Patji-Dawes Award

The purpose of the Patji-Dawes award is to honour outstanding achievements in teaching languages other than English by an accomplished practitioner in Australia. We believe that achieving proficiency in other languages is one of the great learning experiences in the human condition. This happens all too rarely in contemporary Australian society. There is unfilled need for public recognition of those who demonstrate that monolingualism is curable!

The teaching may take place in any setting – school, university, private language school, government department, Indigenous community. What matters is that the learner is led, by the teacher’s inspiration, to a high level of mastery in the chosen language.

We seek nominations from those who've achieved a very high level of fluency in their chosen language. If you would like to honour your teacher, we ask that you tell us (and the world) what it was about their practice that inspired and enabled you to unlock the rewards of learning another language despite all the difficulties involved.

Lt William Dawes journalAbout the name

The name of the award commemorates the teaching-learning partnership which underlay the earliest documented language learning in Australia’s history: that between a young Indigenous woman, Patyegarang (Patye or Patji, pronounced Pat-che), and Lieutenant William Dawes. Their close and humane relationship, resulted not only in an exceptional mastery of the Sydney language by Dawes, but in a relationship of cross-cultural understanding that has been all too rare in Australia’s history.

The award and ceremony

The award will include a certificate, small cash prize, an airfare and accommodation for both the prize-winner and their nominator to attend the award ceremony. In 2019, this will occur at the International Languages Conference of the Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations (AFMLTA) which will be held in Hobart on 7-9 July. 

Since a major goal of the award is to further public awareness of what makes for inspiring and effective language teaching and learning, both the nominee (the teacher) and the nominator (the pupil) will be asked to make a short address of about five minutes. For the teacher, this may include their philosophy and practice of language teaching, and their love of the relevant language, and for the pupil, what was most effective in how their teacher imparted the language and its culture, and what they have gained from learning it.

Recordings and/or transcripts of these two addresses will be placed online on our website to form an evolving portfolio of success stories in language teaching and learning.

Nomination process 

A nomination consists of three parts:

(a) A form requesting basic details including name, address and position/professional details of the nominee and the nominator (the nominee must be an Australian citizen)

(b) A short account by the nominator (at most one page, plus supporting documentary evidence where useful) demonstrating that they have accomplished a high level of competence in the relevant language
(c) A short account by the nominator (up to two pages) of what made the teacher so inspiring and effective in helping them to learn the designated language.

Deadline for submission of nominations: 18 March 2019

Award announced: 7 May 2019 

Award conferred: 7-9 July 2019 


The jury

The jury is made up of outstanding practitioners in the field of language teaching, learning and language study, with rolling membership from year to year. In 2019, the judges will include:

  • Professor Anne-Marie Morgan (President of the Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations) 
  • Lia Tedesco (Principal of the SA School of Languages)
  • Professor Jean Fornasiero (President of the Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities)
  • Dr John Giacon (winner of the 2017 Patji-Dawes Award)
  • Professor Lesley Harbon (Head of School, International Studies and Education, UTS)
  • Professor Michael Christie (Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University).


The Patji-Dawes award is an initiative of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language  through its Outreach program, which includes a commitment to improving levels of multilingualism and mastery of other languages in Australia through understanding and public debate on how we learn (and teach) second and other languages most effectively. We appreciate the ongoing support of the Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations and the Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities.


  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University