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New, improved, Gambay: First Languages Map

Press release for International Mother Language Day–21 February 2019

In acknowledgement of International Mother Language Day 2019, First Languages Australia is celebrating the relaunch of Gambay: First Languages Map.


First Languages Australia manager, Faith Baisden says, “Gambay highlights over 700 languages, many of which are grouped by colour to support the sharing of resources between related languages.”

“In collaboration with local community members extensive teachers’ notes have been compiled to encourage schools to teach about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages across curriculum areas.”

“Over the past few months, Gambay has undergone significant development to improve a range of functions...”

Read more: New, improved, Gambay: First Languages Map

Language programs map

To help the media, and others, make direct contact with language workers, First Languages Australia is publishing a map of language programs.

We are asking all language centres and programs to check their contact details are correct on the web map at this link, and also the DRAFT PDF.

We would also like to hear of any additional programs that would like to be added.

Language programs map February 2019

Federal Government Interdepartmental Meeting to address national action on languages

First Languages Australia will address an Interdepartmental Meeting in Canberra on the 12th December, to bring into focus the responsibilities of all strands of government to support languages within their portfolios. This meeting has been coordinated at the request of First Languages Australia, with the support of the Indigenous Languages and Arts Program team. It will include the presentation to the government of a range of key issues raised by language centres and network members at meetings over the past eighteen months.

The meeting will be an opportunity to build awareness of:
* the need for increased and committed ongoing federal funding for languages;
* the importance of legislation to protect the rights of first languages speakers;
* the responsibility and role that each Department has regarding Indigenous languages and their communities;
* the benefits (social, financial and cultural) that come with increased connection with first languages; and
* specific actions each Department can take to embed and support language as core to their work.

Send us your Language Legend clips for gambay.com.au

First Languages Australia has developed an interactive map to display and promote the diversity of Australia's Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages. The map is called Gambay, which means 'together' in the Butchulla language of the Hervey Bay region in Queensland. Gambay is the first Australian map to allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities control over the way their languages are publicly represented.

The 'person' icons on map dots represent Language Legend clips. These short videos allow language workers and advocates to personally explain the importance of their language/s and demonstrate their passion and dedication to their revival or strength.

The videos are moving expressions of the diversity of Australia's languages, their present endangerment status, and the dreams and achievements of individuals. They provide an opportunity for the public to meet language workers from their regions and learn about the language activities they are involved in, as a bridge to cross-cultural understanding.

So far the map has a collection of over 250 clips, with limitless room for your stories.

You can help to build the collection by contributing short videos of your language legends following the instructions in the above video.

Guide for reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language communities, peoples and projects

In the coming months, First Languages Australia will be working on a guide to help educate journalists on how to better report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and language issues. The guide will build on the comprehensive information in the Handbook for Reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and Issues released by Media Diversity Australia in July this year.

FLA is collating ideas from the network and media partners to improve language news stories into the future. As part of this process, we are interested in [receiving examples](mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) of:
* reporting that has concerned you and the specific changes you would make to improve the reporting, and
* stories written by journalists that you feel demonstrate exceptional reporting on language activities and issues.

Yaale – Tools for language work

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In July 2018, Annalee Pope and Carolyn Barker from First Languages Australia, together with Steven Bird from Charles Darwin University, visited the Mobile Language Team in Adelaide to look at the various tools they are using in their work with language groups across South Australia. The Mobile Language Team have many innovative activities underway, primarily focused on creating environments where community members can talk with each other in language. Of particular interest, were their processes of collaboratively creating learning materials to support weekly community classes held at great distances from each other.

Read more: Yaale – Tools for language work

International Year of Indigenous Languages


"Language is pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, good governance, peace building, reconciliation, and sustainable development...It is for these reasons and others that the United Nations chose to dedicate a whole year to indigenous languages, to encourage urgent action to preserve, revitalize and promote them." UNHCR

2019 will be a huge year for language centres and programs across Australia as the call is made for action from government, partners and our communities to see our languages taking their rightful place in the social, cultural and political structure of this country into the future. First Languages Australia is looking forward to coordinating a number of major activities and actions to coincide with the international events, with Manager Faith Baisden taking a role on the stakeholder group for the United Nations 2019 


You can participate in the international movement by adding your local events and activities to the UNHCR event site.

