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It is through language that we communicate with the world, define our identity, express our history and culture, learn, defend our human rights and participate in all aspects of society, to name but a few.

Through language, people preserve their community’s history, customs and traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression.  They also use it to construct their future. Language is pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, good governance, peace building, reconciliation, and sustainable development.

A person’s right to use his or her chosen language is a prerequisite for freedom of thought, opinion and expression, access to education and information, employment, building inclusive societies, and other values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

Many of us take it for granted that we can conduct our lives in our home languages without any constraints or prejudice.  But this is not the case for everyone. 

It is for this reason and others that the United Nations chose to dedicate a whole year to indigenous languages, to encourage urgent action to speak, revitalise and promote them.


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You can help celebrate our languages by tagging your language social media throughout the year #iy2019 #iyil2019, hosting an event or joining an event near you. 

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June 2018 - June 2019 - This Place: sharing the stories behind Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander place names. Hosted by First Languages Australia and the ABC.

21 February - Launch of the new improved Gambay: First languages map. Published by First Languages Australia

21 February - First story in Young Champions profile series. Published by ABC Life and First Languages Australia

23 February - 100th episode of Word Up. Published by ABC Radio National's Awaye! program.

10 April - Western Australian Languages Centres Meeting. Hosted by First Languages Australia.

7-8 May - Bana Guyurru: Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Forum 2019. Hosted by the Queensland Indigenous Languages Advisory Committee.

26 May - 30 August - Marrin Gamu: Indigenous languages song competition 2019 launches.Hosted by ABC Education and First Languages Australia

19-22 August - PULiiMA Indigenous Language and Technology Conference. Hosted by Miromaa.

30 October - Jarrak: Our Languages Journey - launch event. Hosted by the Sydney Policy Lab and First Languages Australia.

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You can find more events nationally and internationally on our partners' IYIL19 websites:

Australian Government



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