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Indigenous Language and Songlines

Indigenous Language

A key feature of Early Childhood Education is the ability to learn in dual language.  The benefits for Indigenous children of learning in dual language are considerable.  The follow on of maintaining Indigenous culture is evident.  AIATSIS is supporting this critical work through the establishment of Indigenous language dictionaries.  With our network of researcher and linguists and strong link to community we are well place to efficiently and effectively provide key learning materials to enable educational programs to embrace dual language. UNESCO has declared 2019 the year of Indigenous language.  Through the foundation we will link donors to projects that will not only make a real impact in the learning of Indigenous children but enable every Australian to share in the story of their nation.

Songlines – Preserving People and Place through Song

Songlines is a bold initiative to save a critical part of our nation’s unique cultural heritage contained in Indigenous song traditions that connect people to country. Songlines aims to engage Indigenous communities and researchers to document Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples song traditions.

Contained in the Songlines of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is the knowledge of this land and its first peoples, transmitted through thousands of generations.  These songs contain philosophical, legal and religious traditions and an understanding of the essential relationship between people and place.  They articulate and embody Indigenous peoples’ ongoing connection to and ownership of country.

Some of these traditions are under critical pressure and there are few opportunities for communities to carry these traditions on through traditional means of ceremony and performance.  Many of the song men and women are ageing.  Through the Songlines project AIATSIS is looking to support these knowledge holders to ensure their legacy is preserved and is strengthened and renewed by the next generation.

The project team have been working with the Guugu Yimidhirr community at Hope Vale in Cape York to record important cultural songs for preservation into the future. The project has also connected people with older song recordings held in the AIATSIS archive. Researchers worked with Guugu Yimidhirr Elder, Frankie Deemal to transcribe and translate songs that had ceased to be sung, so that they can be learned again, strengthening the song traditions of the region. Read more about this work (PDF, 1.6MB).