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Irriti ngurra Warumpila ngayulu nyinapayi. Pulinguru walpangku ngyunya 
yunpa pampunu.

A long time ago, I lived on the land of my people, Warumpi. From the 
mountains, the wind would blow and caress my face.

~ from 'Ngurrparringu (Forgotten)' by Matthew Heffernan

Celebrating the International Year of Indigenous Languages 

With the International Year of Indigenous Languages at an end, we're grateful for all of our poets, Elders, Language Custodians and partners who have helped  Poetry in First Languages strengthen cultural connections and voices across the country.

Delivered by Red Room Poetry and developed by Gunai poet Kirli Saunders, the Poetry in First Languages (PIFL) project celebrates, shares and preserves knowledge of First Nations languages and culture through poetry, music, dance and art. PIFL supports First Nations students in creating poetry in first languages by connecting them to First Nations poets, Elders and Language Custodians on Country to empower pride in their cultural identities resulting in enhanced wellbeing. 

With your support, our 2019 highlights include:

  • 395 First Nations students engaged in 39 workshops
  • 116 student poems published in 6 Languages
  • 64 poems commissioned in 11 Languages
  • 50 employment opportunities for Elders, Custodians, Poets, Artists and Educators
  • 30+ generous partners and supporters
  • 200,000+ community members reached with poems performed at festivals nationally and published on buses, murals, in waterways and more

Read the PIFL 2019 report > 


Help keep First Nations languages alive

Contributing Elders, Language Custodians & artists

Ellen Van Neerven (Mununjali Yugambeh), Matthew Heffernan (Pintupi-Luritja), Melanie Mununggurr Williams (Djapu), Declan Furber Gillick (Arrernte), Nicholas Paton (Ngunawal), Ethan Bell (Ngunawal), Nicole Smede (Woremi), Kirli Saunders (Gunai), Aunty Sharyn Halls (Gundungurra), Aunty Trish Levett (Gundungurra), Jacob Morris (Gumea Dharawal), Aunty Jodi Edwards (Yuin), Paul Collis (Barkindji), Joel Davison (Gadigal), David Cragg (Bundjalung), Allan Giddy.

Workshops & events

  • Gundungurra (Southern Highlands NSW)
    18-20 March 2019 Cultural Day and workshops with Aurora Southern Highlands Steiner School, Berrima Public School, Bowral Public School and Moss Vale High School in partnership with NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and Wingecarribee Shire Council.
    Student poetry on buses >

  • Dharawal (Illawarra NSW)
    7 and 8 May with Figtree Public School, Port Kembla Public School, Warilla North Public School, Oak Flats High School and Dapto High School, in partnership with Merrigong Theatre, Wollongong Art Gallery 

  • Arrernte (Alice Springs, NT) 
    13-14 May with Centralian Senior College and Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School in partnership with NT Writers Festival 
    16 May Student performances at NT Writers Festival alongside commissioned poets

  • Gumea Dharawal (South Coast, NSW)
    19-21 August with Bomaderry High School, Vincentia High School and Nowra East Public School in partnership with Bundanon Trust 

  • Dharawal (Mt Annan, NSW)
    1 November with First Nations NASCA students in years 7­–11 from South West Sydney Schools, in partnership with the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan and NASCA delivered by Ethan Bell and alongside Yuin woman, and Dharawal  Language Custodian, Jodi Edwards.

  • Ngunawal (Canberra, ACT)
    11 November with Mount Stromlo High School, Dickson College and Harrison School.

  • Gadigal (Eora, NSW)
    18 November with Alexandria Park CS, Tempe High School, Mt Allan, Laramba and Hermannsburg Schools, delivered by Gadigal poet, Joel Davison. In partnership with The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, Art Gallery of NSW and NASCA.

Partners and Supporters

Poetry in First Languages is generously supported by many partners since 2018: Oranges & Sardines Foundation, Norman Catts, Northern Illawarra AECG, the National Health Comission and Dharawal Men’s Aboriginal Corporation.