Taditional Wakka Wakka man and community engagement officer Fred Cobbo and Murgon State School principal Simon Cotton. Photo/Tristan Evert
Taditional Wakka Wakka man and community engagement officer Fred Cobbo and Murgon State School principal Simon Cotton. Photo/Tristan Evert

Burnett school to introduce Wakka Wakka language program

THE Burnett region has a proud history with Indigenous culture, from Olympic gold medallists to renowned artists and respected elders, the region is rich with stories, talent and history from First Australians.

For NAIDOC week, the South Burnett Times will shine a light on the Indigenous people, culture and traditions that make this region special.

The South Burnett Times team respects and honours Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present, and future.

We acknowledge the stories, traditions, and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on this land, the traditional land of the Wakka Wakka people.

IN WHAT is being hailed as one of the biggest moments in Cherbourg’s history, a Burnett school is set to introduce a Wakka Wakka language and cultural program.

Spearheaded by Murgon State High School’s community engagement officer Fred Cobbo, the school will aim to ‘revive’ the local language and culture in the community.

Mr Cobbo is a traditional Wakka Wakka person who said a lot of the young Aboriginal kids in the community want an identity, and the Wakka Wakka language is their identity.

“Kids learn French and Spanish, but we want our kids to also learn the Wakka Wakka language because it’s an identity for a lot of these children,” Mr Cobbo said.

“We also want non-Indigenous kids to learn it as well because it’s about coming together, reconciling and trying to all walk together.

“The feedback I have got from the wider community is that they love the idea, they want to know the language and culture of the land they are living on.”

The program will not only focus on the traditional language, but will immerse students in the Wakka Wakka culture.

As well as teaching the students the correct words and pronunciation, the program will explore the Wakka Wakka history and traditions.

Traditional Wakka Wakka Elder Uncle Eric Law. Photo/Tristan Evert
Traditional Wakka Wakka Elder Uncle Eric Law. Photo/Tristan Evert

Wakka Wakka Elder Uncle Eric Law said he thinks this is one of the biggest moments in the history of Cherbourg.

“I guarantee once our young people and the community start learning this language and culture, the whole community of Cherbourg will do a 360 degree turn. That’s how much affect I think this will have on Cherbourg,” Mr Law said.

“For this school here in Murgon to have the bravery and the courage to do something like this was incredible.

“An old bloke in Central Australia once told me that all you need to do with your culture is wake it up and I have always believed our culture was never dead, just asleep.”

It has been a historic NAIDOC week for the South Burnett community with the Aboriginal flag raised for the first time outside the Murgon RSL this morning.

A sight Mr Law thought he would never see.

Murgon State High School principal Simon Cotton said the school is going to revive the local language.

“To get the language program up and running we had to obtain the authority from the local language owners and the traditional owners,” Mr Cotton said.

“It’s going to be a language program, but very much an experience in the Wakka Wakka culture and history.

“The response from the community has been really good, lots of parents have come in and said they are pleased this is happening.”

The program will be launched at the start of the 20201 school year.

South Burnett

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