Digital tools help preserve Indigenous Australian languages

Release Date: 
20 November 2019
Media release

The Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation is bringing four more language groups onto the Living First Language Platform, empowering communities to pass on their languages and cultures to future generations.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Honourable Ken Wyatt AM MP, said the Morrison Government is providing $880,000 to bring Warramiri and Warumungu from the Northern Territory, Adnyamathanha from South Australia and Thaynakwith spoken in Queensland onto the digital app to help keep these languages alive.

“Indigenous languages carry meaning beyond the words themselves and making them more accessible helps preserve and enrich our cultural identity,” Minister Wyatt said.

“For tens of thousands of years, languages have been a critical means through which valuable cultural knowledge and heritage has been passed on.

“Interactive and dynamic digital literacy apps such as the Living First Language Platform is one way we are able to address the urgent need to revitalise, preserve and teach Indigenous Languages.

“This funding during the International Year of Indigenous Languages provides an opportunity to consider long term, sustainable means to support Indigenous languages and keep them known to us.

“These apps are a great way put languages in the hands of young people and appreciate the importance of First Languages to create connections and community,” Minister Wyatt said.

Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation Co-Founder, Mary-Ruth Mendel, said ALNF’s Living First Language platform allows communities to be their own change-makers, teachers and language experts.

“When languages die, we lose more than words. We lose a carrier of culture, vital to the everyday and long-term wellbeing of individuals and communities,” Ms Mendel said.

“Working with the Australian Government and alongside community and language leaders, we will capture and safeguard four additional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages at risk of extinction.

“This technology helps bridge cultural divides, fosters resilience, encourages literacy and most importantly puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Languages firmly back in community members’ hands.

“Our aim is to empower First Language speakers to create digital literacy resources, with the community, by the community and for the community.”

You can read more and support the initiative at https://alnf.org/program/firstlanguages/