2019-20 Indigenous Languages and Arts (ILA) program

The Department of Communications and the Arts is pleased to announce that the 2019-20 Indigenous Languages and Arts (ILA) program grant opportunity is now open.

The ILA program provides funding for projects and organisations that support participation in, and maintenance of, Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and arts. Further information can be found on the Department of Communications website at: [https://www.arts.gov.au/funding-and-support/indigenous-languages-and-arts-program](https://www.arts.gov.au/funding-and-support/indigenous-languages-and-arts-program)

WANALA FORUM 2018 The Language of Art & The Art of Language


The 2018 Western and Northern Aboriginal Languages Alliance Forum was held at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education’s Batchelor Campus and the Wadeye Community from the 15th to the 19th October 2018. The theme for this year’s forum was ‘The Language of Art & The Art of Language’.

The Forum was co-hosted by Kungarakan and Wadeye communities with the program taking place over the two locations and five workshop streams:
* Communication: traditional and new communication methods
* Documenting language on-country: mapping and stories using drones
* The language of art: cultural and political voices in our art
* Telling our stories: narration with visual resources
* Managing language centres: managing and sustaining language centres and language archives.

In addition to the workshops, the gathering was an opportunity to celebrate a number of events including, the launch of Koongarakun language resources, opening a Wadeye Men's Shed exhibition, and the repatriation of a WWII diary to Wadeye.

It was a jam packed program enjoyed by all.

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Collections Management Meeting

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First Languages Australia was pleased to work in collaboration with the organisers of the WANALA Forum to hold a one and a half day meeting on the management of the significant collections of language materials held by regional language centres, language programs, literature production centres, language workers and communities.

Meeting participants included the managers of a number of major regional language centres, language workers, academic partners, literature production centre staff, NT Library and First Nations Media; with presentations from around the country via video for those unable to attend in person.

Together the group explored the issues shared by organisations managing collections, and ways to work together to ensure their sustainability into the future.

Detailed notes from the event are available here.

The National Indigenous Language Report

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First Languages Australia is collaborating with AIATSIS, the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) and the commissioning body, the Indigenous Languages and Arts Program, on the drafting of the National Indigenous Language Report (NILR).

FLA Manager Faith Baisden has taken a role on the Indigenous Reference Group which is contributing to the shaping of the survey format and content.

Nintiringanyi: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Teaching and Employment Strategy


Since early 2017, First Languages Australia has been working with state and territory education department partners on the development of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Teaching and Employment Strategy.

This followed a national forum in November 2016, which brought together 100 people from state and territory education authorities, schools, language centres and training providers, to work toward a coordinated approach to the training and employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language teachers.

Building on the the outcomes of the forum, the FLA steering group has worked with state and territory education representatives to identify the implementable strategies that would see first languages sustainably taught in those schools that have the support of the local language community.

In August, First Languages Australia hosted a meeting to review and finalise the document which will be soon ready for publication. It will be distributed free to language centres and community programs and will be available on the FLA website.

First Languages Australia and the Sydney Policy Lab

The Sydney Policy Lab is a new strategic project of the University of Sydney which looks to address complex local and global policy challenges. The lab aims to bring researchers, community and industry together to spark new ideas, reframe issues and transform the policy options on the table, working toward a society that works for everyone.

First Languages Australia was delighted to receive one of seven inaugural Sydney Policy Lab Fellowships.

The fellowship has focused on making knowledge relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages policy more accessible across our network. An outcome of the project is Jarrak: Our languages journey a public knowledge bank which captures key milestones in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages advocacy from the 1970s until now. 

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

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