The MDWg Team
MDWg is made up of a dedicated team of Language Workers, linguists, Elders, consultants, admin and management staff. We work in a multicultural environment and aim to increase the use of Miriwoong language wherever possible. Scroll down to read a brief bio of the people that make up MDWg.
Management and Board
BRIAN GALLAGHER – Chairperson
BRIAN GALLAGHER has been working at MDWg since 2017. He was elected Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Mirima Council Aboriginal Corporation in 2020. He is proud of his language and is happy to be working here with the team and the elders. He likes preparing materials and presenting classes, radio recordings, and assisting with his technology skills. He is a confident teacher, and enjoys learning new skills, working in a team, and sharing knowledge.
DAVID NEWRY- Director
DAVID NEWRY has played a crucial role in establishing the work of Mirima Council since the 1990s and was the chair of the organisation for over two decades. He was instrumental in developing the work of the Kimberley Interpreting Service in 2000, after initiating a feasibility study regarding the need for interpreting in the health and justice sectors. David also helped in founding a range of further Aboriginal organisations now operating successfully in Kununurra. He is the Senior Language and Culture Consultant and main presenter of the cultural awareness program at MDWg. Among his many achievements in working with the Language Centre, David has been the key figure in developing the Miriwoong Seasonal Calendar. This resource links Miriwoong language and culture with the land of past, present and future generations. In recognition of his skills as a language and cultural mentor for the community, he was recognised for his Outstanding Individual Contribution to Arts and Culture by the East Kimberley Aboriginal Achievement Awards in 2011.
KNUT J. (“KJ”) OLAWSKY- Senior Linguist/Manager
KNUT J. (“KJ”) OLAWSKY has been the Senior Linguist and Manager at the MDWg since 2005. He works with the Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng people to preserve and revitalise their traditional languages and cultures. Operating in close partnership with a governing committee of traditional Elders, Knut has initiated a range of strategies for Miriwoong language revitalisation, some of which have been highly innovative for Australia. His efforts in helping to maintain and revitalise the Miriwoong language include initiatives such as the start of a Master-Apprentice program, Miriwoong Language Nest and other activities. In his role as a linguist, Knut has published grammars of Indigenous languages from Ghana and Peru. He is currently working with team members to describe the grammar of Miriwoong. Knut holds an MA and a PhD from Duesseldorf University (Germany) and has previously held postdoctoral positions at the University of California at Berkeley (USA) and the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology (La Trobe University, Melbourne).
KIRSTY WAGER- Management Support Officer
KIRSTY WAGER has a keen interest in history, languages, anthropology, literature, culture and psychology. She loves people and is passionate about seeing them reach their potential. With a BA (English, French, History) from the University of Western Australia, a 4-year BMin (Youth Ministry) from Perth Bible College, and an MA (Ministry) from Vose Seminary (focusing on group dynamics and management), Kirsty is bi-vocational: working as the Management Support Officer at MDWg and pastoring Kununurra Baptist Fellowship along with her husband, David. She finds it a great privilege to be able to assist the Board and Management of MDWg and so support the Miriwoong people in their efforts to revitalise their language and culture.
Elders and Linguists
AGNES ARMSTRONG- Miriwoong Elder
AGNES ARMSTRONG is a renowned artist with the Waringarri Arts Centre as well as a major contributor to many of MDWg’s activities. She supports Miriwoong language revitalisation by functioning as a language consultant, attending field trips and conducting welcome addresses. In addition to her invaluable language work, Agnes also sits as the Vice-Chair of Mirima Council.
MAGGIE JOHN- Miriwoong Elder
PAULINA GALBAT- Miriwoong Elder
MINNIE LUMIA- Miriwoong Elder
FRANCES KOFOD- Project Linguist
FRANCES KOFOD has been involved in many projects to do with language and culture in the East Kimberley during the past forty years, including extensive work with all Jarragan languages (Miriwoong, Gajirrabeng, and Gija). She came to Kununurra in the 1970s to record Miriwoong language for the University of New England. Frances completed a description of Miriwoong grammar as an MA Honours thesis in 1978. She also recorded Gajirrabeng at the request of senior speakers. In 1989 she assisted the Mirima Council in setting up Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring Language and Culture Centre (MDWg). Frances still works part-time for MDWg, assisting with the Miriwoong Master-Apprentice program and working on grammar, dictionary and traditional ecological knowledge projects. Since 2009, after completion of a community dictionary with Miriwoong people she has been working with other linguists on the Miriwoong Grammar project with a focus on the vastly complex system of Miriwoong verbs.
