Queensland hopes to prevent more than 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages from extinction with a $400,000 investment through the 2021 Indigenous Languages Grants.
To mark Indigenous Literacy Day, Minister for Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford has today (Wednesday, September 1) launched the grants to help keep traditional languages alive.
In Queensland, more than 150 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects were once spoken. Today around 50 of these remain, with less than 20 being used as first languages, predominantly in the north of the state and in the Torres Strait Islands.
“Language is a big part of cultural identity,’’ Mr Crawford said.
“The world’s oldest living cultures have a strong tradition of oral story-telling that has been passed down from generation to generation.
“But it is more than Dreaming stories and Songlines.
“Language is the foundation of sacred knowledge held by elders and ways of understanding sense of place, being and belonging.
“Nationally, it is estimated that of more than 300 specific Aboriginal languages in use pre-British arrival, there will be fewer than 100 left in Australia by 2050.”
“These grants help to promote, preserve and revive traditional languages.’’
“We aim for a sustained increase in the number and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages being spoken by 2031,” Mr Crawford said.
“Celebrating language and culture is important on Queensland’s Path to Treaty, as we acknowledge the impacts of historical practices on First Nations people and work towards a just, fair and inclusive future.”
Minister for Education Grace Grace said the dedicated language funding provided a wonderful opportunity for the community.
“This initiative gives all Queenslanders, from our youngest learners to respected Elders, the opportunity to celebrate the languages of the world’s oldest living cultures,” Ms Grace said.
“Previous grant funding has supported school-based language initiatives led by organisations including school parent associations in Bamaga, Caboolture and Mossman, along with community kindergartens and learning groups in Bribie Island, Jimboomba and Napranum,” she said.
The Indigenous Languages Grants, co-funded by the Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and the Department of Education, have supported more than 50 language initiatives since 2019.
Applications are now open for language grants of up to $20,000 to support community initiatives to celebrate, promote and revive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.
Murgon State School and Mountain Creek State High School Parents and Citizens’ (P&C) associations are among last year’s grant recipients delivering projects in partnership with local Elders and traditional language speakers.
At Murgon State School, work is underway on a community Yarning Circle, including a mural by students and local artists, the Langton Family, to celebrate traditional Wakka Wakka language and stories.
Mountain Creek State High School is collaborating with local Gubbi Gubbi representatives, James and Jo Doyle, to create a student code of ethics garden showcasing the school values in traditional language.
For more information or to apply, visit www.qld.gov.au/ILG. Applications close at 3.00 pm AEST on Friday 15 October 2021.