Reconciliation Australia

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Language and Education

Language and Education

In 1988, a group of Indigenous people issued a statement to the Federal Government outlining national Aboriginal political objectives. It became known as the ‘Barunga Statement’ and included the following words:

“We, the Indigenous owners and occupiers of Australia, call on the Australian Government and people to recognise our rights… to respect and promote our Aboriginal identity, including the cultural, linguistic, religious and historical aspects, and including the right to be educated in our own languages and in our own culture and history.”

Education for both non-Indigenous and Indigenous people about Indigenous history and culture is a key element of reconciliation. In New Zealand, elements of Maori culture and language have been mainstreamed into national identity and Maori language is taught in secondary schools. Schools can play a vital role in strengthening and supporting positive Indigenous identity, as former Cherbourg school principle Dr Chris Sarra says;

“It is in Australia’s interest I believe, to have young Aboriginal people with a very strong and very positive perception of what their Aboriginal identity means to them. Schools must play a part in getting Aboriginal children to reflect positively and accurately on their identity so that being Aboriginal is seen as something truly great. The reality is that if we do nothing, then the society we live in will somehow imply to them that they are somehow inferior… and the greatest tragedy is that many Indigenous young children will believe this.”

View high profile and everyday Australians speaking about Indigenous language and education. Directed and Presented by Tim Gibbs.

EMBED VIDEO Video on page:

For more information visit the following links:

Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.

Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre was officially established in 1987 when Aboriginal people of the Pilbara came together to discuss how they could save Aboriginal languages of the region and educate others about Aboriginal languages and culture.

Aboriginal Languages of Australia.

A comprehensive list of resources and links to sites about Indigenous languages.

Aboriginal Australia Map.

View the language groups of Australia with this interactive map.

Yothu Yindi on the Web.

Listen to Youthu Yindi, an Indigenous band with famous lyrics in both English and Yolgnu matha.

The Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages.

The Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages was established in 1994 to address the issues of language loss and coordinates community language programs throughout Victoria. This page includes an audio file that talks about language and its connection to culture, stories and the land.

The New Zealand Ministry of Education – Maori Programmes.

New Zealand has a range of Maori education initiatives in both mainstream and specialised education.

Dare to Lead.

Australian Principals Associations Professional Development Council programme aimed at achieving educational equality for Indigenous Australians.

The Indigenous Education Leadership Institute.

The activities of the Institute are designed to improve Indigenous student outcomes throughout Australia.

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