By Kiri Ten Dolle for The Satellite
INDIGENOUS members of the community have welcomed the Federal Government's recommendations to introduce bilingual education in schools to boost Aboriginal student attendance.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, chaired by Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann, last week hand down its report Our Land Our Languages: Language Learning in Indigenous Communities.
The report found only 18 of an estimated 250 Aboriginal languages were still spoken and were in danger of being wiped out in the next decade.
It recommended the need to urgently ensure their survival by teaching students whose first language was indigenous in their mother tongue, and an alternative NAPLAN method of testing.
But Mr Neumann took it a step further, calling for an Indigenous Language Learning Centre at Ipswich.
He said he would also like to see an indigenous language degree on offer at universities or TAFE in addition to other foreign language degrees.
"There are 136,000 people in the Blair electorate and 5300 are indigenous, according to the latest census," Mr Neumann said.
"At Riverview State School 25% of students are indigenous. Most Ipswich high schools have indigenous populations of 10 to 15%.
"This is a very significant report for at least one in 10 people in our district. If adopted by the government it will make a huge difference.
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By Heath Aston, Sun-Herald state political editor.
IN DECEMBER 1992 the Keating government launched 50 dictionaries of Aboriginal languages.
A year in the making, the dictionaries were an attempt to preserve 100 or so remaining languages native to Australia. Once there had been 200.
Robert Tickner, the minister responsible, described the languages, with their wide regional variances, as ''precious national treasures'' that must be saved from extinction.
As with so many government initiatives on behalf of the Aboriginal community, it was an admirable exercise with results that didn't live up to the exuberant initial hopes.