Rediscovering the Palawa Language: Jodie Dowd

Unique treasures from the past can be uncovered through collections that are donated to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), which is exactly what happened for Jodie Dowd who works in our Collections area.

Part of Jodie’s job is to locate priority items that will eventually become part of the AIATSIS Collection. These include language material, community histories of people and groups, autobiographies and thesis.

Jodie excitedly recalls how she located a language book on the Palawa people amongst the collection donated by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) when it was dismantled in 2004.  

After searching through the AIATSIS Collection and the Library of Australia Collection, Jodie discovered that it was not in either organisation’s catalogue. You can imagine Jodie’s surprise and excitement:

“It was so wonderful discovering this book – language books are rare and now that we know it’s here the Palawa community will be able to access and use it,” Jodie said.

“Finding these previously unknown pieces of history is significant in the work that we do at AIATSIS, and is extremely rewarding.”

About Jodie

Jodie is descended from the Noongar people in Western Australia and joined AIATSIS in January 2014 as a member of the Step Up Program.

Step Up, as the name suggests is a program designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to gain skills in Indigenous research and archives management while undertaking fulltime study. Currently Jodie is studying for a Diploma of Library and Information Studies

For Jodie, the thought of coming to AIATSIS which has the world’s largest collections of printed and other resource materials for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies was both challenging and exciting.

Jodie has worked at cultural heritage organisations such as the Koorie Heritage Trust, Western Australia Museum, Melbourne Museum and Cooks Cottage in Collections and Interpretation.

Jodie’s ultimate career goal is to assist Aboriginal communities in managing their cultural heritage especially in the areas of preservation, access and interpretation.

You might also be interested in AUSTLANG, a database of information about Indigenous Australian languages with links to Google maps.

Last reviewed: 11 Sep 2015