First Languages Australia is interested in encouraging work that explores the relationships between Indigenous language activities and wellbeing, in both revival and maintenance settings.
Australian language workers, language leaders and communities have always known the connection between language and wellbeing and want others to know and understand this relationship.
Efforts to establish a national focus on the connection between wellbeing and first languages was the topic of conversation at a meeting between First Languages Australia, the Research Unit for Indigenous Language (RUIL), the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL) and researchers from the National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health’s (NCEPH) Mayi Kuwayu: The longitudinal study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.
The collection of evidence that documents these connections could have profound effects on community health and access to language services. Qualitative and quantitative evidence of such effects will be useful in advocating for and gaining ongoing support for community language activities.
These discussions are also a bridge to richer engagement between researchers and Indigenous community members, encouraging increased community participation in language research.
For linguists, this research has the power to:
- increase understanding about language community needs with regard to research collaborations around language
- broaden perspectives about how and why communities might wish to be involved in research
- increase the pool and the diversity of language community members who are willing to contribute their skills to research activities
- encourage a deeper understanding of the world view of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which will, in turn, strengthen empathy and ease of communication
For language communities, the research has the power to:
- allow people to better engage with researchers and collaborate in the development of research methodologies
- increase the community interest in language work
- increase the financial support for language activities
- through a greater shared understanding of research process, rationale and intended benefits, see a stronger drive coming from communities to seek research collaborations and to actively engage in the work.
It is the aim of First Languages Australia to support strong collaborations between all those who share passion and commitment to the preservation and promotion of the first languages of this country.
Being part of these discussions has been inspiring. With the work of all of us here together it feels like there may never be another language lost in Australia.