26 September 2023

New books to voice Indigenous languages

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The National Indigenous Australians Agency has announced that up to 60 dual-language books are to be developed for schools over the next three years.

The Agency said that Indigenous community organisations would share $3 million to partner with schools to develop and print books in English and their local language.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt said the initiative directly contributed to a target in Closing the Gap which stated, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and languages are strong, supported and flourishing”.

“In recent years, there has been considerable growth in interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages across the country, from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” Mr Wyatt said.

“This project takes languages out of dictionaries and word lists and puts them into more common use, supporting the uptake of Indigenous languages by young people,” he said.

Mr Wyatt said Indigenous students would be able to practice their local languages in a culturally safe way and to share stories of their culture and history with their peers, while boosting literacy levels as students learnt to read and speak in a way familiar to them.

“Dual-language books will help all Australian children learn about the world’s oldest living culture and will contribute to our nation’s journey towards reconciliation,” he said.

The Minister said the dual-language books would be accompanied by a digital teaching resource aligned to the Australian curriculum.

“The digital teaching resource will provide guidance on how to deliver culturally-safe lessons as classes explore their local languages, cultures and history — both the positive stories and injustices faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout Australia’s history,” Mr Wyatt said.

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