Step Up, Step Down wins an Aboriginal Languages Award

06 June 2024
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The Goldfields Aboriginal Language Centre Aboriginal Corporation (GALCAC) held their 8th annual ‘Goldfields Aboriginal Languages Awards 2024’ on 24 May, where award winners were announced at a morning tea held in Kalgoorlie.

The GALCAC runs the annual ‘Language Awards’ event where members of the public nominate deserving individuals and organisations who should be recognised for their contribution to the use and preservation of Aboriginal languages of the Goldfields region.

Neami’s Step Up, Step Down won in the category “Outstanding individual, organisation or business promoting interpretation and translating of Aboriginal languages”, for their work in creating the Ngaanyatjarra talking boards.

The Step Up, Step Down team worked in collaboration with Sue Hanson (CEO and Senior Linguist at GALCAC) and her team to produce talking boards as a resource for First Nation’s Ngaanyatjarra speakers experiencing mental health distress. The project supports target 14 under Closing The Gap ‘people enjoy high levels of social and emotional wellbeing’.

The talking boards aim to reduce the cognitive load for people, at a time when they are already under significant stress, by providing translated words and phrases. When people present to a health practitioner, they can push the buttons of a word or phrase that helps them describe their feelings, which is then translated into English for the practitioner to understand.

Over the time that these boards were in the planning stages, Sue worked with Elders and community members over many meetings to ensure the cultural context of the concepts and words. They could discuss the words and phrases that Neami had collected in consultation with local community services and organisations who support Ngaanyatjarra people. Here, they worked on the most appropriate translation, designed the artwork, and produced the voice recordings.

The talking boards are the first of what the Language Centre aims to be a series of boards providing First Nations peoples with tools for better communication and identification of feelings and experiences.

Nicole Jolly, Director Integrated Supports, reflected, “It is really important that we support not only the preservation of language, but the right of people to choose to describe their experiences of social and emotional wellbeing in their chosen language and cultural context. It was a privilege to work with Sue and the community on this project and to develop a number of boards we’ve been able to donate to those working with Ngaanyatjarra people across the Goldfields”

Congratulations to the Kalgoorlie team on the award and well-deserved recognition of their efforts to support better mental health and wellbeing in local communities.

Pictured: Nicole Jolly, Neami Director Integrated Supports