Australia is the place of vanishing languages
Chris Raja, ABC, 19 November 2013

NORTHERN TERRITORY, AUSTRALIA: The definition of cultural heritage can vary. It can be physical – such as that contained in culturally-significant buildings, landscapes and artefacts – or intangible, contained in language, music, movies and customs, festivals, and food. But it’s not just old things, pretty things, or physical things. Cultural heritage involves strong human emotions. The role language, culture and heritage plays in a person’s life and community cannot be underestimated. Culture is the basis of all social identity and development, and cultural heritage is the legacy that each generation receives and passes on. In a sense, it is what makes us human. There are other considerations, such as what happens to a culture that is brought so low that its language is taken from it. Once you take away a nation’s language, you take away its soul. Once language is lost, people are forced to think and see the world differently. They lose their mother tongue.

In 2008, the NT Government announced that school programs were to be taught only in English for the first four hours of every school day. The policy was replaced with a new policy in 2012, which stated that home and local languages “can and should be used where appropriate to support the learning and acquisition of concepts.” The Four Hours In English policy had disastrous consequences. Languages are in threat of dying out. Australia is the place of vanishing languages. The truth is that the West, and in particular the English language, has run over most other languages and cultures like a semitrailer truck. It has been nothing short of devastating.

Recognising, respecting and celebrating languages, diversity and cultural heritage is integral to healthy, harmonious relationships. Cultural heritage is not static. Culture and language changes over time and approaches need to be dynamic and adaptive. Effective cultural heritage management can have wide economic, social and environmental benefits. Read the article …

Traditional owners pass on valuable knowledge
ABC Rural, 19 November 2013

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA: If you’re an indigenous man or woman, where better to learn how to care for your country than being on it with the guidance of your own traditional owners? That opportunity has just been provided to a group of 12 youngsters who headed out onto country, at Mt Molloy, near the headwaters of the Mitchell River. Under the watchful eye of “Uncle” Graham Brady, the participants of the program have been learning about ethnobotany, weeds, erosion and even how to kill an animal humanely. Read the article …

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