Denise Smith-Ali


2014 WA Local Hero

A Noongar woman from the south west of Western Australia, Denise Smith-Ali is the custodian of two clans, Kaneang and Wilman of the Noongar Nation.  Denise has overcome many challenges to become the only Noongar linguist in Australia, and has dedicated her life to reclaiming and reviving the language of the Noongar people.  Denise has always been interested in her culture and language.  Her early focus on educating young people and engaging them in their linguistic roots has shifted to documenting creation and ancestral stories that relate to country.  Today, Denise produces resources to support Noongar language education in traditional and contemporary contexts, records and documents ancestral language and knowledge, and supports community awareness programs.  She is also working on a cultural mapping project using Google Earth.  Without Denise‚Äôs contribution, the Noongar language may no longer be active.  Denise not only volunteers with the Noongar community in Perth, she donates her time and expertise to Aboriginal language communities throughout Australia, helping them to keep their languages alive.