Saybaylgaw Yangu Wakay
The voice of Saibai People
The project is owned and driven by the Saibai diaspora communities of Bamaga and Seisia, whose artists and storytellers determine the way stories and knowledge is stored, shared, and disseminated. The team develops workshops and resources with creative practitioners through sharing skills and industry expertise. The project is supported through the Australian Government’s Indigenous Languages and Arts program since 2020.
UNESCO lists the KKY language as critically endangered, with only a handful of fluent speakers within the Bamaga and Seisia communities surviving today. KKY language and cultural identity are inseparable, and is pivotal in maintaining the rich song, dance, ceremonial, and daily practices which sustain these Diaspora communities. KKY language embodies kinship and connects people spiritually to the land, sea, and sky, creating a force which heals, empowers, and strengthens people and country.
The diaspora communities of Bamaga and Seisia are some of the earliest climate refugees, being forced to leave Saibai Island in 1948 when seawater inundated their fresh water supply. The Island is now circled by a concrete seawall to protect the Island, a tangible reminder of the real threat posed by warming oceans and rising oceans.
Aerial view of Seisia. Photo by Murray Vanderveer.
Our language program team
Jeffrey Aniba Waia
Jeffery is from Saibai, and is a renowned dancer, artist, and teacher. He provided the cultural content for the Mura Gubal Gedira cross-cultural project, which has become well-known in the Torres Strait and Education Department. Jeffery speaks his own language Kala Kawau Ya (KKY), as well as Torres Strait Creole and English, and is widely known as being a cultural ambassador.
Jensen is a KKY linguist formerly from Saibai, now residing in Alice Springs and is widely regarded as an authority on the formal aspects of the KKY language. Jensen is a former Bangarra dancer and has classroom and on-country teaching skills which are an asset for language teaching. Jensen is a fluent KKY speaker, and is committed to the maintenance, revitalisation and preservation of Saibai language and culture.
Dr Andrew Belletty has a distinguished career spanning 30 years within Film, Television and Radio, and spent six years as a Senior Lecturer with the Australian Film, Television and Radio School in Sydney. Andrew is a founding member of the iconic Aboriginal Band Yothu Yindi, and has toured and conducted workshops in hundreds of Indigenous communities across Australia. Andrew undertakes a wide range of programs with Indigenous artists and musicians and mentors Indigenous students at Sydney University.
Beverley is a community leader in Bamaga and has extensive experience delivering arts and education projects. Beverly works at QLD TAFE Bamaga and has served on various committees, boards councils and community organisations in the Torres Strait and Bamaga. Beverley has vast experience working with Bamaga and Seisia communities particularly in relation to health and education for women and children.
Vincent lives in Seisia and is a Torres Strait Islander Australian who was born on Thursday Island and grew up in Seisia, in the Northern peninsular Area. His family is from the eastern side of Saibai Island, where the Sagar wind blows, from the Star E Constellation seen before the morning star. Vincent’s art tells the stories from the seven clans of Saibai Island, and focuses on the crocodile clan, Ait Koedal.
Robert Poi Poi
Robert the Chairperson of Bamaga Enterprises and is a community leader in Bamaga and has extensive logistic and financial experience delivering arts and infrastructure projects.
Video Post Production
Glen is a filmmaker and writer who lives in Brisbane and has worked for many years with Sharing Stories Foundation, developing video resources for Indigenous communities. Glen is an expert at creating bilingual subtitles for language video resources and works on country to ensure accuracy and authenticity.
Video Production Mentor
Murray is an award-winning photographer and videographer, representing his work in the National Portrait Gallery and the NSW Art Gallery. He has worked extensively for Govt agencies and the advertising industry producing content for press, web and broadcast media of the highest quality. Murray taught for many years at the ACP. This work with Macquarie Uni has led his career toward documentary filmmaking. He is a fully qualified drone pilot, and his skills include video editing and producing motion graphics.
Web designer / photographer
Dylan has over 20 years of experience in visual communications, and a background in teaching and environmental campaigning. Dylan supports a client base of not-for-profits and ethical businesses, providing digital and print services, graphic design, web design and photography.