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Restoring Indigenous languages

For SBS by Murray Silby

From an estimated 250 Indigenous languages at the time of European settlement, only about 20 are now widely spoken in Australia.

But where governments once ordered that the languages not be spoken, they are now funding their revival.

Whether the restoration efforts are enough for widespread revitalisation of the languages is yet to be seen, but Indigenous workers in the field say the seeds of success are beginning to germinate.

Read the full article and listen to the podcast

Australia's Got Language

First Languages Australia was delighted to be part of Puliima again this year. It is always an important event bringing people together from around Australia and beyond to share and learn. This year saw a record number attending the conference and appreciating the diverse selection of presentations.

For the first time this year Puliima hosted a talent contest called, Australia's Got Language. The level of participation was wonderful as was the calibre of talent. First Languages Australia was involved in filming the performances and interviews with various conference attendees, for use in language promotion activities over the next few years. So stay tuned.

Treasure trove of Indigenous language documents unearthed at NSW State Library

ABC report on the Mitchell Libraries Rediscovering Indigenous Languages project.

A treasure trove of Indigenous language documents from across Australia has been discovered in the New South Wales State Library.

The accounts of early contact between Aboriginal people and European settlers were unearthed during a forensic search of the unpublished papers filed away in the basement of the colonial building.

Read more: Treasure trove of Indigenous language documents unearthed at NSW State Library

Hidden Gems: The Role of Libraries & Archives in Cutural Revitalisation

The NSW State Librarian is hosting Hidden Gems an international symposium that will explore the role of libraries and archives in the revitalisation of indigenous language and culture.

In proposing and hosting the symposium the State Library of NSW is once again taking the lead in the Australian First Languages Collection Strategy. First Languages Australia comments the initiative and looks forward to the discussions and presentations.

Find out more about from their website.

Yugambeh being taught at Waterford West State School in Logan

From NITV by David Liddle.

A Brisbane school has started teaching a local Aboriginal language, in a bid to engage Indigenous students and close the gap in education.

Waterford West State School in Logan, which recently won the Education category of the Premier’s Reconciliation Awards, has started teaching its students Yugambeh, a local Aboriginal language.

The school, which has 640 students of whom 80 are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, is hoping that including the language in its curriculum will help close the gap in education and encourage Aboriginal students and their families.

Warrgamay people developing mayay (language) story books

An ABC Open Blog post by Jedda Priman, as part of ABC Open’s Mother Tongue Project.

Throughout the last decade the Warrgamay people have worked hard to reclaim their traditional language. Today we are developing story books for children using the Warrgamaygan mayay.

We are currently working on two children’s story books written in both English and Warrgamay. These story books will have the facility of an audio recording along with the book.

Read the full post and leave your comments.

Warrgamay people developing mayay (language) story books (2)

An ABC Open Blog post by Jedda Priman, as part of ABC Open’s Mother Tongue Project.

Throughout the last decade the Warrgamay people have worked hard to reclaim their traditional language. Today we are developing story books for children using the Warrgamaygan mayay.

We are currently working on two children’s story books written in both English and Warrgamay. These story books will have the facility of an audio recording along with the book.

Read the full post and leave your comments.

Butchulla Lullaby

Joy Bonner took up the ABC Open Mother Tongue challenge and made this beautiful film with her ABC Open producer Brad Marsellos.

Melissa Lucashenko’s Mullumbimby

From ABC books and arts daily, by Daniel Browning.

In Bundjalung, you might greet another blackfella by asking: ‘Jingawahlu?’ Literally, ‘Where do you walk?’ but there is a deeper meaning: ‘Where are you from, where have you been, where are you going?’ Living and walking on your own country confers a sense of belonging. Unfortunately for Twoboy, his fight is a bit more complicated. In the absence of songs, language and an intact dreaming—although he knows his totem or ‘meat’ is the mibun or wedgetail eagle—Twoboy has to prove his Bundjalung identity the whitefella way: suited up, in the tribunal.

Daniel Browning

See Melissa’s website for Mullumbimby.

The New South Wales Ochre Plan supporting language learning across the state.

First Languages Australia commends the leadership shown by New South Wales Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Victor Dominello in regard to Aboriginal languages, through his implementation of the Ochre Plan.

In a positive move for NSW, the government has recognised that Aboriginal languages must play a key role in improving education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal people.

The Ochre Plan acknowledges that teaching Aboriginal languages and culture helps improve school participation and retention, encourages the engagement of parents and families in education and improves community relationships between generations.

The Ochre Plan also recognises the improvement in interaction between Aboriginal students and non-Aboriginal students, reducing racism and promoting reconciliation.

First Languages Australia members see this initiative as setting a logical and welcome precedent for other states and terrritories, and believes the successful implementation of the Plan will bring strong results for communities in NSW.

The Ochre Plan can be accessed from the Department's website.

Languages are key to ATSI student engagement.

Lurleen Blackman with her grandchildren, recording in Nywaygi for a national Aboriginal language promotion project, with Michael Bromage (ABC Open). Photo credit: Faith Baisden.

Media Release

The Queensland Government’s discussion paper on the Development of a Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Early childhood, school education, training, tertiary education and employment action plan has been welcomed by Queensland Indigenous Languages Advisory Committee (QILAC).

Linguist and QILAC member Bridget Priman says she is pleased to see the Government initiating discussions toward a new approach to Indigenous Education from ‘crayon to workforce’.

The Discussion Paper acknowledges that though there has been much invested in indigenous education this investment has not yet shown significant changes in the situation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Bridget believes that Indigenous languages are a key area that has been overlooked to date. “Research shows great links between the provision of high quality home language programs and educational participation and attainment for Aboriginal students.” she says.

These programs can be based in regions of language revitalization (where languages might not be spoken much in the community) as well as in areas where English is the second language.

“It doesn’t matter on the context.” says Bridget. “A good language program with appropriate community participation results in our students being more interested in school and doing much better in all their school subjects.’

QILAC is providing a detailed response to the Discussion Paper and is keen to be involved in the development of the proposed Action Plan.

Bridget believes that though language is not the only factor which effects our students participation in school but it is a key tool which should be used in any effort to ‘close the gap’.

“QILAC will work hard to ensure that our languages are not overlooked once again in planning for greatly improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.” She says.

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Learn more

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    You can assist in the work of First Languages Australia by becoming an active member of our network. Collectively, First Read More
  • Australia’s first languages +

    Australia’s First Languages are a wonderful and precious resource. Australia is situated in one of the world’s linguistic hot spots. Read More
  • Why maintain our languages? +

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