National Indigenous Languages Survey Report Released PDF Print E-mail
"It highlights areas that need assistance, recommends future directions for languages policy
and highlights how the Australian Government's new whole-of-government approach can assist
lndigenous communities protect and strengthen their languages," Senator Kemp said.

The key NILS results on the state of Australian lndigenous languages are, in summary:

  • Most of Australia's lndigenous 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 lndigenous 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 l00 Australian lndigenous 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.


NILS Report recommendations include:

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 Terms 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].

The National Indigenous Languages Survey Report 2005 is available online at: www.dcita.gov.au/indig/maintenance_indigenous_languages/publications.

For more information on the NILS Report or for enquiries on accessing additional NILS results raw data contact; Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torrer Strait Islander Studies .(AIATSIS)
Web: www.aiatsis.gov.au
Telephone: D2 6246 1111
(International +61 2 6246 1111 )

Subject to the availability of funding. It is proposed that some of The data collected in the NILS will be incorporated into AUSTLANG, a web-based Indigenous database, which is under development at AIATSIS.To find this database go to: www.austlang.aiatsis.gov.au
This service is yet to be launched publicly.

The Australian Government's Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Records program Funds activities to retain and revive Australia's Indigenous languages. It supports activities that help to maintain the Strength Of languages that are widely spoken and that preserve  and revive endangered languages, where there a limited number of elderly speakers, For more Information.

visit www.dcita.gov.au/ingid/maintence_indigenous_languages.