NAIDOC Week 2017 - 'Our Languages Matter'

NAIDOC Week or ‘National Aboriginal and Islanders Day of Observance Committee’ is this week! 

This celebratory week is designed to recognise Indigenous cultures, their communities and understand the valuable contributions Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders have made to our country. 

NAIDOC Week has a long and rich history that began as early as the 1920’s and it has since grown into an inclusive and appreciative week across Australia. 

This year's theme is ‘Our Languages Matter’ and it aims to emphasise and celebrate the essential role Indigenous people play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history via word of mouth. 

When European settlers came to Australia in the late 18th century, there was around 250 distinct Indigenous languages spoken, each with their own different dialects. 

Today, of those 250 languages, only 120 are spoken with many more at risk of being forgotten as Elders pass on before they can educate their younger generations. 

National NAIDOC Committee Co-Chair Anne Martin said languages are the breath of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and this theme will raise awareness of the status and importance of Indigenous languages across Australia. 

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages are not just a means of communication, they express knowledge about everything; law, geography, history, family and human relationships, philosophy, religion, anatomy, childcare, health, caring for country, astronomy, biology and food.

“Each language is associated with an area of land and has a deep spiritual significance and it is through their own languages, that Indigenous nations maintain their connection with their ancestors, land and law,” says Mrs Martin. 

NAIDOC Week has kicked off with a number of events around you, hosted by the National NAIDOC Organisation and other events held across Perth.  

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