NSW will become the first state in Australia to introduce landmark legislation to protect traditional Aboriginal languages and establish an Aboriginal Languages Centre to support community-led revival efforts, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Leslie Williams has announced.
Mrs Williams said the NSW Government will develop a bill that will explicitly recognise that Aboriginal people are the owners of their traditional languages, while giving higher priority to government efforts to support the protection of these languages for future generations.
“Aboriginal people have told us language is indivisible from their identity and we have listened – the cultural inheritance of our Aboriginal communities is too precious to be lost,” Mrs Williams said.
“Two hundred years ago there were 35 Aboriginal languages and about 100 dialects spoken. Today, all Aboriginal languages are critically endangered.
“Research shows that Aboriginal children learning a language do better at school and language renewal strengthens communities.”
Mrs Williams said Aboriginal Affairs NSW will undertake consultation with Aboriginal language experts and the broader community to inform development of the bill before it is introduced to Parliament in 2017.
“We respect the diversity of opinions within Aboriginal communities and we welcome passionate debate on how best to achieve our shared goal of reviving traditional languages,” Mrs Williams said.
MEDIA: Lema Samandar | Minister Williams | 0438 529 955