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$90m bill to save Aboriginal languages

Bianca Hall for the Sydney Morning Herald.

MANY Aboriginal languages are in danger of extinction, a parliamentary committee has been told, with just 20 to 30 considered ''viable''.

More than 250 languages were spoken in 1788 but the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies was able to identify only 145 languages in 2005. Of those, 110 were classified as ''severely and critically endangered''.

The standing committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs was told on Thursday that it could cost $90 million to save the languages under threat.

$90m bill to save Aboriginal languages June 2, 2012

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MANY Aboriginal languages are in danger of extinction, a parliamentary committee has been told, with just 20 to 30 considered ''viable''.

More than 250 languages were spoken in 1788 but the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies was able to identify only 145 languages in 2005. Of those, 110 were classified as ''severely and critically endangered''.

The standing committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs was told on Thursday that it could cost $90 million to save the languages under threat. Advertisement: Story continues below

The director of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, Venessa Curnow, told the meeting that calls to increase funding had been unheeded since the 2005 report.

The stagnation of funding, a lack of strategy on the issue and the end of bilingual education in the Northern Territory had all contributed to a situation that required ''urgent action'', Ms Curnow said.

Read the article

More language teachers for Menindee

By Margaret Paul for the ABC.

The principal of a far west school says being included in a new State Government program will mean the school can pay for people to be trained to teach the local Aboriginal language.

The Menindee Central School only has one qualified Paakantyi teacher, but it is hoping to train 5 more over the next 18 months.

The school is one of 15 to be included in a new State Government scheme to turn schools into community hubs.

The school's principal, Brian Debus, says being included in the scheme means the school can support five locals to become fluent in the language.

"One of the major aspects of this particular program is an emphasis language, so it really supports what we want to do.

"Part of that, and details are very sketchy at this stage, is that there is provision for teachers of language."

He says now he is confident the program will be funded, classes to teach the next crop of Paakantyi teachers will start next term.

"We will be establishing this group of 5 people who will become the learners over the next 18 months, and these people are either in the school at the moment or in different roles, but they'll take on different roles from that time."

Read the full article

Funding sought for Aboriginal language classes

Margaret Paul for the ABC Indigenous

A school in far west New South Wales is lobbying the State and Federal Governments for extra support to fund classes in the local Aboriginal language.

The Menindee Central School has one qualified Paakantyi teacher, and it is believed only two people can speak the language fluently.

The principal, Brian Debus, is in Sydney today to meet an adviser to the New South Wales Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Victor Dominello.

Mr Debus says the school is asking for less than $1 million to pay for five people to become qualified to teach Paakantyi.

"We want to make sure that it isn't an expensive model because the thing is, if it's an expensive model then in today's austerity in both state and federal then it just won't get up, but it is worth doing."

He says the school can support the classes this year, but he wants funding to extend the program into 2013.

"I guess what we're going to try to argue is that this is at least a trial worth having, and I hope to provide some additional resources, not taken out of education but Aboriginal Affairs, it is basically supported by the community."

Mr Debus hopes the proposed language program could be expanded to other communities.

He says that model could be adapted to suit other language groups.

"We're hoping that the solution that we're putting up which will dramatically increase the number of speakers over 18 months, might be seen as a trial, because most Aboriginal people right across New South Wales and Australia, really want to retain their language."

Connecting Schools and Communities

By Kelly Fuller, for ABC New England North West.

Five schools in our region have been selected to undergo an over haul aimed at lifting poor education results in indigenous and disadvantaged communities across the state.

"In a place like Toomelah, every Connected Community School will have aboriginal language a key component of the curriculum, so if in Toomelah they say we want more culture and language embedded within the school curriculum because we understand that if kids are learning more about their own identity there is a greater chance that they will stay at school, greater chance that they will have greater learning capacity. So the Executive Principal can say alright well we are going to have more cultural programs within the school to make sure the kids are say."

Read the article and listen to interviews here.

Star to make his prizemoney talk

Article by Iain Shedden in the The Australian

FOR an easygoing veteran of the Australian music circuit, Warren H. Williams has a long list of unfulfilled ambitions.

In the next year, the 48-year-old country star from Hermannsburg in central Australia is hoping to record an album in Nashville, tour Australia with traditional song men from Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory and write an opera.

The Aboriginal singer, who made his name as a solo artist and a collaborator with country legend John Williamson, yesterday got a leg-up for his plans when he received the Red Ochre Award, a $50,000 prize from the Australia Council in recognition of his contribution to indigenous arts.

He knows where a lot of the money will be going. "I want to tell Australia's story in language," Williams told The Australian. "I want to take it to the masses, to people who want to hear about Australia."

Williams last month released Winanjjarra, his first album in language, recorded with song men from Tennant Creek.

The project aims to help preserve the local Warumungu language, to which, like Tennant Creek, Williams has a connection through his paternal grandmother. "The language is dying fast so we wanted to preserve it," he said. "It was great during the recording, because a lot of young kids came to see what we were doing in the studio, and some of them are now learning to write songs in Warumungu."

Read the full article

Stephen Conroy announces $15.4m for indigenous programming

Minister for communication Stephen Conroy has announced $15.4 million in funding for the Indigenous Broadcasting Program (IBP).

The funds will be directed to the establishment of an indigenous community television satellite channel, among other projects.

With the move of NITV onto one of SBS channels, Imparja will once again have an channel broadcasting community made content in local language. Congratulations ICTV!

