The West Australian’s Indigenous front page draws plaudits from the nation’s highest office

Headshot of Tim Clarke
Tim ClarkeThe West Australian
Anthony Albanese has led the chorus of praise for The West's front page featuring a bilingual Noongar/English translation.
Camera IconAnthony Albanese has led the chorus of praise for The West's front page featuring a bilingual Noongar/English translation. Credit: The West Australian

Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has led the chorus of praise for The West Australian’s history-making bilingual Noongar-English front page, which marked the start of National Reconciliation Week 2022.

At the forefront of The West’s special Reconciliation Week wrap on Friday, the front page featured an exclusive interview with Mr Albanese — with the headline and lead paragraph translated into Noongar by linguist Alison Nannup.

Despite his hectic schedule since winning the Federal election last Saturday, Mr Albanese took to Twitter to express his admiration for the editorial decision.

“I have been in the papers a lot this week, but this one is particularly special to me: the first Noongar-English bilingual edition of The West Australian for Reconciliation Week,” he wrote.

He was joined by Federal and State political colleagues, leading Indigenous voices, journalists, academics, business leaders — and thousands of readers — who commended the ground-breaking initiative.

“How fantastic,” wrote leading Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek. Former State treasurer Ben Wyatt described the front page as “spectacular”.

“Reconciliation Week has become one of the nation’s great events. Diverse, interesting, celebratory and eye-opening,” he said.

ABC political commentator Annabel Crabb described the front page as a “Noongar takeover”.

And the page was lauded and shared by Australia’s first indigenous Olympic gold medallist, Nova Peris.

Social media action saw the front page retweeted and shared hundreds of times, and attracting tens of thousands of comments — almost all of them in favour — and some calling for it to be regularly repeated.

Reconciliation WA co-chairs Carol Innes and Gary Smith both said the use of the Noongar language so prominently was brave and powerful.

“What a demonstration of Be Brave, Make Change . . . acknowledging all the Elders and ancestors who were forbidden to speak our native tongue and to all those who are still currently learning,” Ms Innes said.

In the editorial which accompanied the front page, editor-in-chief Anthony de Ceglie explained the thinking behind the move.

“Part of Reconciliation Week is about truth-telling, and the truth is that while we live on Indigenous lands, very few of us know any Indigenous language — and if we happen to see dual signage we merely drive on by,” the editorial explained.

“But this is changing. It is now up to all of us to accept and to do our part to be brave. And to make the change.”

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