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Partnership with SBS, WIRES improves wildlife knowledge and English

By Fiona West | September 7, 2022
The Living with Aussie Wildlife series was launched at Navitas Skilled Futures Fairfield on National Threatened Species Day.

Do you know what to do if a snake slithers into your garden, or how to protect our endangered koalas? Coinciding with National Threatened Species Day (7 September), SBS Learn English, in partnership with Navitas Skilled Futures and WIRES, has released its second digital video series designed to help new Australian migrants improve their English language skills – with the added bonus of learning how to live with snakes, koalas and other wildlife common to their new home environment.

SBS News presenter Virginia Langeberg with WIRES volunteer Morgan Philpott and one of the native animals featuring in the series – the koala.

The Living with Aussie Wildlife series, voiced by SBS News presenter Virginia Langeberg over 10x three-minute episodes, was developed to help the 872,000 Australians who self-reported to have no or low English proficiency. Featuring in-language support and employing content-centred learning techniques, the videos target migrants with a pre-intermediate level of English language skills who want to build on their abilities and knowledge of Australian culture. 

SBS Director of Audio and Language Content, David Hua, said: “For many new migrants, Australia’s unique wildlife can be fascinating and sometimes even frightening when encountered for the first time. Understanding Aussie wildlife is part of understanding Aussie culture and succeeding in a new environment. The SBS Learn English Living with Aussie Wildlife series helps our diverse audiences learn about common Australian animals and improve their English at the same time . 

“As Australia’s multicultural and multilingual broadcaster, SBS is committed to working with industry to positively impact and reach new Australian migrants wherever they are, and we are thrilled to collaborate with both Navitas Skilled Futures and WIRES on this project.” 

Navitas Skilled Futures students loved providing input and feedback to the series, launched today at Fairfield.

Each Living with Aussie Wildlife episode has a companion student worksheet developed in collaboration with Navitas Skilled Futures which was trialled in classrooms with their teachers and students to help refine content and optimise user experience. The series is captioned in English and sub-titled in five languages – Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Korean and Vietnamese – to further assist audiences with understanding and learning. 

Navitas Skilled Futures General Manager, Jetinder Macfarlane, said: “We are delighted to partner with SBS and WIRES to deliver this unique project that educates people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in an engaging way, while improving their English language skills.

“Navitas Skilled Futures is proud to be able to share our innovative learning practices with a wider audience through the SBS network. This is just one shining example of great collaborative work being done to bring positive outcomes to our diverse communities.” 

The series was also developed in collaboration with WIRES to ensure accurate and easy-to-understand information about the 10 animals featured – snakes, possums, kookaburras, koalas, spiders, parrots, magpies, lizards, waterbirds and flying foxes. These species were carefully chosen as the ones people are most likely to encounter in their everyday lives, with the videos further teaching new migrants important knowledge about the broader Australian ecosystem. 

Wires volunteer Luke Williams, from the Bundjalung tribe in northern coastal NSW, spoke to students about animal rescue work and volunteering.

WIRES CEO, Leanne Taylor, said: “This much-needed native wildlife initiative introduces Australian newcomers to the amazing animals that live in our city and rural environments, sharing the simple message that we can all live happily alongside each other.

“WIRES hopes to encourage people from all backgrounds to consider volunteering with their local wildlife rescue groups to help raise and rehabilitate orphaned, injured and displaced native animals so they can be released back into their natural habitats where they belong.” 

All 10 episodes are available now on the SBS Learn English website and will feature across SBS social media channels, including WeChat and Weibo. Watch here. Downloadable educational worksheets are also available for each video.

A free service across platforms, SBS Learn English was launched in June 2022 as an expansion of the SBS Settlement Guide, helping migrants to be more successful in Australia. 

Proud partners (L-R): Janine Googan, SBS; David Mitchell, NSF; Luke Williams, WIRES; and Michael Cox, NSF.

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