Thursday, 30 June 2016 16:15

FoPA Hosts Language Conference in Guam

The Festival of Pacific Arts (FoPA) is the world's largest gathering of Indigenous Pacific cultures bringing together cultural practitioners, artists, academics, policy makers and researchers. A delegation of 60 artists were selected to represent Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultures at the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts. Last month, Paul Paton and Young Champion, Waka Waka woman Annalee Pope from First Languages Australia attended the Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam. Paul and Annalee represented Australia at the Festival’s Inaugural Indigenous Languages Conference where they discussed current work to support language revitalisation in Australia, particularly digital resources, the interactive language map, team and resource building projects. Their presentation was well received by other Pacific nations who found similarities in cultural contexts in their efforts to revitalise and maintain their languages. The festival was a good opportunity for knowledge sharing among different language groups throughout the Pacific. Paul commented that the keynote address by Dr Robert Underwood on his connection to language was one of the highlights of the festival. Dr Underwood is a politian and educator and the current President of the University of Guam. 

The 12th festival was held in Guam from May 22 - June 4 and has been held every four years since 1972. The festival unites groups from 27 countries throughout the Pacific and aims to showcase arts and culture. The two weeks of festivities aim to enhance people’s understanding and appreciation for their Pacific neighbours. Hawaiʻi will be hosting the Festival of Pacific Arts (FoPA) in 2020.

To read the Pacific Islands Report article on the language conference click here
To learn more about the festival visit the FoPA website here 

Published in Blog
Friday, 05 February 2016 11:18


Gunnai/Kurnai Digital Resources

A set of six Gunnai/Kurnai story books originally published in 2008 have been redeveloped into digital resources and released as six brand new Aboriginal language apps featuring Gunnai/Kurnai language of the Gunnai/Kurnai peoples of Gippsland in east Victoria. Launched on Monday 14th December 2015 at Dala Yooro Pre-School in Bairnsdale, the six interactive digital storybook apps feature traditional Gunnai/Kurnai Creation Stories including why Kowern the Echidna has spikes on his back and how Wurrin the Sun was made. These stories are supported by illustrations and narration from Gunnai/Kurnai community members and artists. Interactive digital story books are a great resource for children of all ages to develop reading and comprehension skills and can be used as part of a lesson plan or reading strategy and to help children learn spelling and pronunciation.

Available on the App Store

Click the icon above to download the apps.

The Apps are available now for download at the App Store, for use on iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch.

Teacher Resources

Doris Paton is currently preparing teacher's notes to accompany each app. Please check back soon for updates, or you can contact Emma Hutchinson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the VACL office on 9600 3811 for further details. 


kowern icon copy      mermandho icon copy      nerran icon copy 

 towera icon copywurrin icon copybowkan icon copy

Published in Projects

Call for Expressions of Interest

Artists-in-Residence and Volunteers

Shearwater Festival 2014


The Shearwater Festival Working Group is calling for Expressions of Interest to participate in the Shearwater Festival 2014 as Artist/s-in-Residence and Volunteers. The Shearwater Festival has a strong Indigenous and environmental focus and will be held on Phillip Island on the 22nd and 23rd November 2014, with a six week Education Program in schools preceding it. The Shearwater Festival brings communities together to celebrate the migration of the short-tailed shearwater birds, one million of which live on Phillip Island.

Festival activities include a street procession, creative, cultural and environmental workshops, a participative dance ritual, music and dance performances and environmental walks and talks. In the Shearwater Education Program, school children participate in creative, cultural and environmental activities leading up to the Festival. The Shearwater Festival is auspiced by the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation of Languages and sponsored by the Bass Coast Shire in partnership with Phillip Island Nature Park and the Bendigo Bank.


Artist/s-in-Residence and Volunteer/s

Expressions of Interest are welcome for all or part of the Project Brief.

The role of the Artists-in-Residence and Volunteers will include the following:

  • Work with and inspire schools, community members, arts groups and individuals to participate in the Shearwater Festival and Education Program
  • Coordinate activities such as the Street Parade, Workshops, Shearwater Education Program, Shearwater Concert and other Festival activities


Expression of Interest

The Expression of Interest from applicants will include:

  • A two page CV of relevant experience
  • Identification of which part/s of the Shearwater Festival and Education Program you are applying for
  • A draft Project Plan including timelines and deliverables
  • An hourly rate
  • Contact details of two professional referees
  • Inclusion of maximum of 10 images (jpg) relevant to the project.

