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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.

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

Federal Government ready to “Recognise” Indigenous languages (but it’s kinda old news)

Post by Greg Dickson for Crikey's language blog Fully (sic). There was a bit of hoo-hah in Parliament House this week when Julia, Tony and co. made a minor song and dance about constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their languages.

Greg Dickson writes that it’s good news but actually kinda old news… with shiny branding. He explains the recommendations and the clever work that was done by the expert panel over twelve months ago.

Read the full article.

Lost and Found

Languages have featured in the WTFs series Lost and Found which aired on the History Channel.

The First Languages Australia congratulate the Producers, the Mitchell library and the participating language workers for their efforts in highlighting indigenous languages in this way.

Lost and Found from First Languages Australia on Vimeo.

Census data misleading; languages still at risk

An article by Aidan Wilson published on Fully (sic), Crikey's language blog.

A report in The Australian claims that the 2011 census showed that the Aboriginal language “crisis” has been overstated, that indigenous languages are not in danger of dying out. Aidan Wilson looks into the data to find out what’s going on.


Read the full article.


Get Fact: are indigenous languages mounting a comeback?

Post by Aiden Wilson for Crikey.

We often hear statistics like “a language dies every two weeks” and predictions that by the end of the century half of the world’s 7000 languages will no longer be spoken. Having worked on endangered languages over the last seven years, I can say from my own experience the situation is critical and is not being overstated.

So how could the census possibly reveal that there isn’t a problem?

Read the full article.

Composer says show 'saved' indigenous word

Key Sydney Festival guest composer and director Heiner Goebbels said he was unaware for eight years that he should seek permission to use the indigenous Australian title of his Sydney Festival show Eraritjaritjaka, despite its themes of how language, colonisation and the power of hierarchy can oppress people.


Read the full article.

New Year and New Logo

A new year and a new logo for QILAC members, who met in Brisbane recently to work on the development of Language Induction Programs. The set of workshop guidelines will be used to help organisations and businesses identify any ways that language diversity could impact on the services they provide. The workshops will also help organisations create a tailored policy statement around recognition of traditional languages within their unique business environment.


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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