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Ma Wal – Working together: First Languages Australia and language centres

Ma Wal

Ma Wal meeting attendees. Photo Daryn McKenny

To make the most of having so many of us together in Cairns for Puliima, First Languages Australia hosted Ma Wal, a national meeting of language centres and programs, the day before the forum.

Ma Wal provided a much-needed opportunity for people across the country to share stories of how they are participating in FLA’s national activities and contribute to the direction of the organisation in the coming years.

It was an energetic and inspiring day, made special by the enthusiasm of each of the 100 attendees, the passion of First Languages Australia’s committee, and the dedication of our staff. First Languages Australia would like to thank everyone who took part.


 Download the meeting notes here: MaWalDoc.pdf


Puliima 2017

The Puliima National Indigenous Languages and Technology Forum was once again a great success. Among the inspiring presentations and workshops, First Languages Australia

hosted these panel sessions:

Our Young Champions

From little things, big things grow: Working with partners

First Languages Australia and the ABC

Language activities and wellbeing

What are the links?

The National Placenames Project.

A presentation by Bruce Pascoe

Read more: Puliima 2017

ABC Regional announce the Placenames Project partnership with FLA for 2018


Taribelang placenames video from the ABCs Word Up series.

In their ongoing commitment to collaborating with language workers around the country to promote our languages, ABC Regional have approved a Placenames Project in conjunction with First Languages Australia as the focus of the partnership for 2018.

The project will roll out in a similar way to Mother Tongue with producers from each of the ABC’s 50 regional stations working with interested local communities to share placenames and their stories.

The details are still being finalised - so watch this space!




Legislation Recognising and Protecting NSW Aboriginal Languages

Legislation Recognising and Protecting NSW Aboriginal

Photo from the Languages Bill Parliamentary Event. From the Aboriginal Affairs website

On the 19th of October 2017, NSW became the first state in Australia to pass legislation
through its Parliament recognising the importance of Aboriginal languages.
The legislation acknowledges that Aboriginal languages underpin Aboriginal identity and the
revival and teaching of languages must accord with local community aspirations. It focuses
on the NSW Government working in partnership with Aboriginal communities to support the
revival of Aboriginal languages and raise awareness amongst the broader NSW population.

Read more here: http://www.aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au/languages-legislation 



Young Champions at Puliima National Indigenous Languages and Technology Forum


Front Row left to right: Vanessa Farrelly, Kaitlyn Lodewikus, Callum Clayton-Dixon. Back Row left to right: Abigail Carter, Ricky Buchanan, Amy Davis, Annalee Pope, Stephanie James. Photo: Katherine Soutar

First Languages Australia was once again delighted to be able to support a group of young language champions to attend both the Ma Wal and the Puliima Forum in Cairns in October. In a plenary session, the group of dedicated and enthusiastic young language workers each gave a presentation on the work they are doing to increase the use of their languages. The presentations were inspirational and heart-warming, bringing tears to the eyes of many. You can read their report and watch the presentation videos here.




Yamani - Voices of an Ancient Land


Congratulations also to the Queensland Indigenous Languages Advisory Committee for the success of the Yamani – Voices of an Ancient Land video.

The beautiful twelve-minute film played for six months as in-flight entertainment on QANTAS flights and on Queensland Rail's long-distance trains, it has been profiled in the magazines Terralingua and Embark (page 25), included in the Nandeebie Screen Festival and is soon to screen on ABC Education TV.

Click these links for your free ATOM teacher's notes and to get a copy of the CD.




Language centre Elders take the stage with Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

The Yugambeh language was broadcast to the world from the grounds of Buckingham Palace as Elder Ted Williams invited people from around the globe to the Commonwealth Games to be held on Queensland’s Gold Coast in April next year.

Patricia O’Connor and Ted Williams of the Yugambeh Museum, Language and Heritage Research Centre, were invited to Buckingham Palace for the launch of the Queen’s baton relay. The baton will travel through the countries of the Commonwealth to reach Australia for the start of the games. Sealed within the baton is a story that was told to Patricia by her grandmother about the planting of macadamia nuts. The pair made history as the first Aboriginal Australians included in the official launch ceremony for the games.



National Indigenous Languages Teaching and Employment Forum


In November last year, First Languages Australia hosted a gathering of 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language educators in Adelaide.This historic event brought together state and territory education authorities, teaching institutions, language centres and community language teachers, to work toward a coordinated approach to the training and employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language teachers.

We have been collecting feedback on the DRAFT Summary and Recommendations from the event, toward a strategy that will help us all move forward in supporting communities to reach their language goals. If you are an educator who would like to be involved in this process This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can include you on our 'education' mailing list.

