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The NSW Government is committed to a 12-month consultation process with Aboriginal communities on their aspirations for a Treaty framework or other formal agreement making process, to be led by three dedicated Commissioners.

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Celebrating the fifth anniversary of the NSW Aboriginal Languages Act


Celebrations have begun to mark the fifth anniversary of the NSW Government passing the Aboriginal Languages Act 2017, which acknowledges the unique value and importance of Aboriginal Languages to the State.

The Act, which became law on 24 October 2017, was the first legislation in Australia to acknowledge that Aboriginal people are the custodians of Aboriginal languages and further strengthens connections to Aboriginal culture and identity. 

The anniversary will coincide with the launch of the Aboriginal Language Trust’s inaugural Strategic Plan which will be key to NSW’s actions to address the Closing the Gap target 16 aimed at increasing the number and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages being spoken in NSW.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin said the NSW Government continues to set the benchmark for other States as the only jurisdiction in Australia with designated Aboriginal Languages legislation.

“The NSW Government is committed to doing things differently and by working in genuine partnership alongside Aboriginal Communities, we can achieve so much. The NSW Government has delivered on its promise, made through the Aboriginal Languages legislation, with a forward commitment of more than $138 million over the next 10 years, as announced in the 2022/23 Budget,” Mr Franklin said.

“I’m proud to see funding going to support Aboriginal community organisations and widen knowledge sharing and learning across NSW as part of State-based efforts to support Aboriginal language revitalisation.

“More than $2.7 million has been directly granted to Aboriginal community organisations and groups for Language revitalisation since the Trust was formed, of which 89 per cent has been awarded to regional NSW and around 63 per cent have directly targeted young people.

“Creating more opportunities for Aboriginal people to communicate in their Language not only strengthens their connections to Country, culture and their identity but it promotes the importance of language revitalisation and the continuation of learning.”

An Aboriginal Languages Trust was established in March 2020 as required in the legislation to provide a focused, coordinated, and sustained effort in relation to Aboriginal Languages at local, regional and State levels.

Earlier this week, the NSW Government announced students in NSW will soon be able to learn from the highest quality Aboriginal languages syllabus in the country with the release of a new Aboriginal Languages syllabus. 

Executive Director of the Aboriginal Languages Trust Claire McHugh said the revitalisation of languages plays an important role in Closing the Gap on all the socio-economic indicators.

“By strengthening Aboriginal people’s connection to Country, their cultural practices and Languages, it helps to reinforce pride in identity and healthy lifestyle choices. This then leads to better educational engagement, which improves employment opportunities,” Ms McHugh said.

“Language revitalisation must be community-designed and community-led and supported by the Government, corporates and the wider community of NSW to help all languages across the state be strong and healthy.”

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