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Podcast episodeCover image for of Pass it On: Preserving Australian Indigenous Languages

The Wheeler Centre

Pass it On: Preserving Australian Indigenous Languages  /  Words & language

From left: Daniel Browning, Vicki Couzens, Fay Stewart-Muir, Aaron Fa'aoso, Kelrick Martin and Brendan Kennedy, with Auslan interpreter — Photo: Jon Tjhia

‘Budgerigar’, ‘quandong’, ‘Torana’, ‘Canberra’ – there are many Aboriginal words in everyday use by both non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians. What do we gain from knowing and learning First Nations words? And how can we embed more traditional language into the daily lives of all Australians?

At least 250 Indigenous Australian languages were spoken on this continent in 1788. Today only around 120 Indigenous languages are spoken in homes and most of these are considered endangered. For many years, elders have been working hard to document, share and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island languages across the country. But in the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages there’s an especially strong momentum building around this issue.

In this conversation, hosted by Daniel Browning, our panellists including Kelrick Martin, Aaron Fa'aoso, Vicki Couzens, Brendan Kennedy and Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir discuss campaigns across the country to revitalise and celebrate Indigenous languages. They talk about the utility, beauty and knowledge contained within both traditional and modern, changing languages – and the efforts to recognise and preserve them.

Looking for Auslan? Check out the video of this event.

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