Ngurr Ju Miyanpa PDF Print E-mail
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Indigenous languages in this country are at a crisis point. At the time of European arrival there were over 250 recorded Indigenous languages. Today there are 6 to 9 ‘healthy’ languages (as defined in the National Indigenous Languages Survey, 2005, as a language fluently spoken by 3 generations), 25 at various levels of endangerment, while the rest are pretty much gone. This represents the highest rate of language extinction anywhere in the world.

Here in Australia, our politicians have continually failed to acknowledge Australia’s first languages, the oldest spoken languages on Earth. In other countries it is standard practise. How can we ever communicate as equals when one side refuses to respect and acknowledge the language the other side speaks? We need Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages formally recognised through legislation. This is the basic underlying principal of a multicultural society.

First it was Terra Nullius, now it’s like Lingua Nullius. If we are to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians and move beyond the apology delivered by the Prime Minister, we need to start at the basics. By the way, I say bridge the gap because closing the gap is about assimilation, and I’m proud to call myself Aboriginal.

Paul Herbert