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Torres Strait languages and voices part of national conversations at PULiiMA Conference

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) has supported a delegation of language leaders, traditional dancers and rangers from the region to attend the 8th PULiiMA Indigenous Languages and Technology Conference in Darwin this week (21-25 August).

The biennial event is the only conference of its kind designed by First Nations people, for First Nations people. With more than 900 participants, 450 presenters and several major announcements, 2023 PULiiMA will be the largest gathering, since its inception in 2007.

TSRA Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM said the importance of Torres Strait representation at PULiiMA was vital to the region’s language preservation plans.

“The event attracts national and international language pioneers, experts and innovators who share new technologies, equipment and projects that we can implement in our communities to assist language maintenance,” Mr Stephen said.

Earlier this year, TSRA launched the Torres Strait Traditional Languages Association (TSTLA) with the aim of progressing the region’s language aspirations.

“Torres Strait languages have been reported by UNESCO as being severely endangered, survived primarily through song and dance practices,” he said.

“With support of the TSRA, the Association will continue to facilitate the revitalisation and maintenance of traditional languages across the region.

“Participation at events like PULiiMA will inspire and guide the Torres Strait Traditional Language Association, and drive outcomes for our communities.

“TSRA also continues to support traditional dance teams to perform on national and international platforms that elevate and showcase Torres Strait culture and language,” he said.

Mer’s Neguam Dance Troupe has also been selected as part of the TSRA delegation to perform and participate at PULiiMA.

Torres Strait linguists and community language educators will not only attend PULiiMA, but also facilitate discussions.

The program includes a presentation, co-hosted by Torres Strait language champions Lala Gutchen and Kapua Gutchen, who will lead conversations on the presentation New technologies fostering community-driven, governed and managed first language revitalisation, maintenance and teaching.

Ms Gutchen is the 2023 NAIDOC Caring for Country and Culture Award for her efforts in climate change and language preservation in the Torres Strait.

PULiiMA 2023 have announced Leitha Assan to join celebrated Aboriginal comedian, Sean Choolburra as Master of Ceremonies. Ms Assan is a Torres Strait language and arts advocate, appointed to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation Board and a member of the Coalition of Peaks Languages Policy Partnerships Committee and the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (IDIL) Directions Advisory Group.

This year’s Conference includes the official launch of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032 and the release of Australia’s Action Plan Voices of Country, developed in consultation with the IDIL Directions Advisory Group.

As a member of the IDIL Directions Advisory Group, Ms Assan said the Action Plan is crucial for restorative justice and survival of First Nations’ traditional languages.

“The International Decade of Indigenous Languages was a key outcome of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, steered by the Global Task Force established by UNESCO,” she said.

“In Australia’s Action Plan, Torres Strait Islander voices are prominent to ensure equal representation of both First Nations cultures and our many languages and dialects.

“The plan features an incredible TSRA Case Study following the success of the Malu Kiai Boigu Rangers and their efforts in Caring for Country using traditional methods passed down through generations,” she said.

“Arts and culture also play a significant role in maintaining our languages. Expression of culture and language – through music, literature, visual arts, theatre, multi-media and dance – is at the core of our lifestyle. It’s embedded in our culture and defines who we are today.”

The 2023 PULiiMA Indigenous Languages and Technology Conference will be hosted at the Darwin Convention Centre from 21-25 August 2023.

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  • Torres Strait languages and voices part of national conversations at PULiiMA Conference
  • Torres Strait languages and voices part of national conversations at PULiiMA Conference

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