First Languages Australia is working towards a time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are in general use by communities around the country.
During the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages the focus is on the work underway to revitalise and maintain these languages, which are some of the most endangered in the world.
Only around 120 are still spoken of the estimated original 250 languages and, of these, approximately 90% are at risk. This needs to be addressed urgently, according to Geoff Anderson, from First Languages Australia.
‘We need to have people realize that Aboriginal language was the first language here in Australia. By finding your mother tongue you will find yourself, you’ll find your inner soul,’ Geoff said.
Paul Paton, also from First Languages Australia, agrees. ‘It brings in a new sense of belonging and connection to your history, and your culture. All of your stories, your connections, your history is all told through language, so to not have that as part of your development as a human really leaves you with a space that needs to be filled. Language brings that back, brings back that void of cultural knowledge and history,’ Paul said.
Hear more from First Languages Australia Committee members in our video about the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages: