Improving First Nations community access to archives

Published on Friday 20th of October 2023

Aboriginal Languages Week 22–29 October is being celebrated across NSW with the theme ‘Languages Alive, Culture Thrives’. Here at Museums of History NSW we acknowledge the incredible work local communities are doing to reclaim and revitalise Indigenous languages across NSW.

To support this important work, MHNSW in collaboration with the Aboriginal Languages Trust NSW is set to begin an exciting initiative to improve the access and experiences of First Nations communities to archival material in our collections. These include the State Archives, a collection of over 14 million items that contains material that is potentially invaluable to First Nations peoples and cultures.

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Gulwanyang Moran, a proud Birrbay and Dhanggati woman of the Gathang language group and the newest member of MHNSW team. Taking up the role of manager of First Nations Community Access to Archives, Gulwanyang brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from working on the ground for over 10 years in her peoples’ own language reclamation and revitalisation work. Facilitating state-wide language education programs has further broadened her understandings of language revitalisation communities’ aspirations and needs. Gulwanyang holds a Master of Indigenous Languages Education and sits on the National Language Policy Partnership group as an independent community representative to help drive languages forward.

Real restitution involves rematriation ... and truth-telling.

At the centre of everything Gulwanyang does are languages and cultures:

‘Real restitution involves rematriation – the process of weaving traditional and cultural knowledge back in harmony with the land – and truth-telling. It means giving back what was taken. Back into the breath of our people. Back into country. Back to belonging. Access to our cultural heritage is our right as First Nations peoples. I’m here for that. It’s a real honour to build a team to help facilitate this process of language and cultural rematriation into our communities across NSW, so we can continue doing what we do best. Driving languages forward on the ground.’

The Aboriginal Languages Trust NSW is facilitating and supporting events across NSW in celebration of Aboriginal Languages Week, including the First Nations Speaker Series at the Museum of Sydney.

Top image: Gulwanyang Moran, 2022 (detail). Photo © Marley Morgan Photography

Uncle Wes Marne,a Bigambul Elder telling stories at the Yarning Circle as part of the Eel Festival at Elizabeth Farm

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