FATSILC News, Letter to the Editor PDF Print E-mail

FATSILC is determined to speak out strongly in support of our languages. We believe they are central to the wellbeing of our members and other Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders across the country.


To the Editor,

I am writing in response to the publishing of an extract taken from the afterword to the new edition of his essay, Radical Hope, written by Noel Pearson published by Black Inc. 'Speaking one's mothers tongue is vital' published in The Australian on the 21st May 2011.

The Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages and Culture Corporation (FATSILC) fully support Noel Pearson's notion.

"But we will have true reconciliation when millions of Australians speak our Australian languages from coast to coast. It is then that we will have the keys to our landscape, our history, our art, our stories. The Australian languages, and the literatures and cultures that live or have lived through them, are the most important things we have in Australia. Their revival, growth and use in all social, political, educational, commercial and cultural domains are the most important matter for Australia's future".

Noel Pearson highlights the importance of Australian Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander languages and cultures that live although them and the need to revive and use in all domains of Australian society. FATSILC have advocated the need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages ands culture to be fully embedded in the policies and procedures in all the aspects of health & medical, education, youth, justice & legal system, housing Social, environmental, and employment. These policies and procedures should be fully in practice and utilised when engaging Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within these service areas. They must Not be token unworkable programs. At the very LEAST, all Australian's should learn our languages, where they reside in and set in motion the movement to formally and legally recognising and acknowledging the importance of our Australian Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander languages.

After all, Australian's visit other countries and try to learn some of the languages to enable them to communicate and have an understanding of that country.

Noel Pearson says it best when he states

"We do need economically and socially sustainable lives; but it is our cultural link with the past - a link that would break without language - that makes our lives spiritually sustainable as members of a concourses people. What we need more than anything else is to see that our tongues are not dying languages spoken only in few homes but languages with a future: growing, officially recognised languages of Australia."

It is VITAL that Indigenous and non-Indigenous people understand the dire situation Australian Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander are in today. Our languages are dying daily, and are endangered of becoming extinct with every breathing moment.

Australian Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander language need to be given the priority and prestige that other languages, such as Japanese, Indonesian (Bahasa), and Spanish ect enjoy. Australia is unique in that it has many Australian Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects spoken throughout Australia, not just one or two.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians deserve and will have the ability to live economically and socially sustainable lives through the implementation and embedding of Austran Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander languages and culture in the all aspects of society such as education, health, housing, justice, and legal system, environment, then the social benefits and employment will follow.

There should be NO MORE EXCUSES that there are too many languages and which language w will learn to speak.

COME ON Australia our cultural heritage is an important and significant as any other country.


Federation of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander languages & Culture (Corporation)

In a response to The Australian newspaper article 'Living Hard Dying Young in the Kimbettey'

By Nicholas Rothwell, Saturday 30111 April2011, FATSRC responded with a letter to the editor stating

"While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and cultures often seen and facilitated as a separate to the areas of health, education, youth, justice and legal, housing, social and employment the above 'problems' are only ever going to become more prominent in our future generations. It Is a loss of strong cultural Identity amongst our youth of today that we are seeing them 'losing their way' and the lack of confidence and esteem to be strong in their culture and heritage in today's society.

The article 'Living Hard Dying Young in the Kimberley' highlighted the suicide, alcohol, drugs, violence and self-harm crisis amongst the Indigenous community located within the Kimberley area. This is a long, complicated and continuing problem experienced in the of Aboriginal communities throughout Australia.

Education is a starting point in the earty intervention of the above crises, education a t school and education at home and in the community. The embedding of Australian languages and culture within the education domain supports the upbringing happening in the home and community of students. It instils strong cultural identity in the Aboriginal Australian youth and equips them with knowledge, confidence and esteem to participate and fully engage in mainstream education and become productive members in wider society.

Dr Chris Sarra. former Principal of Cherbourg State School, Queensland and founder of the 'Strong and Smart' teaching concept states

'I insist on not using separate or watered down measuring sticks for our kids. When the time is right, they'll be measured against other schools and other kids In Queensland. I insist on that because the parents don't want to know some sort of fluffy outcomes ... they want the real deal. They want to know whether their kids can make It in Grade 8, and Is he or she going to survive. And that's it, really. But again, the subclause is that it's not at the expense of their cultural identity. We're not out to make them like non-Aboriginal kids, we're just focusing on academic outcomes. We want to do both things simultaneously, which I think we can do and we are doing.’

It is the implementation of Or Chris Sarra's approach of teaching methodologies and holistic approach of learning. Which has seen the students of Cherbourg State School become more fully engaged in their formal education whilst growing in their cultural esteem. The adoption of the 'Strong and Smart' concept is now extending to other schools around Queensland.

FATSILC is committed to continuing the advocacy of the embedding of Australian languages and culture in all domains of education, health, justice and legal, housing, social and employment.

It is our belief that cultural knowledge, practices, history and traditions expressed through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander- languages a re the foundation on which Australia's first people can build economically and socially sustainable lives.

FATSILC Chairperson

Barbara McGillivray

WA Director

27th May 2011


ABC Online

SBS National News