Australian National University academic and Christian Brother Dr John Giacon has won the Patji-Dawes award, Australia's premier award for language teaching.
Dr Giacon researches and teaches Gamilaraay, the traditional language over a large area of north central NSW and Queensland. He has been recognised for being untiring in his efforts to promote the teaching of Indigenous languages at universities, and to involve the traditional owners of Gamilaraay in the revitalisation and teaching of Gamilaraay.
"John's relationship with the Gamilaraay people began not as a linguist but as a teacher who was concerned for the well-being of Indigenous people," Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language at ANU Professor Nick Evans.
"He gradually came to realise how much growing back the language is part of healing the terrible wounds of the past. Whenever possible he has tried to do this by employing old recordings to let the voices of elders now departed be heard in the classroom. But he has also been ingenious in filling in gaps in our knowledge by drawing on knowledge of the closely-related language Yuwaalaraay material."
(Photo of Dr Giacon from ANU used with permission)