Established in 2004, Many Rivers Aboriginal Language Centre (MRALC) provides strategic support for Aboriginal communities of the northern and central coasts of NSW who want to revitalise their languages. MRALC is a regional language activity that aims to support the following languages: Awabakal – Wonnarua, Bundjalung, Darkinyung, Dhanggati, Gathang (Birrbay, Warrimay & Guringay), and Yaygirr – Yaegl.
Like other regional language centres, MRALC conducts research on several Aboriginal languages and supports communities in their efforts to learn and teach their languages. Regional Aboriginal Language Centres have until recently only existed in more remote areas of Australia, for example Katherine Regional Aboriginal Language Centre, and Wangka Maya in Port Hedland. There have been language programs elsewhere including NSW but they have tended to work with one local language, or closely related dialects, for example the Yuwaalaraay Language Program based in Walgett supports Yuwaalaraay, Yuwaalayaay and Gamilaraay. MRALC has an Advisory Group made up of representatives from all languages, and a Specialist Group of Elders, linguists and teachers who assist as needed. MRALC employs a coordinator – linguist, language researchers – teachers and teacher – linguists.
MRALC supports Aboriginal language revitalisation, that is research and development for the six language groups, through activities that include:
- Providing access to linguistic expertise, and training for Aboriginal people.
- Recording languages wherever possible, and assisting with access to archival materials, providing a regional storage base for these materials.
- Producing language materials such as dictionaries, grammars, learner’s guides, transcriptions, translations and language teaching resources.
- Providing community access to languages by using information technology such as: Transcriber, Toolbox, Powerpoint and Adobe Audition.
- Employing linguists, Aboriginal language researchers and specialists in Information and Communication Technology.
- Raising awareness in the wider community about the value of Aboriginal languages.