The Government has committed an additional $10 million to support the revival and maintenance of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

The Australian Government is committed to helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to revive, maintain and promote their cultures through arts and languages.

The Government recognises that, as part of this, the erosion of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages needs to be addressed. Of the original estimated 250 languages only around 120 are still spoken and, of these, most are considered endangered. In support of this, Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Indigenous Affairs the Hon Nigel Scullion announced an election commitment to provide $10 million of funding over four years from 2016 to 2020.

Focus and implementation

This additional funding will support:

  • working in partnership with Indigenous communities to identify and facilitate digital opportunities to address language needs
  • innovative digital solutions to capture and teach language
  • Indigenous language workers and linguists, and
  • collaborative approaches to building the digital capabilities of communities.

The Australian Government will work with stakeholders to determine the most effective ways to deliver these priorities through support of community-led initiatives. As part of this work, there will be a National Indigenous Languages Convention in February 2018. The Convention will bring stakeholders together to develop a shared understanding and identify ways to improve the preservation of Indigenous languages.

Identifying projects that use digital technologies effectively has the potential to enable languages to be captured and preserved quickly and efficiently. These technologies will complement and support other methods being used to increase the revival and maintenance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages within Indigenous communities. Technology also offers great opportunities to share and celebrate success and to increase awareness of the importance of indigenous languages to all Australians.

The funding of projects will be administered through the existing Indigenous Languages and Arts program in accordance with the program’s funding guidelines. More information about the program, eligibility and opening date of the next funding round is available from Indigenous Languages and Arts.

National Indigenous Languages Convention

A wide range of stakeholders will be invited to participate in the Convention.

Organisations actively working on capturing, preserving and teaching Indigenous languages, and potential technology partners will have the opportunity to demonstrate their digital solutions, share ideas and explore how they can support the capture and learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

For further information contact nilc [at] arts.gov.au.

Existing support

The $10 million commitment is in addition to the $20 million in annual support provided through the ongoing Indigenous Languages and Arts program for projects and organisations that support participation in and maintenance of Indigenous culture through languages and arts.

The new commitment complements and reinforces the work being carried out under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, the Closing the Gap agenda and the Indigenous Languages and Arts program. Together the suite of programs will address different aspects to the Government’s broad support for the maintenance of Indigenous language and culture, and wellbeing. The new commitment complements and reinforces the work being carried out under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, the Closing the Gap agenda and the Indigenous Languages and Arts program. Together the suite of programs will address different aspects to the Government’s broad support for the maintenance of Indigenous language and culture, and wellbeing.

Supporting documents

Media release