Naidoc Week 2017

The importance, resilience and richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are the focus of national celebrations marking NAIDOC Week 2017.

The theme - Our Languages Matter - aims to emphasize and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.

Some 250 distinct Indigenous language groups covered the continent at first (significant) European contact in the late eighteenth century. Most of these languages would have had several dialects, so that the total number of named varieties would have run to many hundreds.

Today only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost as Elders pass on.

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

Committee Co-Chair Benjamin Mitchell hopes that the theme will shine a spotlight on the programs and community groups working to preserve, revitalize or record Indigenous languages, and encourage all Australians to notice the use of Indigenous languages in their community.