Please direct enquiries about Artists-in-Residence/Volunteers Brief to:

Dr Laura Brearley

Shearwater Festival Working Group Representative

0434 596800   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For other information go to:


Expressions of Interest are due COB Monday 15th September, 2014.


Image: Baby Shearwater, Terry Melvin


Published in Blog
Thursday, 28 August 2014 15:53

Biyadin: Shearwater Festival 2014


Bringing Community Together

Shearwater Festival 221114untitled-802014 

One million shearwaters have their rookeries on Phillip Island and they fly 15,000 kilometres in their annual migration from Bass Strait in the Southern Ocean to the Bering Sea in the Northern Pacific. The short-tailed shearwater is celebrated as a symbol of creative, cultural and environmental interconnectedness.

The third Shearwater Festival held on Phillip Island on November 22 and 23 brought the community together in a creative, cultural and environmental celebration of the short tailed shearwaters. The Festival involved school children and families as well as Indigenous and non-Indigenous creative artists, musicians and Elders.

The two-day Festival began on Saturday morning with a colourful Street Parade along Thompson Avenue in Cowes, led by Indigenous Elders and artists and a shearwater puppet with a seven-metre wingspan. The ‘Moon Bird’ puppet had been made by Artist-in-Residence Annie Edney. Following the bird were drummers, percussionists and singers along with different kinds of sea creature puppets made and carried by local school children in the Shearwater Education Program leading up to the Festival.

The Street Parade made its way down to the Cowes Foreshore where Senior Boon Wurrung Elder Aunty Carolyn Briggs, welcomed people to her Country with a smoking ceremony. A group of Indigenous dancers and local Indigenous school children called Baarny Bupap (Water Babies) performed traditional Creation Dances and a Shearwater Dance choreographed especially for the occasion by Steve Parker and Lowell Hunter.

There were opening speeches from the CEO of the auspicing organisation, the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, Mr Paul Paton. The newly appointed mayor of the Bass Coast Shire Council, Mayor Kimberley Brown also spoke. Phillip Island Nature Park Board Member, Stephen Davie and Bruce Procter from the San Remo Bendigo Bank also expressed their appreciation in being involved of the Festival.

On Saturday afternoon there were creative and cultural workshops at the Cowes Cultural Centre. They included singing and dancing workshops, Indigenous story-telling and an opportunity to learn to play the gumleaf with well-known Aboriginal Elder, Uncle Herb Patten. A participative ritual performance facilitated by local dance teacher, Tony Norquay completed the day.  

In the early evening, Graeme Burgan, Senior Education Ranger at the Phillip Island Nature Park, conducted an environmental talk on the latest research on the shearwater birds at the Cape Woolamai Surf Life Saving Club. He led dusk and dawn walks at Cape Woolamai to see the shearwaters return at dusk and take off at dawn from their rookeries.

The Sunday Concert at the Cowes Cultural Centre was filled to capacity. It featured high profile musicians Kutcha Edwards, Archie Roach, Yirrmal and the Yolngu Boys, Marcia Howard and Rose Bygrave and members of the Deep Listening Band and Friends, Steve Sedergreen, Mike Jordan, Ron Murray, ToK Norris and Uncle Herb Patten. Archie Roach, much loved Indigenous musician received a standing ovation at the end of the concert.

The Shearwater Festival is auspiced by the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation of Languages and sponsored by the Bass Coast Shire in partnership with Phillip Island Nature Park and ABC Gippsland. The Bendigo Bank and Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation also contributed support to the Festival this year. 

The Shearwater Festival 2015 will be held on the 21st and 22nd of November 2015. If you would like to become a member of the Shearwater Festival Working Group, the Volunteer Team or become a partner or sponsor, please contact Dr Laura Brearley 0434 596800, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can hear Education Ranger Graeme Burgan from the Phillip Island Nature Park talking about the short-tailed shearwaters on

cape woolami




Published in Projects