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Language lessons at Woordford Folk Festival

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To celebrate the International Year of Indigenous Languages First Languages Australia has been invited to host a selection of speakers, local language lessons and panel discussions at the Woodford Folk Festival.

If you are one of the 130,000 plus people planning to attend, look out for us there.


ABC Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan

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We are very pleased to have been a partner in the work that has seen the ABC launch its first ELEVATE Reconciliation Action Plan. Continuing to embed our languages across the network is the key feature of the RAP. As ABC Managing Director David Anderson and Chair of the board Ita Buttrose state "The Elevate RAP aims to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, voices and names within our vocabulary and style so that they may, in turn, become an everyday part of the vocabulary and voices of the nation".

Read more: ABC Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan

SBS National Languages Competition

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We were pleased to partner with SBS in the fourth SBS National Languages Competition, which aims to inspire all Australians to embrace language learning and retention. The competition asked language students to answer the question: "How does learning a language make a world of difference to you?". Forty-four Aboriginal language learners entered, doubling last years’ count. We look forward to seeing that number double again in 2020.

Read more: SBS National Languages Competition

Indigenous Language Song Competition awards six schools

ABC Education and First Languages Australia have selected a record six winners for the 2019 Indigenous Language Song Competition.

 In this the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the competition entries were very strong with the judges deciding to award all contributors as well as highlighting six exceptional entries.

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Bold Park Community School students performing Marrin Gamu in Noongar.

Read more: Indigenous Language Song Competition awards six schools

Ngarrangarra gum midling: Language centres meeting

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Our committee and staff used the opportunity of having many language program teams together in Darwin for Puliima, to host Ngarrangarra gum midling–a meeting of language centre and program managers. The day comprised of a series of short, facilitated panel discussions and workshops on the topics: 
* Pay rates and awards for language workers 
* Working with local government 
* Language work contracts and intellectual property 
* Languages and science 
* Our place names 

Each panel included representatives of language centres and programs along with partner organisations. It was a productive gathering and an excellent opportunity for language centres to speak directly with some of our national partners.

Discussion motes are available here.

The meeting title ‘Ngarrangarra gum midling’ means ‘We talk together’ in Larrakia.

Ngarrangarra is pronounced ‘ngah-rran-gah-rrah’­–the ng is one sound with tongue behind top teeth and the rr with an extended roll. Gum pronounced as in Australian English and midling as ‘meed-ling’. Provided by Bilawara Lee.

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Living Language: Country, Culture, Community

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The team at the NSW Library have produced an exceptional exhibition celebrating the resilience of Aboriginal languages and language workers across NSW. The show combines original documents and interviews with language custodians on country. It has been guided by these custodians, whose knowledge and experience continue to enhance and challenge the Libraries understanding of Aboriginal language materials in its collection.

Read more: Living Language: Country, Culture, Community

Ways to connect

  • Talk to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members about what kind of relationships they would like to have with the Council and the role they see for language in that relationship.
  • Use Gambay as a stimulus to link with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and talk about their connections to country and languages across Australia.
  • Consider creative ways to allow people the opportunities to share their knowledge, stories and languages. For example, engaging language workers to visit the Council regularly, encouraging regional participation in national language activities such as Marrin Gamu (marringamu.com.au) and This Place (abc.net.au/thisplace), and displaying a languages map in a prominent place in the Council building where employees and community can see and engage with it.

Read more: Ways to connect

New course unit: Language Centre Management

As part of the Associate Degree of Indigenous Languages and Linguistics and Bachelor of Indigenous Languages and Linguistics offered by CDU in partnership with Batchelor, we have developed a new unit called Language Centre Management which will be on offer from Semester 2, 2019.

Batchelor would appreciate it if language centres could review the unit outline and provide feedback. You may add your comments directly to the document.

Please send your comments and feedback to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or call her on 08 8946 6028 to discuss the details, by the 24th of May 2019.

International funding for master-apprentice type activities

We have received the below message from Halay Turning Heart of Yuchi Language Project in the US.

Halay has provided a draft application form which can be downloaded here, though the official Request for Proposals has not been published yet and the final application may be updated slightly.

Once the RFP is published the deadline will be short so Halay would like to make contact with prospective groups in advance. If after reading that application form you are interested in applying [please email Halay directly](mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Further details are summarised in the email below.

Read more: International funding for master-apprentice type activities

Language, dialect, group, creole...what do these terms mean?

First languages Australia recommends using the term 'language' for all language varieties rather than attempting to capture the relationship of one language to another through use of a linguistic term.

Each of Australia's more than 700 languages has its own characteristics with which speakers of the language can distinguish their language/s from those of their neighbours. We recommend against using linguistic terms such as 'dialect' and 'creole' as they can inaccurately imply simplicity and lower status.

Read more: Language, dialect, group, creole...what do these terms mean?

International Year of Indigenous Languages

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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. 

Read more: International Year of Indigenous Languages

Guide for reporters

To help improve the coverage of Indigenous languages and language activities, First Languages Australia is soon to publish “Notes to assist reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages”. 

The notes recommend that reporters find a language worker, or other relevant local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander contact, to provide expert guidance and have a voice in any first language story being published. 

For stories about a specific language or region, the notes recommend contacting a regional language centre or local program to find a suitable contact.

The draft notes can be downloaded here. We are asking language centres and programs to read through the draft and send us feedback by the end of March 2019.

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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