Over the years, Australia has done a lot to harm its relationship with the Indigenous community, but now the New South Wales government is taking steps to ensure no more Indigenous culture is lost.
It is leading the country by working with not only the Aboriginal Affairs Minister but also the Indigenous community and Aboriginal language experts to create legislation to protect Indigenous languages.
Leslie Williams, Aboriginal Affairs Minister, said, “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.”
Government policy surrounding assimilation meant the removal of approximately 35 Indigenous languages and 100 different dialects that were believed to be around in 1788.
It is not the only attempt at revitalizing Aboriginal culture. Local Indigenous languages are being taught at five different locations. However, Clark Webb, Gumbaynggirr educator and the executive officer of the Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan Aboriginal Corporation, feels as though the Department of Education is not doing the best job in rolling this program out. He explains that the need for having a TAFE certificate 1 restricts many Aboriginal Elders from being able to teach.
Mr. Webb’s other concern is that there is too much emphasis on reading and writing, telling the ABC: “We need to have a greater emphasis on hearing, responding and speaking, because that’s how we revitalise the language.”
The bill to protect Indigenous languages is expected to go to State parliament in the second half of 2017.