The University of Newcastle, Australia

First Nations Languages in NSW Parliament

Friday, 18 October 2019

The 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages bought sobering news to the attention of the world; 40% of languages are endangered and a large proportion of these are Indigenous languages.

Ray Kelly profile image

Dr Raymond Kelly is a passionate advocate of the teaching and learning of Aboriginal languages.

He works tirelessly on boards, councils and advisory committees advocating for the preservation of all Australian Indigenous languages.

As a playwright, actor and singer he performs in his own language, Thangatti, on stage.

He teaches it in schools and libraries and has, more recently, travelled to Hawaii gleaning insights into First Peoples teaching practices and curriculum development to implement in Australian institutions. His ultimate aim? To strengthen the development of Australian Indigenous languages in schools and communities.

His work has been instrumental in forming the first legislation in Australia to acknowledge the significance of First Nations languages, the NSW Aboriginal Languages Act 2017.

In October 2019 the Senate changed its standing orders so that where evidence to committees is given in Indigenous languages, a transcript will also be generated, in that language, accompanied by an English translation.

As part of the 2019 NSW Senate Occasional Lecture Series, Dr Kelly explores the notion of using First Nations language on the floor of Parliament.

What are some of the obvious impediments and challenges, and what are the potential benefits of this cross-cultural dialogue for the nation?

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