Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages Illustrations of practice

Leigh Creek Area School


Leigh Creek is situated 560kms north of Adelaide in the hot, arid zone of South Australia’s northern Flinders Ranges. Leigh Creek Area School caters to students from Foundation to Year 12 (F – 12) and is located on the traditional lands of the Adnyamathanha Peoples.

The current enrolment is 50 - 60 students, of whom approximately 80% are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. The school experienced a decline in enrolments with the closure of the coal mine in 2016. However, a later government decision to make housing available to families has seen a modest increase.

The school has implemented an Adnyamathanha Aboriginal Language revival program in consultation with the community, Adnyamathanha Elders and the Adnyamathanha Language and Culture Committee (ALACC).The language program is timetabled for three 45-minute lessons per week for students in Foundation to Year 9 and five 45-minute lessons per week for Years 10 to 12.

Leigh Creek Area School was one of five South Australian schools to be awarded an Innovative Language Program Grant by the South Australia Department for Education. The school uses the grant to access linguists from the Mobile Language Team who support the revival program, record Adnyamathanha Language and assist in the development of resources. The school’s educators use culturally responsive teaching methods and collaborate with community in the classroom and on Country, to learn, reawaken and strengthen Adnyamathanha.

This illustration of practice demonstrates the whole school and community approach to Adnyamathanha Language and culture teaching and learning, with students from F-12 learning and engaging with Adnyamathanha Language and culture in the classroom and on Country. The album of videos is designed to be viewed in sequence. However, the titles reference the theme for each video to assist with viewing them individually:

Video 1: Welcome to Leigh Creek Area School – school context

Video 2: Teaching and Learning Adnyamathanha – teaching team perspective

Video 3: Whole school and community approach – community perspective

Video 4: Learning our Language – student voice and engagement

Video 5: Positive outcomes – benefits and challenges

Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages- Language Revival Learner Pathway Years F-10 sequence

For the F-10 units of work illustrated, all are based on family, Moiety systems, relationships, Kinship, Muda, belonging and well-being.

F-2 Curriculum connections


Interact with each other, the teaching team and visiting Elders/community members, using language and gestures to greet and talk about self and family

[Key concepts: self, family and relationships; Key processes: interacting, sharing] (ACLFWC130)

Participate in guided group activities, such as games, songs and simple tasks, using movement and gestures to support understanding and to convey meaning

[Key concepts: cooperation, play; Key processes: turn-taking, matching, choosing, cooperating, following instructions] (ACLFWC131)


Give factual information using simple statements, gestures and captions

[Key concepts: Country/Place, community life; Key processes: labelling, describing, presenting, recounting] (ACLFWC134)


Create and present shared stories, songs and performances, using familiar words and patterns and support materials

[Key concepts: story, performance; Key processes: retelling, singing, re-enacting, dancing, drawing, performing; Key text types: songs, dances, stories, paintings and visual design, performances] (ACLFWC136)


Describe aspects of self, such as family, school/class and language/s spoken, considering how these contribute to their sense of identity

[Key concepts: identity, self, family, belonging; Key processes: describing, explaining, identifying] (ACLFWC139)

Systems of language

Learn the different sounds of the language and link these to written symbols and conventions

[Key concepts; pronunciation, intonation, writing; Key processes: imitating, noticing, distinguishing, reading aloud] (ACLFWU141)

Language variation and change

Recognise that different words and language forms are used to address and communicate with people according to relationship and context

[Key concepts: kinship, context; Key processes: noticing, recognising] (ACLFWU145)

Years 3-6 Curriculum connections


Interact with peers, the teaching team and visiting Elders/community members about aspects of personal worlds, such as experiences at school, home, everyday routines, interests and activities

[Key concepts: relationship, kinship, family, experience; Key Processes: describing, sharing, responding, recounting] (ACLFWC152)

Participate in guided tasks that involve following instructions, making things, cooperating with peers, planning for and conducting shared events, activities or school performances

[Key concepts: collaboration, planning, performance; Key processes: compiling, planning, rehearsing, making] (ACLFWC153)


Listen to, read and view different real and imaginative texts, identifying and making simple statements about key elements, characters and events, and interpreting cultural expressions and behaviours

[Key concepts: visual design, representation, journey; Key processes: participating, describing, predicting, recalling, responding, listening, shared/guided reading; Key text types: songs, dances, stories, paintings and visual design, video clips] (ACLFWC157)


Create bilingual texts for the classroom and the school community, such as songs, picture dictionaries, captions for images and displays, photo stories

