House of Representatives Committees

House Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Stait Islander Affairs

Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Inquiry into language learning in Indigenous communities

Inquiry home | Terms of reference | Submissions | Media releases | Public hearings | Report

Information about the Inquiry

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Committee is one of a number of committees in the House of Representatives at Australian Parliament House. There are seven Committee Members; four government and three non-government. Committees run parliamentary inquiries into various topics, and this Committee is currently holding an inquiry into language learning in Indigenous communities.

During the Committee's previous inquiry into Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system, language was identified as an important component of cultural connection, strengthened intergenerational relationships and community building. Many people referred to language as playing a significant role in the wellbeing of young Indigenous people.

The Committee Chair approached appropriate Ministers for a terms of reference for an inquiry into Indigenous languages. On 5 July 2011 the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Minister for the Arts jointly referred the inquiry.

The Chair, Mr Shayne Neumann MP, and the Deputy Chair, The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP, made statements about the Inquiry to the House of Representatives on 20 June 2011.

Statement to the House of Representatives by Mr Shayne Neumann MP

Statement to the House of Representatives by The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP

The inquiry is interested in finding out about the links between Indigenous languages and improving education, community wellbeing, interpreting services and strategies to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage. The Committee will investigate how the use of Indigenous languages, particularly in early education, can assist in improving education and vocational outcomes where English is a second language. The Indigenous languages policies of Australian governments and the effectiveness of Indigenous language maintenance and revival will be investigated. Click here to link to the Federal Government's policy - Indigenous Languages - A National Approach.

The Committee is unable to provide financial assistance for projects, although based on the information we gather, the Committee may make general recommendations to the Federal Government to assist language learning in Indigenous communities.

The Federal Government should respond to the Committee's recommendations within 6 months of the release of the report. The Government may accept, partially accept, or reject the Committee's recommendations.

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