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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.

Protection of minority languages is a human rights obligation, UN expert says


Half of the world’s estimated 6,000-plus languages will likely die out by the end of the century without urgent efforts to protect minority communities and their languages, a United Nations independent expert said today, noting also that minority languages have often been a source of tension for governments whose obligation it is to protect them.

“Language is a central element and expression of identity and of key importance in the preservation of group identity,” the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák, said as she presented her latest report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Read more: Protection of minority languages is a human rights obligation, UN expert says

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