Our Aboriginal and Islander staff facilitated an introduction to the language of Kriol for staff. The training aimed to increase our organisation’s understanding of the language barriers that Aboriginal clients can face when accessing our services.
What is Kriol?
Kriol is the most widely spoken Aboriginal language in Australia today. It’s spoken by an estimated 30,000 or more Aboriginal people throughout a large part of northern Australia.
Kriol is a ‘new’ Aboriginal language with a special history, not an original traditional Aboriginal language. The roots of Kriol are in Aboriginal people’s contact history on cattle stations, missions and reserves, where speakers of different languages used particular ‘ways of talking’, for communicating together. Such ‘contact languages’ bridged across all the different language groups, including English.
Practice makes perfect
Kriol-speaking staff demonstrated the language with readings and demonstrations. They also spoke of the emergence of Kriol in Northern Territory institutions where indigenous children were not allowed to speak their language.
During the cultural training, staff were encouraged to speak and read Kirol. Activities included:
- learning to pronounce the Kriol ‘elfabet’
- translating the story Kuwala en Mun bin bes fren
- Developing their own story in Kriol
Using the resources provided, staff attempted to write a short story in Kriol. Many people found this activity particularly challenging. Aboriginal staff reflected on this, saying that it demonstrating the obstacles that many indigenous people when reading and writing English.
Mi Bingga was a favourite of the short stories created during this activity:
Wantaim jad boi imin plei gadim tedul. Bat imin tedul ungri. Tedul bitem jad boi bingga na boi bin sei “Mi Bingga, Tedul!”
Once upon a time, there was a boy playing with a turtle. But that turtle was hungry. The turtle bit the boy’s finger and the boy screamed out “Turtle, that’s my finger!”
Training is held regularly by Aboriginal and Torres Strait staff for our non-indigenous staff, sharing insights, beliefs and history of the world’s oldest living culture.
This activity was made possible because of the knowledge and skills of our Darwin Aboriginal and Islander Cultural Advisors, George “Burri” Butler, Valerie Tambling and Lauchlan Manski.