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International Year of Indigenous Languages


"Language is pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, good governance, peace building, reconciliation, and sustainable development...It is for these reasons and others that the United Nations chose to dedicate a whole year to indigenous languages, to encourage urgent action to preserve, revitalize and promote them." UNHCR

2019 will be a huge year for language centres and programs across Australia as the call is made for action from government, partners and our communities to see our languages taking their rightful place in the social, cultural and political structure of this country into the future. First Languages Australia is looking forward to coordinating a number of major activities and actions to coincide with the international events, with Manager Faith Baisden taking a role on the stakeholder group for the United Nations 2019 


You can participate in the international movement by adding your local events and activities to the UNHCR event site.

2019-20 Indigenous Languages and Arts (ILA) program

The Department of Communications and the Arts is pleased to announce that the 2019-20 Indigenous Languages and Arts (ILA) program grant opportunity is now open.

The ILA program provides funding for projects and organisations that support participation in, and maintenance of, Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and arts. Further information can be found on the Department of Communications website at: [https://www.arts.gov.au/funding-and-support/indigenous-languages-and-arts-program](https://www.arts.gov.au/funding-and-support/indigenous-languages-and-arts-program)

WANALA FORUM 2018 The Language of Art & The Art of Language


The 2018 Western and Northern Aboriginal Languages Alliance Forum was held at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education’s Batchelor Campus and the Wadeye Community from the 15th to the 19th October 2018. The theme for this year’s forum was ‘The Language of Art & The Art of Language’.

The Forum was co-hosted by Kungarakan and Wadeye communities with the program taking place over the two locations and five workshop streams:
* Communication: traditional and new communication methods
* Documenting language on-country: mapping and stories using drones
* The language of art: cultural and political voices in our art
* Telling our stories: narration with visual resources
* Managing language centres: managing and sustaining language centres and language archives.

In addition to the workshops, the gathering was an opportunity to celebrate a number of events including, the launch of Koongarakun language resources, opening a Wadeye Men's Shed exhibition, and the repatriation of a WWII diary to Wadeye.

It was a jam packed program enjoyed by all.

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Collections Management Meeting

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First Languages Australia was pleased to work in collaboration with the organisers of the WANALA Forum to hold a one and a half day meeting on the management of the significant collections of language materials held by regional language centres, language programs, literature production centres, language workers and communities.

Meeting participants included the managers of a number of major regional language centres, language workers, academic partners, literature production centre staff, NT Library and First Nations Media; with presentations from around the country via video for those unable to attend in person.

Together the group explored the issues shared by organisations managing collections, and ways to work together to ensure their sustainability into the future.

Detailed notes from the event are available here.

The National Indigenous Language Report

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First Languages Australia is collaborating with AIATSIS, the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) and the commissioning body, the Indigenous Languages and Arts Program, on the drafting of the National Indigenous Language Report (NILR).

FLA Manager Faith Baisden has taken a role on the Indigenous Reference Group which is contributing to the shaping of the survey format and content.

Nintiringanyi: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Teaching and Employment Strategy


Since early 2017, First Languages Australia has been working with state and territory education department partners on the development of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Teaching and Employment Strategy.

This followed a national forum in November 2016, which brought together 100 people from state and territory education authorities, schools, language centres and training providers, to work toward a coordinated approach to the training and employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language teachers.

Building on the the outcomes of the forum, the FLA steering group has worked with state and territory education representatives to identify the implementable strategies that would see first languages sustainably taught in those schools that have the support of the local language community.

In August, First Languages Australia hosted a meeting to review and finalise the document which will be soon ready for publication. It will be distributed free to language centres and community programs and will be available on the FLA website.

First Languages Australia and the Sydney Policy Lab

The Sydney Policy Lab is a new strategic project of the University of Sydney which looks to address complex local and global policy challenges. The lab aims to bring researchers, community and industry together to spark new ideas, reframe issues and transform the policy options on the table, working toward a society that works for everyone.

First Languages Australia was delighted to receive one of seven inaugural Sydney Policy Lab Fellowships.

The fellowship has focused on making knowledge relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages policy more accessible across our network. An outcome of the project is Jarrak: Our languages journey a public knowledge bank which captures key milestones in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages advocacy from the 1970s until now. 

Working with Indigenous Community Television (ICTV)


Over the past two years, you may have seen hundreds of our Language Legends films broadcast on ICTV. Maybe you have even see yourself. First Languages Australia would like to congratulate all the Language Legends who have participated in the project and extend our thanks to the team at ICTV for their ongoing work to ensure our voices are broadcast loud and clear.

Tune in to ICTV or check out ICTV play for lots of excellent language programming. 

First Languages Australia Language Centres meeting, February 2018

First Languages Australia was pleased to host a national meeting to coincide with people travelling to Queensland for the National Indigenous Languages Convention in February.

The meeting was an opportunity to feedback activities underway since the Cairns meeting November, with the report from that meeting distributed and discussed. From this meeting, there was discussion of a renewed call to Canberra for national legislation to support language into the future within the structure of government. There was also a call from language centres for FLA to produce a series of contracts and protocol documents that can be accessed by all project teams and adapted to the specifics of local projects. FLA is in discussions with Arts Law to see this project underway.

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Read more: First Languages Australia Language Centres meeting, February 2018

Global Lessons: Indigenous languages and multilingualism in school programs

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As a companion to Nintiringanyi: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teaching and Employment Strategy, we have collated case studies that demonstrate the requirements for successful collaborations between language communities and their local schools into a document titled, Global Lessons: Indigenous languages and multilingualism in school programs. Global Lessons is available as a PDF or online. The online version of the document includes video links that demonstrate the activities in action.


Binbi Wadyabay: Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Language

Congratulations to the Queensland Indigenous Languages Advisory Committee and Department for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships in their collaboration toward the formal government recognition of Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages. Discussions to this end were launched in May at Binbi Wadyabay. First Languages Australia was pleased to be a part of the event contributing through the coordinating of local media, and the collection of Language Legends videos. The Queensland meeting was also supported by funding from Indigenous Languages and the Arts.

Read more: Binbi Wadyabay: Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Language

Contact us

Phone  +61 2 4940 9144  or  1300 975 246
Visit  2 Milton St, Hamilton, NSW, 2303
Post PO Box 74, Hamilton, NSW 2303

Learn more

  • Join First Languages Australia's network +

    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? +

    There are many reasons to maintain Australia's first languages. Chapter 3 of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Social Justice Report Read More
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