NSW introduces legislation to recognise Aboriginal languages

Jay Davis speaking in the Legislative Council on Wednesday for the introduction of the Aboriginal Languages Bill. Photo supplied.

Jay Davis speaking in the Legislative Council on Wednesday for the introduction of the Aboriginal Languages Bill. Photo supplied.

Taree’s Jaycent Davis was in State Parliament this week to speak for the introduction of the Aboriginal Languages Bill.

Jay has been involved in the development of an understanding of Gathang, the traditional language of the Biripi and Worimi people and earlier this year organised a day of language and culture as part of the Traditional Language Immersion Day at Purfleet.

Related: An immersion of language

New South Wales has become the first state in the country to introduce legislation to Parliament to acknowledge the unique value and importance of language to our First Peoples and to the State.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was proud the NSW Government introduced the landmark bill, in the presence of Aboriginal Elders and community representatives, which recognises the significance of NSW’s first languages and will protect and revive them for future generations.

“Today is an historic day. This legislation will acknowledge the importance of Aboriginal languages for years to come,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Sarah Mitchell said the NSW Government had worked alongside language experts and Aboriginal communities, including at 32 meetings and workshops around NSW, to develop the Bill.

“It was crucial to get a diverse range of opinions and input from all over the state to ensure the legislation was as sturdy as possible,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The Bill was introduced in the Upper House (on Wednesday, October 11) in the presence of Aboriginal Elders and community representatives with a moving message stick ceremony – symbolic of Aboriginal people’s custodianship of language.”

The Legislation includes the establishment of an independent trust made up of Aboriginal community leaders, who will oversee the development a strategic plan to protect and strengthen Aboriginal languages through programs, partnerships and funding.

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