Commissioners have their say on language PDF Print E-mail

ATSIC
ATSIC Chairperson Geoff Clark
THE push to increase the budget allocation for Language Initiative Programs has gained momentum, with support in principle from both the Chair and Vice Chairperson of the ATS1C Commission.

In an interview in Sydney,ATS1C Chairperson Geoff Clark, a member of the Peek Wurrung language group, called on communities and organisations to incorporate the use of local language into their own work as a matter of course. "If you listen to the presentations by visiting international speakers, the opening address is always in language. Something that we can do quite simply is to start using language for the naming of our reports and conferences."

Asked whether the Commission as a whole were committed to support for the language program, Mr Clark said that with the Commissioners representing so many different language groups, there is a great understanding and concern between all of them of the need to support language survival and promotion, and for this to be reflected in practical terms through funding.

ATSIC
ATSIC Vice Chairperson Ray Robinson
"If we really want to state who we are as sovereigns and maintain that identity, we have to introduce more language into our doctrine and our operations." The intention to raise support for language programs was also flagged by ATS1C Vice Chairperson, Ray Robinson, who spoke with The Voice of the Land about his hopes for language development.While the Commissioner's Bidjara language continues with some speakers, Commissioner Robinson is concerned about the need to provide more opportunities for education in traditional languages, and to see this awareness extend through to the mainstream education systems.

"There's a big demand out there at the moment in the communities right round Australia for more money for language programs. We need to revive the languages, and get them into the school curriculum.We're not saying that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people shouldn't speak English, but they have to retain their own culture. If you lose your language entirely, then you've lost your culture."

The ATS1C Commission will review its funding allocation for the Language program in the coming months.