Miriwoong Language Engagement Officers
GLENNIS GALBAT-NEWRY is a Miriwoong woman who has been working with MDWg for many years. She first worked for MDWg in 1998 for four years and then resumed her work in 2006. Her role as a Language Worker entails a variety of tasks and has a focus on language transmission to following generations. Glennis is the author of two children’s books on Miriwoong animals. She has also completed training as an interpreter and trainer for the Master-Apprentice language learning model. Glennis is constantly improving her skills in teaching her own endangered language to children and young adults and also teaches Miriwoong as part of MDWg’s public language class. She has also been an active member of the consultant group for the development of the Miriwoong Seasonal Calendar. This resource functions as an important tool for land management by the Miriwoong people. She strongly feels that her traditional language is a crucial element in looking after country.
Since joining MDWg’s Language Nest team in 2015, Rozanne has worked tirelessly to increase her language proficiency and to develop professionally. In 2016, Rozanne completed a Certificate III in Aboriginal Languages for Communities and Workplaces. Additionally, Rozanne recently commenced training with the aim to become a qualified language teacher with a limited authority to teach. She demonstrates a strong commitment to Miriwoong language revitalisation and is an indispensable member of the Language Nest team.
DIANNE DINGLE joined MDWg in 2016 with her sister Barbara, and quickly settled in to be a valued member of the Language Nest team. She has found great personal joy in reconnecting with her proud Miriwoong heritage. Dianne is excited to be helping young children grow up with an understanding of Miriwoong language and culture. Dianne’s passion and enthusiasm has helped her learn quickly and she hopes to continue to work closely with Elders in order to become a leader in the community.
SYLVIA SIMON commenced her role as a Language Worker in 2013. In April 2017, Sylvia published a book entitled ‘Jigeng’, about Miriwoong birds. The book contains her own drawings and sentences to describe the native birds of the area. Sylvia enjoys working independently whilst also being part of a team. She supports the regular radio programs in Miriwoong and sometimes engages with the Language Nest team to deliver sessions.
ANGELA DINGLE joined her sister Dianne at MDWg in 2018. She soon became a dependable and valued member of the Language Nest team. Like her sister, Angie loves teaching children, and is excited to be helping young children grow up with an understanding of Miriwoong language and culture.
Magdalene joined the Language Nest in Term 1, 2020 and is a confident teacher of older-year level classes. She is passionate about a career in Aboriginal language teaching and was accepted into Aboriginal Languages Teacher Training Course. Maggie will be deferring her studies until 2022 as she is expecting her first child mid next year!
Melati is the newest member off the Language Nest team, having joined in October 2020. She has proven to be an incredibly quick learner and a natural in the classroom. After just 6 weeks at the Language Centre, Melati learnt a significant amount of the younger year level curriculum and is now learning to prepare lessons for older year-level students.
KATE CHARLWOOD – Language Nest Facilitator
Kate started at Mirima as Special Intern in the Language Nest in August 2018, and became the Language Nest Facilitator in October 2019. Having graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours in Linguistics) she is excited to be working in the field that attracted her to linguistics in the first place. Kate supports the Language Nest in developing their language and teaching skills and is thrilled to be working with such an inspiring team of women that work day in, day out to preserve and strengthen Miriwoong language.
JIMMY PADDY is a Miriwoong/Gajirrabeng man from Kununurra (Western Australia). He has been a Language Worker with Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring (MDWg) for more than 7 years. Jimmy specialises in the preparation of language teaching materials as well as teaching language classes for Indigenous boys. He has a strong interest in using technology for language revitalisation. Jimmy has been working in video and audio editing, slideshows and database software to create language resources.
SOPHIE HOGARTH – Language Services Facilitator
Miriwoong Language Resource Officers
BRYAN GALLAGHER has been working at MDWg since 2017. He is proud of his language and is happy to be working here with the team and the elders. He likes preparing materials and presenting classes, radio recordings, and assisting with his technology skills. He is a confident teacher, and enjoys learning new skills, working in a team, and sharing knowledge.
GEORGE BRITCHFORD – Trainer
GEORGE BRITCHFORD is a Project Linguist, with a current focus on Training at MDWg. He graduated with a BA in Linguistics and Translating from the University of Queensland and has been working with MDWg on projects since 2016. He worked as an Intern in 2016-2017, then returned to work on the Modern Miriwoong Project in 2017-2018. Next, George worked closely with our team on developing an advanced Miriwoong language App. George also worked on a number of other classes including the Miriwoong Public Language Class, The Miriwoong after School Program “Bright Futures”, and Language Training for other organisations in town, before taking on his current role of Trainer. George is committed to seeing a greater visibility of the Miriwoong Language both around the town of Kununurra, as well as online.
EMILY GREF- Publications Officer
EMILY GREF is a publishing professional primarily interested in creating books and resources for minority language communities. She holds an MA in Language Documentation and Description from SOAS, University of London. Currently she is acting as a remote publications officer for MDWg. Visit https://emilygref.com/ for more information about her work.