Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Australian Government Pledges $9 Million for Indigenous Languages

By Rich Bowden

Img: Aboriginal dance. Credit: Damian Baker.

The Federal Government has pledged to spend $A9.3 million on programs designed to save over 100 of the country's threatened Indigenous languages.

Arts and Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin told reporters at the announcement of the program yesterday that the money would go on services for translation of Indigenous languages, the promotion of languages in Aboriginal schools and a study to look at the the possibility of establishing a national Indigenous languages centre.

"These languages are... a significant part of Australia's heritage and we must ensure they are protected for the benefit of future generations," Garrett said at the ceremony.

"A focused and coordinated national approach is critical to safeguard indigenous culture and save these unique languages," he added.

Today Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma welcomed the initiative saying preserving the Indigenous languages was a necessary action as they were a an important part of the country's heritage.

“Protecting Indigenous languages is about protecting our futures, our cultures and our lives for future generations,” he said. “I applaud Ministers Garrett and Macklin for this initiative and the clear message it sends about the need to protect this vital connection between Indigenous languages, culture and country."

One hundred and ten of Australia's 145 dialects are at risk of dying out according to a 2005 government report and the focus of the program is on the education of young people who very often have little or no knowledge of their own language.


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