House of Representatives Committees

| Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs

Inquiry into language learning in Indigenous communities

Information about the Inquiry

The Committee invites interested persons and organisations to make submissions addressing the terms of reference.  Late submissions will be accepted, please contact the Secretariat on the details below to arrange an extension of time. Please refer to our brochure called  preparing a submission for more information.

In order to facilitate electronic publishing of submissions, the Committee would prefer them to be uploaded on  the  online where possible or  at emailed to  atsia.reps@aph.gov.au   in  Microsoft Word ® or PDF format.

The Committee welcomes information and comments about specific language projects in communities. Click below for a questionnaire about your group project.

Please note we are unable to provide financial assistance for projects, although based on the information we gather, the Committee may make general recommendations to the Government to assist language learning in Indigenous Communities.

Background to 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.

As part of the inquiry, the Committee invites submissions from interested organisations and individuals, relating to the terms of reference. A submission can be long or short and there is no set format. A submission sets out your views about any or all of the terms of reference. To find out more about  preparing a submission to a Committee inquiry follow this link.

The Committee is also seeking responses to a questionnaire. The questionnaire aims to find out about specific language projects in communities across Australia and is intended to be used as a guide for people to make a submission to the inquiry.

In addition, the Committee holds public hearings around Australia to hear from individuals, community members and various bodies related to language learning in Indigenous communities. The information received at public meetings or hearings and the submissions to the inquiry will go towards the Committee's final report on the inquiry. At this stage the Committee anticipates it will complete its report into Indigenous languages in the  second half of 2012.

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.


For further information, contact:

Committee Secretary
House of Representatives Standing Committee on
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
PO Box 6021
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600
AUSTRALIA

Phone:(02) 6277 4559
Fax:(02) 6277 4427
Email:atsia.reps@aph.gov.au

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