wheel motorbike adventure across 10 countries raising awareness for one important charitable organisation in each country – in Australia he chose to promote the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance Ltd (NAILSMA).

Graeme Sawyer, Joe Morrison, Morgan ParkerMorgan Parker, a successful corporate executive based in Hong Kong, took 125 days to reach Brisbane, his birthplace. He rode his motorbike through China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Timor-Leste before arriving back home in Australia where he received a warm welcome by Darwin’s Lord Mayor, met with NAILSMA CEO Joe Morrison and visited the remote Crocodile Islands off the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land coast.

‘We feel extremely lucky, but honored to be one of the 10 charitable organisations portrayed in the Wheel2Wheel series and acknowledge individuals like Morgan who support our important work here in Australia,’ said Joe Morrison, CEO of NAILSMA.

‘The Wheel2Wheel expedition is a great idea to raise awareness for the work of these not-for-profit organisations’, said Mr Morrison, ‘and I think that all of the organisations featured deserve all the support they can get.’

Mr Morrison explained that NAILSMA has been working with Indigenous land and sea management groups across northern Australia for a decade, striving to find practical solutions to support Indigenous people manage their country for all future generations.

‘To achieve environmental, economic, social and cultural advancement in Australia we need to embrace Indigenous aspirations and concerns, support traditional knowledge and acknowledge the inherent cultural values and responsibilities relating to land and waters,’ said Mr Morrison.

During his visit to the beautiful CrocLaurie Baymarrwangaodile Islands, Morgan Parker got some firsthand information on Indigenous culture and how Indigenous people have been managing their country for millennia.

‘Meeting and talking with Indigenous land managers on Crocodile Island and learning from them about their lives is an unforgettable experience,’ said Morgan Parker, ‘and especially having the opportunity to meet the remarkable Laurie Baymarrwanga, Senior Australian of the Year 2012, who is a beacon of light for her people’s language and culture.’

‘I am delighted to share the experience of my life-changing charity adventure and hope it inspires others to support the amazing organisations featured in the series,’ said Mr Parker.

A special one hour feature showing Morgan Parker’s visit to the Crocodile Islands, the Top End and his journey to Brisbane via Uluru (Ayers Rock) will be broadcast on SBS One on 24 February 2013 at 2:30pm.

After the broadcast this feature and previous episodes can be viewed for a limited time on SBS on Demand http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand.

Further Information:
Read article on Laurie Bymarrwanga.
Watch video footage on the Crocodile Islands

Photos: 


Former Darwin Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer, NAILSMA CEO Joe Morrison, Wheel2Wheel Philanthropist Morgan Parker
Laurie Baymarrwanga, Senior Traditional Owner and Australian of the Year 2012, and members of her community

About NAILSMA:
Visit the NAILSMA website

Contact:
Claudia.Luetjens@nailsma.org.au – Phone 08 8946 6564

W2W Logo
About Wheel2Wheel

Wheel2Wheel is an independent non-profit organisation created to undertake televised enduro-adventures that raise awareness of humanitarian issues and provide financial assistance to brilliant yet under-recognised charitable organisations throughout Asia. All funds raised from expeditions are directed towards the nominated humanitarian causes and charitable organisations.
Visit the Wheel2Wheel website.
More about Morgan Parker

Morgan Parker, a successful corporate executive based in Hong Kong 
is a recognized, high profile figure in the Asian real estate industry. During his 15 years in the region with Morgan Stanley, Macquarie Bank, Lend Lease and most recently as President of US-listed retail developer Taubman Asia, his corporate achievements have propelled him to board positions with numerous industry bodies. 
Morgan’s philanthropic interests are born out of desire to find a more active and engaged approach to charity, combined with a personal goal of testing his limits in the name of humanity. He has committed himself to Wheel2Wheel’s first expedition by putting aside 3 years of his corporate life to prepare for and complete the enduro-adventure, then executive produce the ten episode documentary television series.

Better futures for whom: Enforced sub-standard schooling- dysfunction- incarceration and long view dispossession.

 

 For whom the bell tolls: Enforced dispossession.

The better futures strategy flying under the Australian ethnocentric radar is creating dysfunction for a community fighting to hold onto their lands and culture. But destruction is not inevitable; it is the outcome of powers directed against them.

 

Compulsory English only education in Aboriginal Communities throughout the NT is crushing children’s opportunity to learn English or to pass on their own languages. Recent destruction of bilingual education without consultation was ironically for the purpose of reducing government costs in indigenous education.

 

Data from the MySchool website in 2011 shows a significant drop inperformance in Year 3 and Year 5 reading and writing skills across formerbilingual schools ranging from 22% to a massive 89% drop after shifting toan “English only” approach (Professor E Grimes:  2012)[1]

 

Compulsory sub-standard education for 40 % of the NT school population is destroying children’s chances. Ethnocentric policies are creating failure and hopeless attendance prospects. Welfare linked school fines of 400 dollars first offence are putting the poorest parents in the country and their children at risk of having their children removed. (Mothers at Milingimbi)[2] Mothers who remember that children were still being taken in the 1980’s ask what has changed?

 

Some four hundred homelands and their children across the NT have been ruined by funding cuts.[3] The very heart of indigenous language, culture, dance, art and ecological knowledge to manage the country are being destroyed in a mining boom. Forced into ‘better futures’ and off their land they can’t make ends meet and must rely on welfare. [4]

 

In these ‘growth towns’ the rapidly rising police presence has forced indigenous incarceration up 46% in the last ten years. With substandard housing, education and increasing economic desperation the justice system is sweeping these young people into a privatised penal system.[5]

 

In the northern territory 82 per cent incarceration in rate for indigenous people is higher than that in South Africa.

 

So what will become of Indigenous people in this better future. What about indigenous languages. What of the indigenous estate, cleared of its owners and keepers, its languages and culture.

 


[1] (Prof) Charles E. Grimes Australian Society for Indigenous Languages (AuSIL), Darwin; Adjunct Professor, Department of Linguistics; School of Culture, History & Language; College of Asia & the Pacific;Australian National University. (ANU) Canberra.

[2] Four mothers at Milingimbi have been threatened with fines starting at four hundred dollars for missing a meeting with a welfare representative over school attendance. They are embarrassed and did not want to be named. They said things are getting worse since the 2007 intervention.

[3] Professor Jon Altman  et al say, ‘ the estimated 500 outstations/homelands, with approximately 10,000 people associated with them and another 40,000 people linked to outstations/homelands are being stripped of support. http://caepr.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/Publications/topical/NT%20Outstations_1708.pdf

[4] [4] Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory Monitoring Report January — June 2011, school enrolment and attendance has declined from 64.5% in February 2009 to 62.7% in February 2011, despite rapid population growth. Income support recipients have increased from just on 20,000 in June 2009 to nearly 24,000 in June 2011. Reports of child abuse in NTER communities have increased from 174 in 2007–08 to 272 in 2010–11; as have domestic violence reported incidents, from 1612 to 2968. Suicide/self-harm incidents have increased from 109 in 2007–08 to 227 in 2010­–11 in NTER communities.

[5] The NT government policy of deploying police instead of teachers has resulted in a 46% rise in incarceration the last ten years with 82 of every hundred people in jail indigenous and most for misdemeanours.