What's On

Lost for words: Displacement through enforced and prioritised language

Presented in Season 2 2019

Presented by Arts House
as part of
Refuge 2019: Displacement

Sat 31 Aug, 1.30pm
90 mins
Free, booking required

A Welcome to Country ceremony will be held prior to this session at 10.30am

Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
North Melbourne

Without our language, our knowledge and cultural identity becomes fragmented.

Control over language is intrinsically tied to colonial oppression and has been exercised through schooling. English has been used as a colonial tactic to erase and displace Indigenous languages across Australia, and beyond. How then do we shake off remnants of colonial control, and how do we embrace multiple languages and recover learnings? Is it possible to decolonise the English language?

Parbin-ata Carolyn Briggs AM, (Boon Wurrung Senior Elder)
Harley Dunolly-Lee, Community Linguist and Project Officer (Dja Dja Wurrung), Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VCAL)
Sione Napi Francis, Lead Curator, Te Pasifika Gallery Redevelopment, First Peoples Department, Melbourne Museum
Dr James Oliver, Transdisciplinary academic and writer, Monash University

Parbin-ata Carolyn Briggs AM is a Boon Wurrung senior Elder, a descendant of the First Peoples of Melbourne, the Yaluk-ut Weelam clan of the Boon Wurrung, who is recognised as a keeper of the history and genealogies of her people. N’arweet is a language and linguistics expert and is dedicated to recording her language in oral and written form. She has been active in community development, Native Title, cultural preservation and cultural promotion, developing and supporting opportunities for Indigenous youth and Boon Wurrung culture for over 40 years.

Harley Dunolly-Lee is a Guli person who speaks the Dja Dja Wurrung language. Harley is the community linguist and researcher at the VACL (Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages). Harley has a Bachelor Degree in the Arts which had a focus of Linguistics, Archaeology and Indigenous Studies and a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Linguistics. Harley has been working with VACL as a community member for about 11 years. Most of these years were spent learning how to speak Dja Dja Wurrung and other Kulin languages.

Sione Napi Francis is a Tongan Australian with ties to Aotearoa who grew up on Boon Wurrung country in Narrm/ Melbourne and work in the First Peoples Department as Lead Curator on the Te Pasifika Gallery Redevelopment Project at Melbourne Museum. As a museum professional, cultural leader and artist, Sione is committed to serving First Peoples and Pacific First Nations through supporting open dialogues between communities, academics and cultural institutions. Sione’s current areas of interest are First Peoples co-curating/ development models in cross-disciplinary collections across the Pacific region. Also indigenous leadership and pathways in today’s museums: guiding principles and examples. A major focus is First Nations representation in the Digital/ online area: looking at social interaction/ connections.

James Oliver is a Hebridean Gàidheal from the Isle of Skye, where he was raised on ancestral lands, formally protected and recognised under land legislation and cultural safeguard since 1886. In his community, this safeguard began to be significantly eroded during the 1980s—influenced by the ‘white settler’ phenomenon in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. In 2002 his PhD (1998-2002) was a native sociolinguistic study on identity, place and belonging in the Hebrides and wider Gàidhealtachd. James’ work has contributed to language policy research and more recently to a range of social practice and creative practice research in Scotland and Australia. He is Senior Lecturer at Monash University.

Lost for words: Displacement through enforced and prioritised language is a session of the North Melbourne School of Displacement

Other sessions include:

Sat 31 Aug
10.30am Over Our Heads: Housing and Homelessness

Sun 1 Sep
10.30am In a Strange Land: How does culture survive when you can’t go home
1.30pm A billycan, a crowbar and an axe: Indigenous survival techniques for the apocalypse

Mon 2 Sep
6pm The future is Indigenous: Cultural change to survive a climate change world

Tue 3 Sep
6pm Not a drop to drink: Aqua nullius and global warming, securing First Nations water rights

North Melbourne School of Displacement by artist Keg de Souza has been co-programmed with Wirlomin Noongar collaborator Claire G. Coleman




Supported by – The City of Melbourne through Arts House. Redfern School of Displacement was first presented as part of the 20th Biennale of Sydney (2016)

Image by – Document Photography