Language Forum draws project workers to Cairns PDF Print E-mail

Kanatishon Glenda Deer and her husband from the Mohawk Indian nation attended the Cairns conference. They are pictured with ATSIC Commissioner Terry O'Shane from North Queensland.
Kanatishon Glenda Deer and her husband from the Mohawk Indian nation attended the Cairns conference. They are pictured with ATSIC Commissioner Terry O'Shane from North Queensland.
A record attendance at the FATSIL National Indigenous Languages Forum in Cairns North Queensland, resulted in a range of recommendations which will be incorporated into FATSIL's operational plan for 2002.

Over one hundred representatives of language programs and key organisations used panel discussions to examine topics related to education, research and the effective use of resources.The focus of the language forum was assisting people to regain access to language where contact with family and country had been lost.

Recommendations from the forum supported the need to continue pressuring Government to increase its commitment to this area. e.g.

  • That the level of funding for Indigenous Languages be raised to at least the level of that for the national Languages Other Than English program.
  • That work continues with Governments toward the development of comprehensive language policies at State and Federal level.
  • That FATSIL actively seeks the establishment of triennial funding for Indigenous Language Programs.
  • That FATSIL works to ensure the funding for the Languages Access Initiatives Program be extended to ensure employment for language workers and the continuation of language research for members of the Stolen Generation and all community members.This is to include the development of partnerships across local, state and federal governments.
  • That FATSIL work with other Peak Indigenous Organisations in the development of a national discussion paper on language and cultural protocols, particularly in relation to the use of languages in song, dance, project names etc., and the relationship of traditional language to the country.

In his opening address, Chairperson Lester Coyne flagged FATSIL's intention of pursuing links with corporate sponsors, with the ultimate aim of broadening the funding base for both existing and future programs. Mr Coyne also highlighted the achievements of the peak body in helping to bring languages into an ever growing national focus.

"What we have at the ten year point is clear evidence that positive changes are now taking place, from the community level right through to Federal government.These changes will mean our Indigenous languages are an issue to be considered automatically in any decision making or policy creation that affects Indigenous Australians".

ATSIC Language Portfolio Commissioner, Preston Thomas, reiterated the intention of the Commission to continue its support for FATSIL and to push for increased funding of the language program.

The Cairns forum featured displays of language teaching materials, from programs around Australia.These included posters, games, text books, cds and dictionaries, teaching resource kits and curriculum guides.The resources on display could be applied to teaching programs from pre-school through to adult learning levels.