At the Ngukurr Store the other day (in Southern Arnhem Land), a local woman who I refer to as sister-in-law served me and alerted me to the signs on the noticeboard outside that had been graffitied on. Good tip! I went and looked and found this:

It’s a nice sign in that it’s offering decent paid work to local people. It’s not so nice in that it’s part of a Federal government program that I find problematic. It’s part of NT Senator Nigel Scullion’s $46 million scheme to employ an army of attendance officers (now as many as 500) in remote communities to increase attendance rates. I mean, sure, increasing attendance is bloody important but I do think that they could use some of that $46 million for actual education programs that improve education delivery and make school attractive. For example bilingual education which still no-one in government wants to touch despite it being globally recognised as effective and recommended by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (see Recommendation 14).

Looks like at least one Kriol-speaking Ngukurr resident isn’t a big fan of Scullion’s attendance minions either. (Kriol is the English-based creole spoken across a large part of Northern Australia). In red pen at the bottom of the sign they’ve written:

they darli-but you-ma liar

In standard Kriol spelling (which few people know because the school daren’t teach their students how to read and write the language they think in and speak at home) they’ve written:

thei dalimbat yumob laiya

which translates to English as:

they’re telling you lies

Tee hee. Oh and a party pooper has since scribbled over it.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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