[Key concepts: bilingualism, expression; Key processes: performing, describing, code-mixing, captioning] (ACLFWC160)


Explore their own sense of identity, including elements such as family, friends, interests, membership of groups, and consider markers of identity that may be important across all cultures

[Key concepts: identity (individual and group), kinship, community, membership; Key processes: creating, representing, discussing, comparing] (ACLFWC161)

Systems of language

Distinguish and produce the speech sounds of the language, understanding how these are represented in writing

[Key concepts: punctuation, upper and lower case letters, diacritics, intonation, spelling; Key processes: identifying, discriminating, noticing, listening, reading] (ACLFWU163)

Expand vocabulary in the language through word-formation processes and recognise and use simple language structures

[Key concepts: word formation, word class, grammatical person and number, negation, metalanguage; Key processes: noticing, comparing, applying, understanding, modifying meaning] (ACLFWU164)

Recognise how kin relationships link people, Place and story

[Key concepts: kinship system, ways of talking, human relationships, interrelatedness; Key processes: recognising, interpreting, discussing (ACLFWU166)

Years 7-10 Curriculum connections


Engage with peers, the teaching team and visiting Elders/community members to exchange information about interests, experiences, plans and aspirations

[Key concepts: experience, aspiration; Key processes: recounting, exchanging, connecting] (ACLFWC174)

Engage in activities that involve collaboration, planning, organising, promoting and taking action

[Key concepts: event, experience; Key processes: planning, organising, negotiating] (ACLFWC175)


Interpret and respond to texts by sharing personal reactions, comparing themes, describing and explaining aspects of artistic expression and how these relate to land, sky, sea, water, people, plants, animals and social and ecological relationships

[Key concepts: representation, imagination; Key processes: interpreting, explaining, describing, discussing; Key text types: songs, dances, stories, paintings and visual design, video clips, films] (ACLFWC179)


Translate and interpret texts from the language to English and vice versa, comparing their versions and considering how to explain elements that involve cultural knowledge or understanding

[Key concepts: equivalence, representation, meaning, interpretation, idiom; Key processes: comparing, explaining, interpreting] (ACLFWC181)


Consider and discuss their own and each other’s ways of communicating and expressing identity, reflecting on how the language links the local, regional and national identity of its speakers with the land

[Key concepts: identity, perspective, biography; Key processes: sharing, comparing, considering, reflecting, analysing] (ACLFWC183)

Systems of language

Understand and explain the sound patterns in spoken language and use developing phonemic awareness to represent these patterns in written form

[Key concepts: metalanguage, patterns, phonetic articulation, syllable; Key processes: reading, investigating, comparing] (ACLFWU185)

Expand vocabulary and understand and use a range of vocabulary sets and grammatical structures that are available in the language

[Key concepts: system, grammatical case, transitivity; Key processes: explaining, discussing] (ACLFWU186)

Investigate how the kinship system functions to integrate personal and community histories and relationships

[Key concepts: interconnectedness, human relationships, ownership, rights and responsibilities; Key processes: describing, explaining, investigating, exploring] (ACLFWU188)

Role of language and culture

Reflect on how ways of using language are shaped by communities’ ways of thinking, behaving and viewing the world, and the role of language in passing on knowledge

[Key concepts: Indigenous knowledge, value transmission; Key processes: reflecting, exploring, analysing, comparing] (ACLFWU193)

Cross Curriculum priorities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures

The Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages provides a direct way of learning about and engaging with diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures are an integral part of learning Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages as there is an inseparable connection between the languages and land, sea, sky and waterways. Through learning a framework language, all students gain access to knowledge and understanding of Australia that can only come from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander perspective.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, learning their own language can have a significant influence on their overall learning and achievements. It can foster a strong sense of identity, pride and self-esteem and enables students to develop a wider recognition and understanding of their culture, Country/Place and People. This then contributes to their wellbeing.


Organising ideas



Australia has two distinct Indigenous groups: Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and within those groups there is significant diversity.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities maintain a special connection to and responsibility for Country/Place.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have holistic belief systems and are spiritually and intellectually connected to the land, sea, sky and waterways.



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies have many Language Groups.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ways of life are uniquely expressed through ways of being, knowing, thinking and doing.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples live in Australia as first peoples of Country or Place and demonstrate resilience in responding to historic and contemporary impacts of colonisation.



The broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies encompass a diversity of nations across Australia.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples' family and kinship structures are strong and sophisticated.


