Submission to the Federal Government’s Standing Committee on Indigenous Languages 2011 PDF Print E-mail

15 September 2011

To the
House of Representatives Standing Committee
On Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs

fatsilc
Submission to the Federal Government’s Standing Committee on Indigenous Languages 2011
Please find attached FATSILC Corporation responses to the above committee.

As a national peak body for Indigenous languages and a board consisting of Indigenous directors across the nation, the Federation of Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Languages and Culture Corporation (FATSILC) Believe these problems are occurring due to the lack of strong cultural identity And connection between traditional culture/language and mainstream influences.

The problems which are prominent in Aboriginal communities today have been escalating for over 200 years. The slow breakdowns ofr traditioanl language and culture have been instrumental in the escalation of drug and substance abuse, domestic violence, suicide and self-harm, as Aboriginal people have lost their strong identity in whom they are where they come from and where they are going.

FATSILC is the national peak body for community based Indigenous language programs in Australia. The organisation was established in 1991 in response to the Australian Language and Literacy Policy and became incorporated on 3rd December 1993.

It is through the individual experience of our Directors throughout the nation who network directly with Indigenous communities and deal face to face with these issues everyday that we are able to identify many obstacles that impact on our people and our languages. Indigenous language centres, programs and projects are and have been functioning at the grass roots level and their sole purpose is to revitalize maintain and preserve the multiple Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages and cultures of Australia with very limited resources.

FATSILC's position is to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and culture embedded in policies and procedures in all areas of health, education, youth, justice and legal, housing, social, employment and all professions. These policies and procedures should be fully in practice and utilized when engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within these service areas, not just token programs on the side, because Australia has to be seen as doing something for the plight of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, cultures and land have been separated by government as an identity on its own. lt Is 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. lt is through 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.

Our Languages need to be recognised and acknowledged as the first languages of Australia and incorporated in the Australian Constitution. No excuses, we do not want to hear that there are too many languages? Which languages do we choose or acknowledge? The answer is Acknowledge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Have respect for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Come on Australian government listen to us, respect us as we are a unique nation and need to be acknowledged and shown recognition and respect as the first people of this nation.

FATSILC Chairperson

Barbara MeGillivray WA Director

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