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25 years from Alice Springs | Language, Aboriginal, Jeanie, Since, Alice, Indigenous, Springs, Theres | FATSILC, Fed. Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Languages and Culture
25 years from Alice Springs PDF Print E-mail

Jeanie BellThis February marked twenty five years since the history Alice Springs recognition of the workshop that saw the establishment of the Australian Languages Association, and set the groundwork for the formation of FATSIL 15 years later:

DARYN McKenny recently came recognition of the across the first newsletters of the ALA, while going through some old records at the Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Centre in Newcastle.The first meeting was held in February 198 1 .There are familiar names on the original committee with many of those still involved in language program today.


President: Eddie Mabo (dec'd)
Vice President: Gary Williams
Assistant Secretary: Chairmaine Green
Treasurer: Eve Fesi
Publication Officer: Jeanie Bell
Council Member: Eric Roberts, Gordon Lanyipi
Associate members representative: Patrick McConvell

There were two other members on the committee who have since passed away. Jeanie Bell, who was based at IAD in Alice Springs at the time, was the Publications Officer for the ALA for the first 2 years. She recently spoke about the motivation of the original group and the progress she has seen in the years since.

"The original idea For the meeting came out of IAD the Institute for Aboriginal Development at Alice Springs. James Wafer who was working there as a linguist, organized the meeting in 1981. In those days. the work of the linguists was very academic and not always inclusive of the common or owned by the community. We aimed to give languages back to Aboriginal people and see more control' and involvement by communities. On those day it was acceptable to say Aboriginal only. The linguistic rights of our people were -sometimes being overlooked In favour of rights of linguists .

"We also believed that Aboriginal languages needed more exposure, and more recognition of the work that was being done:"

Since those early days, Jeanie has continued her work with language groups in many parts of Australia, and kept track of the changes that have come about as more communities take control of their own language program as well as the changes within Government.

The biggest thing is that now so many people are involved.They are working together to help each ocher and young people are involved as well. It's great when you hear them using language in their conversations. Overall in the wider community, there's a lot more awareness of how important this work is, the need to stop the loss of language and
to support the recovery. And support is corning too from the non indigenous community."

Jeanie credits the work of FATSIL as having an impact on the attitudes of Government 'With progress in areas such as the Endangered language funding and the National Indigenous Languages Survey Report, which is a really good record of this time in. Queensland there's the Indigenous Knowledge Centre at the State Library with a stated locus on the protection and promotion of Indigenous Languages and the NSW Dept of Eduction is doing a lot of good work. Really there's so much happening! In Victoria, year 11 and 12 language subjects now part of the Victorian Certificate of Education. FATSIL's work on the International level is important as comparison with language programs overseas is essential"

With a in history of working in this area, and a Master degree in Linguistics from the University of Melbourne, Jeanie is a respected authority on Aboriginal languages and linguistics and is currently working as the linguist/researcher at the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages. She will take up a Lecturing position at Bachelor institute in the Northern Territory in April 2006.