The successful campaign for federal recognition of Aborginal languages was run by the Big hART funded Ngapartji-Ngapartji project (I give you something, you give me something)
Call the ‘kata – alipiri – muti – tjina’ (head, shoulders knees and toes – or feet) approach to campaigning, Alex Kelly and Melanie Gillbank have promoted Indigenous languages for many years and Alex collected over 50 letters of support which were presented to Minister Macklin, and the advisors to Ministers Peter Garret, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, in the meeting in Canberra on June 23rd. This meeting was also attended by long-term passionate language advocates Kevin Lowe, Eastern States Indigenous Languages Working Group and Inspector for Aboriginal Education at the Board of Studies NSW, and Faith Baisden, who is on the Queensland Indigenous Language Advisory Committee and works for The State Library of Queensland’s Indigenous Languages Project.
According to Alex: ‘it was a very quick meeting – 25 minutes seemed to flash past. It was fantastic to have advisers from four offices, including the PM and Deputy PM there as well as an executive staff member from DEWHA (Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts) which is Garrett’s dept and where the language program sits…The meeting felt very much as if Macklin was onside and supportive and the conclusion was that she would talk with Garrett and Gillard when they are back in Australia about making a joint statement regarding commitment to developing a policy!!’
Only days after this meeting, DEWHA commenced drafting an Indigenous Languages Action Plan and will coordinate this process through relevant Government agencies before consulting with key indigenous stakeholders. Obviously this is only the start of a long process but it demonstrates a commitment to the issues around indigenous languages being taken seriously at a federal level.
Also see the summary of State by State support for languages