Census data helps cultural groups keep language and culture alive: Australia

As part of NAIDOC Week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and achievements throughout Australia.

It’s also an opportunity to share how cultural groups can use Census data to help keep language and culture alive.

Renowned Torres Strait Islander cultural group from Murray Island, Eip Karem Beizam, used Census data in grant applications to secure funding.

Vera Havilli is a proud Meriam woman from Murray Island in the Torres Strait, and coordinator for Eip Karem Beizam. She shared her story about how Census data helped to support continuation of culture for the Meriam community living away from Murray Island.

The cultural group has more than 60 members, including professional dancers, weavers, linguists, singers and songwriters. They run cultural programs and language workshops for Meriam people living away from Murray Island.

“Our mission is to ensure the Meriam people and culture survives for generations to come. We are using Census data to help us with this mission,” Vera said.

“Other cultural groups can also use the Census data to identify opportunities to build a better tomorrow.”

Vera also works as a Census Engagement Manager on Thursday Island. A big part of her role is to make sure communities and islands across the Torres Strait are well informed and prepared to complete the Census.

Vera says NAIDOC week is an important time to talk about participating in the Census as it helps provide services and plan for community needs.

“Being counted in the Census benefits your community – so it’s important to complete this year,” Vera said.

The next Census is on Tuesday 10 August. Instructions on how to participate will be sent to households in early August. Census staff will be in remote communities during July and August to help people complete their Census.

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