“Ngketya Nwernaka Ilkerta Mparetyeka” (Making Our Language Strong): Pertame Master-Apprentice Project (MAP)

Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

Supported beneficiary groups within Women & Girls
Age Demographic
Varied Ages
Project Focus
Project Area

Project Description

The Pertame Master-Apprentice Program (MAP) is an Indigenous community-led project that seeks to grow the next generation of Pertame speakers while nurturing a prosperous community through strong cultures and identities.

The Pertame MAP focusses on uplifting all generations of Pertame women and girls, creating a space for our Pertame Grandmothers to pass their knowledge, culture and responsibilities onto their daughters, grand daughter and great-grand daughters.

Pertame is a critically endangered Central Australian language. There are less than 10 fluent speakers of Pertame, all within the grandparent generation. Without serious action, Pertame language will be lost within the next generation. Pertame is an ancient and rich language, carrying 60,000+ years of history, heritage, knowledge of country and a unique perspective of the world. Speaking language has deep and enduring benefits on the mental, spiritual and physical health and wellbeing of Aboriginal women and children.

MAPs are a world-leading method of Indigenous language revival developed by Native American communities. MAPs rapidly grow new fluent speakers, through intensive oral immersion sessions with elder speakers (the master) and adult learners (apprentices). The methodology emulates how infants first acquire language naturally from their family & home environment. The Pertame MAP seeks to professionally develop three female apprentices into fluent language teachers, linguists and community leaders.

Expected Outcomes

Goals of the Pertame MAP:
- 3 female apprentices are completely fluent in Pertame within 12 months
- The program provides intergenerational learning and knowledge transfer between the five generations of Pertame women
- Pertame women are brought together to grow strong community support networkds
- Our female Apprentices became community leaders and role models within their teaching positions
- Language revival supports Pertame women and girls to build strong identities to increase self-esteem and cultural pride
- The female apprentices gain work experience, skill development and new qualifications within education, language work, linguistics and use of technology. Activities:
- Immerse 3 female apprentices in Pertame for 15-20 hours a week through MAP sessions with Elder speaker and Matriarch, Christobel Swan
- Apprentices teach weekly children's classes at Bradshaw Primary, weekly community classes for Pertame mother's and run four school holiday programs for Pertame families.
- Apprentices will produce online language learning videos
- Conduct 6 on-country apprentice immersion camps
- Employ one female full-time Pertame Project officer, three part-time female apprentices and one female Elder at the Batchelor Institute
- Support three apprentices to undertake a Cert I in ATSI Language and Knowledge Work through Batchelor
- Pertame apprentices and children host information stalls and language performances Alice Springs events

Project Data & Lessons

Pertame young person, Vanessa Farrelly, is currently employed by the Batchelor Institute to project manage the Pertame MAP and conduct her Masters through Batchelor’s Post Graduate program to monitor and evaluate the successes, lessons and methods of the project. This Masters project will uphold Indigenous research methodologies and leadership, to ensure the voices of Pertame women are heard on our language revival journey.

The Pertame MAP will constantly seek media opportunities, and share our project experiences at relevant conferences and events. Our Project has already been featured on SBS, ABC, NITV, ICTV, NT News, Alice Springs News, Territory Q, Centralian Advocate and Borderlands. The Pertame MAP team has presented about our Pertame MAP at Batchelor Institute’s seminar series on Indigenous knowledge (which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-gUgHnL2pk). The Pertame MAP team will also be presenting at the Knowledge Intersections Symposium 2021 hosted by Batchelor Institute, CDU and the Desert Research Institute, as well as present at the 2021 AIATSIS Summit National Indigenous Research Conference.

Additionally, The Pertame MAP has also entered into a collaboration with First Languages Australia to collate data about the Pertame Master Apprentice Program for public distribution, so that other Indigenous communities may be able gain a sufficient understanding of the program so as to replicate the activity in a way that suits their needs.

Project Dates

Project Commences: June 1, 2021
Project Completes: June 1, 2022

Funding Details

Funding Needed
Current Funding
Total Project Costs
Approved Tax Deductability Status
Approved Tax Concession Charity
Other Funding Sources
Regional Arts Fund NT (Confirmed) - $4000 , 7th Generation Foundation Indigenous Peoples Fund (Confirmed) - $16,308, First Languages Australia (Confirmed) - $10,000, Batchelor Institute Salary for Project Officer (Confirmed) - $10,4922, Left over funds from 2020 (Confirmed) - $36,000, Fouress Foundation (Unconfirmed) - $30,000
Other Support Opportunities
Impact investment, In-kind contributions, Low-interest or no-interest loans, Pro bono services

Organisation Details

Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education
ABN: 32 039 179 166


Vanessa Farrelly
Phone: 0421478262

About Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

Batchelor Institute is the only First Nations dual sector tertiary education provider in Australia. The Centre for Australian Languages and Linguistics (CALL) is a language centre based in the Division of Higher Education and Research at Batchelor Institute. CALL provides a service to community teams, supporting their work on language projects. The Pertame School is a community-led language program working with Pertame Elders to pass their language and cultural knowledge down to the next generation. Pertame School’s vision is to grow the next generation of Pertame speakers within a strong, connected and thriving Pertame community to honour the culture and worldview of our old people. Pertame School seeded in 2017 after receiving a philanthropic donation to run a series of on-country language camps for the Pertame community at Boomerang Bore homelands. Since 2017, the Pertame School has grown to include school holiday programs for children, in-school classes, adults’ evening classes and a master-apprentice program. The Pertame School runs as a project through CALL within Batchelor Institute’s Research Division. Batchelor Institute manages the project’s finances and provides classrooms, office space and vehicles. CALL provides support and advice to the Pertame project. All CALL language projects are required to self-fund through grants and philanthropic donations and are not supported by Batchelor Institute core funding.

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