As part of the University’s Commitment Wall initiative, Roxanne Missingham, University Librarian and Chief Scholarly Information Officer, pledged to learn the Ngunnawal language and to share that with colleagues at the University.
Almost a year on, Roxanne reflects on her Reconciliation journey.
“Words are very important to me, perhaps unsurprisingly as I am a librarian! They are vital to tell stories, communicate knowledge and bring communities together,” Roxanne says.
Roxanne shares a compilation of new words and phrases from the Ngunnawal language in a fortnightly newsletter she sends to all staff in her division as well as around the University.
“The loss of language is tragic and I wanted to be a small part in bringing the language of our local Indigenous community to life.”
Through taking the time to learn the Ngunnawal language, Roxanne has learnt to listen and to look at the Ngunnawal region of southern New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory in a different light.
“I have learnt in a small way how the Indigenous people in this region see their lives and the world around them,” Roxanne says.
Under her leadership, Roxanne is proud to have displayed the word Yumalundi, meaning welcome in Ngunnawal language, on the front doors of Chifley Library, a clear sign that the library stands as one with Australia’s Indigenous people.
In honour of National Reconciliation Week (NRW), the library has also opened a new exhibition and released a new guide to the Indigenous material in the collection.
It is Roxanne’s hope the ANU community will continue to work on understanding Indigenous knowledge and incorporate that into how they approach life and their environment.
“When they enter our buildings, I hope that there is recognition that expressing the words of welcome in Ngunnawal language is just the beginning of developing a deeper understanding of Indigenous communities and changes that we need to make in how we understand our world,” Roxanne says.
Over the next three years, Roxanne commits to digitise the library’s audio-visual records of Australian Indigenous people and their stories and preserve them for future generations.
Echoing the theme of this year’s NRW, ‘Be Brave. Make Change.’, Roxanne supports the importance of this stance in the ways we learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements. And she is doing just that.
This NRW, Roxanne encourages the ANU community to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia – in which learning and respecting language is a vital first step.