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Faith
Faith Baisden
THE FATSIL delegates have a great opportunity ahead of them, with the invitation to speak to a Parliamentary Committee about the importance of indigenous languages in planning for urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

There will be a lot of preparation for the meeting, and one of the questions already asked was 'Where do we start with a group of parliamentarians?' The answer, sadly, was 'At the beginning.'

It was disappointing to realise that in all probability, a Steering Committee of Federal politicians would need to be given the complete history of indigenous language loss and retrieval before they even began to consider its relevance to current policy planning.

Languages haven't been a `big issue.'  They're not a politically sensitive topic backed by a vocal minority, nor a subject likely to figure in any politician's race for votes.

But that can change, and the meeting of FATSIL delegates and this Parliamentary Committee can be seen as an important step in making the change.

Another important step could be made if we all stop and think of the politicians in our own backyards, and the job of educating them about what we do and why.

Our politicians need to have an understanding of issues at the ground level, before they can speak confidently to councils or parliament.
they need can only come from the people doing the ground work. That's you.

Maybe it's time to let any politician you can corner at a local library opening or put on your mailing list, know a lot more about what you do, and what you care about.

Then maybe in the future if FATSIL is invited to Parliament House, someone will ask
`Where do we start?' and the answer will be —just give them an update. Everyone knows the main issues!