Key NILS results and recommendations PDF Print E-mail
The key NILS results on the state of Australian Indigenous languages are, in summary:
  • Most of Australia’s Indigenous languages are now no longer fully or fluently spoken. As many as 50 languages can be expected to reach this stage of endangerment in the next 20–30 years, as the most severely and critically endangered languages lose their last speakers.

  • At the other end of the scale, the numbers of strong or safe languages are holding relatively stable at around 20, and some are gaining population due to high birthrates. However, some of these languages are becoming threatened.
  • There are many more extremely endangered languages, with only older speakers, than there are languages that are in the early moderately endangered and strong stages.
  • The pattern of language loss in Australian Indigenous languages is that once the ‘tip’ into language shift starts, it moves very rapidly through the generations. However small groups of old speakers survive for some languages for up to 20 years after language shift has gone through all generations.
  • Over 100 Australian Indigenous languages are currently in a very advanced stage of endangerment and will cease being spoken in the next 10–30 years if no decisive action is taken.
Analysis of the NILS results are throughout this report and are detailed in Chapter 5 and at Appendix F of this report.


The key NILS Report recommendations on Australian Indigenous languages are:
  • Language Nests
    A pilot program of Language Nests, which are Indigenous language programs for early childhood, should be established following consultation and a scoping report. The nests should be run in communities for all language categories (strong, endangered, and no longer spoken) [Recommendation 1].
  • Community Language Teams
    Community Language Teams should be established to assist the running of Language Nests and other projects, including the documentation of languages [Recommendation 2].
  • Regional Indigenous Language Centres
    Regional Indigenous Language Centres should operate in all areas of need to provide infrastructure and technical support to Community Language Teams. Existing centres should continue to operate but should be evaluated and new centres should be considered for some regions which have no current coverage [Recommendation 3].
  • National Indigenous Languages Centre
    A feasibility study should be undertaken to evaluate the merits of establishing a National Indigenous Languages Centre [Recommendation 4].
Please view the full NILS Report recommendations at Chapter 9 of this report.