NSW Aboriginal Languages Bill introduced to Parliament

11 Octoer 2017

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) has called for reasonable and appropriate amendments to a Bill for Aboriginal languages, stressing the need to balance Government powers, community ownership and self-determination.

Chair Roy Ah-See said the Bill was a historic opportunity address the wrongs of past Government practices and the NSWALC attended today's tabling of the Bill with great anticipation.

But Cr Ah-See said a better balance between Government, Aboriginal language owners and communities was needed before the Bill became legislation.

He said the NSWALC would work cooperatively with Government and other parties to improve the Bill.

Cr Ah-See said NSWALC has consistently maintained strong support for legislation of this nature given the significant historical impact of government control over the lives of Aboriginal peoples and their languages in New South Wales.

Cr Ah-See acknowledged the symbolic gesture of the NSW Parliament's Legislative Council which for the first time saw Aboriginal community members speak in their various languages.

Reinforcing NSWALC's willingness to work on amendments to the Bill, Cr Ah-See said any legislation relating to Aboriginal languages must have Aboriginal community control at its heart.

"The NSW Aboriginal Land Council is concerned that the legislation could seek to impose ministerial controls or intervention in relation to Aboriginal languages.

"For many years, our communities have worked tirelessly to retain, teach and promote Aboriginal languages.

"Government can never own or control our languages and its role must be to work in partnership with Aboriginal interests. Aboriginal community control of Aboriginal languages is essential."                                                                                                                 

Cr Ah-See said the NSWALC respected the views of Aboriginal language organisations and experts and that any legislation must involve the full and proper consultation with the owners of languages.

"The NSW Aboriginal Land Council will continue to advocate for the Aboriginal languages legislation that represents the best interests of Aboriginal peoples in New South Wales."

Media contact: Andrew Williams 0429 585 291