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$53.8 million Boost for First Nations Languages announced at the 2024 Zenadth Kes Language Symposium

Group photo of the delegates, staff and partners involved with the 2024 Zenadth Kes Language Symposium

The Albanese Government is committed to preserving Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal languages and dialects.

The recent federal budget included $53.8 million funding over four years to establish two new First Nations language centres, funding boosts for existing centres and support for language learning initiatives.

The announcement by TSIRC Mayor Phillemon Mosby and Kulkalgal Representative Board Member, made mid-way through the 2024 Zenadth Kes Language Symposium, was well received by over a hundred language educators, cultural practitioners, and language activists from across Zenadth Kes, meeting to review regional language maintenance efforts.

Torres Strait Regional Authority Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM supported the budget decision and said the TSRA will continue to advance traditional language conservation.

“We are seeing our government invest in real actions to improve First Nations people’s lives,” Mr Stephen said.

“The funding for language is part of the government’s commitment to the 2024 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan,

“It also supports UNESCO’s International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032),

“TSRA is committed to the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area regions to support language education, culture, and policy to increase the awareness and usage of our traditional languages,

“TSRA’s Traditional Languages Strategy and Torres Strait Dance Strategy are some of the cultural maintenance initiatives delivered by the Culture Art and Heritage Programme,

Torres Strait Traditional Languages Association (TSTLA) Chairperson Cygnet Repu welcomed the funding announcement as an opportunity to bolster language programs in the region.

“Driven by pillars of resilience, capability and innovation, our shared vision is to ensure our people speak and use traditional languages every day,” said Mr Repu.

“Australia’s Closing the Gap strategy, through Target 16 supports this vision and our objectives, and we hope to see this funding as a boost to existing and future efforts,”

First Languages Australia (FLA) CEO, Beau Williams who delivered a keynote at the symposium said FLA advocated for national legislative change.

“While this funding is a good start, we need to work towards national legislation to protect our languages and our culture,

“This will not only benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but it will enrich the broader community,” Mr Williams said.

The 2024 Zenadth Kes Language Symposium was held from 14-16 May at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Waibene (Thursday Island), in the Kaiwalagal region on the lands and waters of the Kaurareg Nation; proud speakers of the severely endangered Kala Lagaw Ya, Kawrareg Dialect.

Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people are advised this website may contain names, images and recordings of people who have passed.