‘Language is identity’

LEARNED MAN: Wagga's Mark Saddler is among the first to graduate from a Wiradjuri language course at CSU.

LEARNED MAN: Wagga's Mark Saddler is among the first to graduate from a Wiradjuri language course at CSU.

THE first students of Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) Wiradjuri course have received their certificates.

The Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage delivers a unique insight and knowledge about one of Australia’s many Aboriginal nations.

Wiradjuri gibirr (man) Mark Saddler is one of the 15 people who graduated from the course this week.

The course uses a dictionary created by Stan Grant Senior and Dr John Rudder.

“Uncle Stan and the Wiradjuri elders have worked hard to put together the book and the plan,” Mr Saddler said.

He said uncle Stan had been an incredible tutor for the students.

“Most Aboriginal people have lived with the language but it’s a broken language, disrupted by 245 years of colonisation,” Mr Saddler said.

Being able to speak the language in complete sentences filled Mr Saddler with immense pride.

Language helps define our culture and identity. - Wiradjuri language graduate Mark Saddler

The gunhi dhalany (mother tongue) is key for Australian Aboriginals and shapes identity and culture.

Mr Saddler said the course meant more than just words and a certificate to him.

“Language helps define our culture and identity,” he said.

“It makes me immensely proud of being a Wiradjuri man and immensely proud of the people who have come before us and the people who are going to follow us.”

Mr Saddler said by speaking the Wiradjuri language it allowed people to reclaim an identity.

CSU’s Dean of Science Tim Wess was among the graduates and said it now had the chance to find more speakers.

“We can learn from how Welsh, Irish Gaelic and Maori can be brought back as a language,” Mr Wess said.

Mr Wess said a culture would disappear if the language disappeared.

With the latest group of graduates, there were 20 speakers of Wiradjuri and Mr Wess said it could only grow.

Wiradjuri language graduates

  • Kim Burke
  • Dianne Carroll
  • Linda Elliott
  • Letetia Harris
  • Peter Ingram
  • Harry Lambshead
  • Linda Matheson
  • Jason O’Neil
  • Kerrie O’Sullivan
  • Nyree Reynolds
  • Mark Saddler
  • Bernard Sullivan
  • Graham Traynor
  • Lorraine Tye
  • Timothy Wess
  • Ray Woods
  • Nives Zalokar
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