National NAIDOC Theme 2017: Our Languages Matters

DATE: 6 July 2017

National NAIDOC Theme 2017: Our Languages Matters

The resilience, richness and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages will be celebrated during NAIDOC Week 2017 as part of this year’s theme, ‘Our Languages Matter’.

The resilience, richness and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages will be celebrated during NAIDOC Week 2017 as part of this year’s theme, ‘Our Languages Matter’.

‘Our Languages Matter’ aims to emphasise and celebrate the vital role Indigenous language plays in connecting people with their land, spreading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, and the overall cultivation of a cultural identity.

According to Anne Martin, one of the Co-Chairs of the National NAIDOC Committee, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages are not just a means of communication, they express knowledge about everything:  law, geography, history, family and human relationships, philosophy, religion, anatomy, childcare, health, caring for country, astronomy, biology and food”.

Prior to European settlement in Australia, an estimated 250 distinct Indigenous language groups stretched across the country, but nowadays only 120 of those languages still exist, and many are at risk of being lost entirely as Elders pass on.

Ms Martin and her fellow Co-Chair, Benjamin Mitchell, hope that this year’s theme will encourage all Australians to notice the use of Indigenous languages in their community.

“Many place names for our suburbs, rivers, mountains and parks are Indigenous language words. Noticing and paying attention to these words will generate greater appreciation and respect for the significance of language among all Australians, says Mr Mitchell.

"The preservation and revitalisation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages - the original languages of this nation - is the preservation of priceless treasure, not just for Indigenous peoples, but for everyone”.

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