Read the full article on The Spy Report

Technology keeps Aboriginal native language alive

TECHNOLOGY is helping save Aboriginal languages and traditional ceremonies from dying out.

Inma - traditional ceremonies told through stories and dances - will be filmed in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands and the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands to create a DVD that community leaders can pass on to their youth.

The Tjitji Tjutaku Inma project involves 11 Pitjantjatjara communities and Carclew Youth Arts.

Read the full article

Speaking up native tongues

By Craig Hoggett for The Mercury.

REVIVING Tasmania's Aboriginal language heritage will require government support and funding, a federal inquiry will hear today.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre will tell a committee the state's revived palawa kani language, made up of records from six to 12 original languages, is alive in Tasmania.

TAC palawa kani co-ordinator Annie Reynolds said a lack of political will had seen little support for indigenous language programs.

"What we're hoping is that members of the inquiry will listen to what we're saying about how the Australian Government doesn't fulfil its international obligation to protect these languages," Ms Reynolds said.

"International benchmarks state very clearly that education in your own language is a basic right and the best way to educate young people."

Read the full article.

Indigenous languages disappearing as lobbying starts for bilingual programmes

The Chair of an Aboriginal language group in north Queensland says urgent funding is needed before 80 per cent of indigenous languages spoken in the region are lost.

The North Queensland Regional Aboriginal Language Corporation [NQRALC] Chair, Troy Wyles-Whelan addressed the standing committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs [ATSIA] on language via uplink from Cairns last Thursday.

Mr Wyles-Whelan said the organisation struggled to reach out to remote communities because of budget limitations.

“We’re the peak body within the region and we’re the largest language body within Australia. Most of the other areas only have one or two [languages] or maybe three at the most,” he said. “My issue is about the funding of these programmes.”

Read the full ABC article by Sam Davis

Traditional language used to boost school attendance

The principal of the Wilcannia Central School says teaching the local Aboriginal language is an important part of trying to boost the school's attendance rate.

The school has an attendance rate of about 65% - one of the lowest in the state.

Last month, the school asked local businesses to stop selling food to children during the day to encourage them to go to school.

Principal, Michelle Nicholson, says a new program to teach Paakantyi to year 7 and 8 students is getting the students more involved. Read the full ABC article by Margaret Paul.

AFLPA Indigenous Player Map Launched

The AFL Players’ Association this week launched the first ever Interactive Indigenous Players’ Map to highlight the cultural diversity amongst Indigenous players.

Featuring 79 current players from 41 language and/or cultural groups in Australia, the map aims to inform and educate the football community and wider public on the various language and cultural groups of Indigenous AFL players.

Adam Goodes, AFL Players’ Indigenous Advisory Board Chairman said, “Indigenous players represent a diverse range of language groups across the country. The different language groups each have their own distinct traditions and culture and can differ greatly between each group.

Read the full article or view the map.

Indigenous language circle in Broken Hill

Language experts have met for a two-day conference in Broken Hill to promote teaching Aboriginal languages.

The Paakantyi Language Sharing Circle involves teachers and elders from across the far west, as well as Mildura.

It meets once a term, to share resources and promote the language.

The group's co-ordiantor, Murray Butcher, said several principals will be there, to discuss how to get the language onto the curriculum.

"Initially what we have to do is we have to talk about the feasibility of running the language in the schools, that's the sort of stuff we're going to be discussing," he said.

"And also looking for their support for getting the language in the schools, and into setting processes to getting the language taught."

Read the full ABC article by Margaret Paul

Indigenous artist adds voice to her palette

Sally Gabori sings and dances, even in the National Gallery, quite spontaneously, in front of her own artwork.

This art, as with the singing and dancing, reflects who she is, a Kaiadilt woman to the core. She is one of increasingly few speakers of the Kaiadilt language and sings while she paints, too.

Gabori, whose name in full is given as Mirdidingkingathi Jurwarnda Sally Gabori, is one of 20 artists featured in unDisclosed, the second National Indigenous Art Triennial, which is on show at the National Gallery from today until July 22.

Read the full Canberra Times article by Claire Low

A gift for languages improves class results

Next time your child gets 50 per cent on a test at school, you may want to count your blessings.

For many Australian children, even being able to write an answer in the test is an achievement because the tests are conducted in English, not in their first language or in one of about 20 surviving Indigenous languages.

A parliamentary inquiry has been travelling around the country aiming to determine the potential impacts of including Indigenous languages in early education.

Labor MP Shayne Neumann, who chaired the committee, says Aboriginal children are disadvantaged because they are not tested in their first language, the one they learn at home.

"They go to school and all of a sudden they're taught in English and they're not used to it so by the age of six or seven they're often quite disadvantaged in school and they fall behind and have to catch up," he said.

"One of the things we're concentrating on is how can we make sure there are better outcomes for these kids?

Read the full ABC article by Natalie Jones

Community revival in Aboriginal languages

In Australia, a community in the far west of New South Wales is hoping to revitalise the local Aboriginal language with a new course aimed at adults.

An 18-month course in Paakantji started at the Menindee Central School last week.

The school is hoping to get the program accredited so graduates can teach others.

It's one of a number of community-run programs throughout New South Wales.

Presenter: Margaret Paul

Speakers: Robert Lindsay, language teacher, Menindee Central School; Jan Fennell, adult student; Susan Poetsch, lecturer, Koori Centre, University of Sydney

Listen to the full ABC Australia audio

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