The KU Marcia Burgess Foundation is thrilled to announce 12 months of support for the continuation and expansion of a local Aboriginal language program.

Following the success of the Dharawal Early Years Language Program at KU Sutherland and KU Heathcote in 2021, it will now be expanded to include KU ANSTO from July 2022 with thanks to the generosity of supporters of the KU Marcia Burgess Foundation.

The program is a progression of KU’s commitment to reconciliation as services continue a journey of learning and building a knowledge base of the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Dharawal peoples. The three participating KU services will establish and nurture partnerships with local peoples, enrolled Aboriginal families, and relevant organisations to support the program.

The Dharawal Early Years Language Program was an initiative first explored by Collette Heslehurst, the Director of KU Sutherland Preschool. Her research of local programs to develop connections with the local Aboriginal community led to KU being invited by Gujaga Foundation CEO, Raymond Ingrey, and local Elder, Shayne Williams, to consider introducing the language program to services located on Dharawal Land.

The Gujaga Foundation is the peak organisation leading language, cultural and research activities within the La Perouse Aboriginal community, and delivers education-based language programs across the Dharawal cultural lands of eastern, southern and south western Sydney and upper Illawarra.

Children receive language tuition that covers two broad areas: The first, is me, my family and friends - meeting and greeting, kinship, body parts, friends, days, numbers. And the second is the environment – rivers, bush, beach, identifying objects, animals, plants.

“Ten years ago, our community wasn’t aware we were on Dharawal Land. KU children have introduced their families to this rich language, and by doing that they have a sense of belonging and responsibility.” – Collette Heslehurst, Director of KU Sutherland

Language initiatives at KU are geared toward nurturing children’s sense of belonging not just to their immediate environments, but to their communities and society itself as well. Read more about KU’s language initiatives in 2021.