 Education Forum

 Attendees of the National Indigenous Language Teaching and Employment Forum, November 2016, Adelaide


Moving forward with dual naming in Tasmania

Tasmania Place Names

Community visit to pilri (Cape Grim), March 2017. Photo Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation continues work reinstating original place names, with the next group of names to be submitted to the Nomenclature Board in July 2017.

Click this link for all the information.




DRAFT National Indigenous Languages Teaching and Employment Strategy

Adelaide Forum November 2016

On 3 and 4 November 2016, 100 language educators from around the country came together in Adelaide for the National Indigenous Languages Teaching and Employment Forum. In February a DRAFT Summary of issues and recommendations distributed to forum participants, for review and comment.

The Summary of issues and recommendations has been developed into a draft strategy which gives context detail around each of the points raised.

The Draft Indigenous Language Teaching and Employment Strategy can be downloaded here: Draft-Indigenous-Languages-Teaching-and-Employment-Strategy-3-October.pdf

First Languages Australia very much appreciates educators time in reviewing the document and providing comments with consideration of teachers in their regions.

 The draft contains a small number of examples which we feel help tell the story. If there are stories from your region which you feel make good examples of best practice, please get in contact so that we can include them.

Likewise, we would love to be able to show the diversity of school programs through pictures. If you have photographs to contribute, we would be glad to hear from you.

We ask that comments and contributions are received by the 31st of October. If you will need additional time, please let us know as soon as possible.

Once the feedback and other contributions are incorporated, the document will be shared with Ministers and Departmental heads in each state and territory.




National Indigenous Languages Teaching and Employment Forum

DRAFT Summary of issues and recommendations

On 3 and 4 November 2016, 100 language educators from around the country came together in Adelaide for the National Indigenous Languages Teaching and Employment Forum. 

This historic event gathered state and territory education authorities, teaching institutions, language centres and community language teachers, to work toward a coordinated approach for the training and employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language teachers.

It was a significant journey for many with dedicated language teachers from as far as away Kalumburu, Coconut Island, Maningrida and Hopevale attending with their departmental colleagues. The diversity of expertise and experience in the room was inspiring for all who took part.

At the below link is a DRAFT Summary of issues and recommendations, that represents the major points collected throughout the forum. It outlines the keys issues that were expressed in varied presentations and discussions, and the suggestions made towards their resolution.

Once additional contributions from participants are incorporated, the Summary will form the framework of a more comprehensive document outlining current actions in each jurisdiction, available training, and details of actions required moving forward. The document will again be distributed to participants for feedback prior to its delivery to Ministers and Departmental heads in each state and territory.

Download the summary here.



Traditional tongues: Indigenous stories and first languages

Indigenous Storeis and First Languages

The dynamic partnership between ABC Open and First Languages Australia was the inspiration for a panel presentation at the recent Walkleys Storyology Conference in Sydney.

Following two years of committed collaboration between the organisations, this was the opportunity to let an audience of journalists from around Australia hear of the planning and creativity that has gone behind such projects as the Mother Tongue Project and Marrin Gamu—Many languages, one song competition.

First Languages Australia was represented on the panel by Committee member Bruce Pascoe and Wiradjuri language teacher Lionel Lovett, who has featured in some of the films. Sharing the panel were Solua Middleton from ABC Open, Allan Clarke from BuzzFeed and the session moderator, Jade Christian from NITV.




Nominate a teacher for the Patji-Dawes Award

The Patji-Dawes award honours outstanding achievements in language teaching by an accomplished practitioner in Australia. It reflects the belief that achieving proficiency in other languages is one of the great learning experiences in the human condition, that this happens all too rarely in contemporary Australian society, and that there is an unfilled need for public recognition of those who defy our national mediocrity in this arena.

The teaching may take place in any setting – school, university, private language school, government department, Indigenous community – provided that the learner is led, by the teacher’s inspiration, to a high level of mastery in the chosen language.

Nominations should be made by people who have achieved a high level in their chosen language and would like to honour their teacher by setting out what it was about their practice which inspired and enabled them to unlock the rewards of learning another language despite all the difficulties involved.

Find out more here.




Language Legends Help Create a Colorful Snapshot of Australia's Linguistic Diversity


"What better way to visualise the diversity of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages than with an online multimedia map?" 

First Languages Australia international partner Rising Voices have published a beautiful story about Gambay and our Language Legends. The story has been translated into six languages for sharing around the world: Ελληνικά, Français, русский, Español, Nederlands.

Read the English version here.

If you have, or would like to film, a clip of one of your language legends, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can add it to the map.

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

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    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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