THE National Indigenous Languages Survey, which was commissioned by ATSIS in the last financial year is now well underway and has met with a great response from the network of language workers around the country.AIATSIS was awarded the tender for the project and contracted FATSIL to undertake the collection of data from language project workers, language centres and individuals known to have relevant knowledge AIATSIS is drawing together information from relevant surveys and reports previously conducted, and has also collected data on language materials/ resources available.
The process of collecting current survey forms closed in September and the task of drafting the report from the survey findings is now underway.
Over 280 surveys were completed with many of these covering more than one language. The total number of 171 languages represented in the survey was seen as a very positive result by the steering committee. The steering committee for the NILS is made up of representatives from AIATSIS, DCITA, FATSIL and the Dept. of Environment and Heritage.
Some of the people approached to contribute to the survey expressed concerns about the process and the need for the information to be collected. People also wanted to know what the data would be used for.
Survey staff were able to explain that ATSIS (and now DCITA) as the funding body, are required to provide documented evidence of the need for language program funding, and current statistics to show that the Program is producing outcomes.
The results from the final report will assist in the development of a languages policy. The steering committee would like to thank all those people who took the time to complete the forms, and recognise the commitment involved, particularly for those who were giving information on multiple languages.
FATSIL would like to thank Carolyn Barker for her role in coordination collection of the surveys and to the other team members involved around Australia. News on the final report will be given in the next Voice of the Land.