The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) and Torres Strait Language Reference Group have launched the Torres Strait Traditional Languages Plan and Charter (2016-2019).
The Plan and Charter are product of the 2015 Torres Strait Language Symposium, which have been developed by the Language Reference Group in consultation with the community and TSRA, aiming to assist in the maintenance and revitalisation of languages.
TSRA Chairperson, Mr Pedro Stephen AM, said the Symposium was a way of bringing communities together to discuss the state of the region’s traditional languages and plan for how to capitalise on some of the great work already being done in the language revitalisation space.
“The Symposium saw language specialists from across the Torres Strait come together to celebrate and plan for the future of the region’s rich but endangered traditional languages,” Mr Stephen said.
“A key outcome of this was the formation of the community-driven Torres Strait Language Reference Group - made up of elected representatives of each of the five language and dialect groups in the Torres Strait.
“The importance of the group’s work was underpinned by the knowledge that traditional languages of the Torres Strait were critically endangered.”
Mr Stephen said the TSRA received funding through the Australian Government Ministry for the Arts, for the establishment of a Regional Language Centre.
“The Traditional Languages Plan and Charter developed by the Language Reference Group has been an essential first step to guide the work of the future language centre,” Mr Stephen said.
“The role of the Regional Language Centre would be to provide resources to support language revitalisation in local communities through local community teams.
“Once the Languages Centre is operation, it is an aspiration that a new community-based organisation will assume responsibility for the implementation of the plan.”
Traditional languages are essential to the wellbeing, culture and identity of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples. The TSRA look forward to working collaboratively with communities going forward to deliver the plan.