Recognising and Protecting NSW Aboriginal Languages

In this section, you will find information on the proposed legislation to recognise and protect NSW Aboriginal Languages. NSW will be the first State in Australia with legislation to recognise the importance of Aboriginal languages. It will continue this State’s leadership amongst States and Territories on supporting the revival and protection of Aboriginal languages.

The proposed legislation was announced on 16 November 2016. Full details including copies of the draft Aboriginal Languages Bill and Strategic Plan are available under the information tab.

Aboriginal Languages Legislation going to Parliament


The Aboriginal Languages Legislation is being introduced to Parliament on Wednesday 11 October at 11am. For more information on how to join us in marking the significance of this occasion in the history of NSW, please click here (/how-to-be-invol..

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Gary Williams – (Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Cooperative, Nambucca Heads)

“It is quite exciting to know that the NSW Government is at the forefront to protecting Aboriginal Languages so we could serve as a role model and benchmark for other states. Respect and acknowledgement of Aboriginal Language is very important, and it is great to be apart of the decision here today to proceed toward protecting NSW Aboriginal Languages via formal legislation. Aboriginal Language development is currently resource poor, and this major step toward legislation will secure funding and commit future resources to enhance that’s required to ensure Aboriginal Language of NSW is forever spoken by our people and valued by Australia.”

Ray Kelly (Jnr) – Wollutuka Institute (Newcastle)

“It’s about time that the NSW Government and all necessary partners come together to build strong future foundations to bring about a cultural revitalisation of our languages, lores and culture.”

Maureen Sulter – (Fully Accredited (Masters) Gomeroi Language Teacher)

“I’m so proud that the respected recognition has finally come (long time waiting), for Aboriginal language protection, and will bring about pride and recognition for our young people, as they are our future leaders. It will also provide learning and training pathways, and further promote employment opportunities for our Aboriginal language teachers, to hopefully inspire our next generation to carry on our language, heritage, lores and culture.

Winangaya (Respect). Dreaming of a Better Future – Dreaming of Unity.”

Daryn McKenny - Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre (Newcastle)

“When I first started working with Aboriginal Languages I was involved with the NSW Aboriginal Language Research and Resource Centre (funded through the then NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs), who supported funding for Aboriginal Language and to develop the first Aboriginal Languages policy for the state of NSW.

Although language policy was formed, the overall intent from those initial days, was to proceed toward achieving formal legislation – as with legislation, it would assure future Government funding and resource allocation is priority to Aboriginal language revitalisation and protection.

Although policy was reviewed several times, our overall intent was to acknowledge and respect the original languages of NSW. With NSW being the first to establish a commitment toward legislation, it would bring All-Of-Government commitment, true acknowledgement, recognition, and is much harder to ignore or disregard when its enshrined in NSW state legislation.

Wontakolowa (Which Way – Where You Going – What you Doin) – New Future Direction.


Stan Grant (Snr) – Wiradjuri Language Consultant, Wiradjuri Study Centre (Nerrandra)

“With all the current resources and language revitalisation initiatives out there, there are several opportunities to enhance and build language revitalisation in NSW, and I would really like the implementation of language legislation to contribute toward greater pathways for learning within the schools and university areas, and to support additional technologies that speak to the younger generations.

Language doesn’t belong to people. It belongs to the land. It's who we are. It speaks to us as the traditional owners of the land and reaffirms our identity.”

Photos from the language consultation workshops

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