The significant contributions of Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the present and past are acknowledged locally, nationally and globally.

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS):

Australian Curriculum Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages:

DECS/Adnyamathanha Community. 2005. Adnyamathanha Handbook. Adelaide: Department of Education and Children’s Services.

DECS. 2004. Adnyamathanha years R to 10: a teaching framework for revival and second language learning in years reception to ten. Adelaide. Dept. of Education and Children's Services. (This material is available at the State Library of South Australia and other libraries in Adelaide.)

First Languages Australia:

(Includes a map of Language Centres and programs to help locate organisations in regions across Australia).

Information about the South Australia Department for Education Innovative Language Grant:

Leigh Creek Area School website:

Mobile Language Team:

Tunbridge, D. 1987. Aboriginal place names. Australian Aboriginal Studies 2: pp. 2-13. (This material is available at the State Library of South Australia.)

Tunbridge, D. 1988. Flinders Ranges Dreaming. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press. (This material is available at the State Library of South Australia, Barr Smith and other libraries in Adelaide.)

Tunbridge, D. 1988. Affixes of motion and direction in Adnyamathanha. In Complex sentence constructions in Australian languages / edited by Peter Austin - Amsterdam; John Benjamins: pp 267-283. (This material is available at the State Library of South Australia, Barr Smith and other libraries in Adelaide.)

Adnyamathanha word


Adnyamathanha Peoples

The Adnyamathanha Peoples are made up of several traditional groups of the Northern Flinders Ranges and areas around Lake Torrens. The name ‘Adnyamathanha’ means ‘Rock People.’


The shared, cultural and linguistic identity and knowledge inherited from ancestors which forms a common bond. Muda is passed on in the form of creation stories from generation to generation in a long held oral tradition. The Adnyamathanha Peoples generally refer to this as History. The Muda teaches social customs and rules, explains and maps geographical knowledge, contains environmental understandings and is a focal point for community identity.


One of two parts into which society is divided based on descent from the mother or father. In Aboriginal societies and Torres Strait Islander societies, moieties describe systems of kin relationships and behaviours between people and may also include parts of the natural world.


Adnyamathanha person

Yura Ngawarla

Adnyamathanha language (being Adnyamathanha for "our speech"). Adnyamathanha is a member of the Thura-Yura language family and the only one which still has fluent Aboriginal speakers.


Non-Aboriginal person


Adnyamathanha Peoples believe the land was shaped by giant serpents of the two moieties.

Arrunha Awi

Aroona water (Dam)




Greeting- hello, how are you?


Yes, that’s right


Aboriginal Community Education Officer

Reclaim, revive, renew, rebuild, reconstruct, construct, develop languages

Terms used generally and interchangeably with respect to Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages to refer to language processes and language programs developed in contexts of historical language loss, and located mainly in the Language Revival Learner Pathway (LR). In the Framework, revive, revitalise, renew and reclaim take on particular language and program activity meanings.

Language Revival

A planned response designed to counter histories of language loss. Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages are being revived through community initiatives, school programs and linguistic research.

In the illustration of practice:

What are the goals of the Adnyamathanha Language program?

How did the school identify and engage with a range of stakeholders in the development of their language program? 

What are the benefits of the language program for the students, school and community?

How is the school using and adapting the AC: Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages Framework in their planning and implementation?

Why is learning on Country important?

How does the school cater for all learners?

In your school context:

How could you implement an Aboriginal Languages or Torres Strait Islander Languages program in your context?

Which Curriculum pathway (LR, L1, L2) would be the most appropriate for your school and community context?

What requirements would the school and the community need to negotiate? How would the consultation and engagement processes establish the foundation for the language program?

Identify how an Aboriginal Languages or Torres Strait Islander Languages program would benefit your students, school and community. 

Identify a process to review the initial program goals and measure growth and success.

ACARA acknowledges that the filming for this illustration of practice took place on the traditional land, sea, sky and waterways of the Adnyamathanha Peoples. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the videos in this Illustration of Practice may contain images and voices of deceased persons.

ACARA would like to thank:

  • The Adnyamathanha Community and Elders from Leigh Creek, Copley and Nepabunna
  • Leigh Creek Area School
  • The Leigh Creek Community
  • Aunty Gladys Wilton and Aunty Linda Coulthard for the soundtrack contribution
  • The Mobile Language Team for providing the drone footage
  • The Commonwealth Government for funding this Illustration of Practice through the Endeavour Language Teachers Fellowship



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