Protecting Aboriginal Languages Locally

Protecting Aboriginal Languages Locally

Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams has congratulated Port Macquarie-Hastings Council on the progression of designs for the installation of new signage at the entrances to towns and villages in the local government area.

“The proposal to incorporate signature materials, local timbers and themed colour palettes to create a unique signage system will no doubt be welcomed.

Mrs Williams said, “As consideration is given to the detailed concept designs I would ask that Council consider the inclusion of local Aboriginal language into the signage.

“Many local councils have already taken steps to incorporate Aboriginal language into town and village entry points as well as at visitor arrival areas including airports. Sutherland Shire Council, Shoalhaven City Council and Dubbo Regional Council provide examples of signage recognising Aboriginal heritage,” Mrs Williams said.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council’s Statement of Reconciliation and Commitment is to be commended, acknowledging in its initial paragraph that ‘Aboriginal people were the original occupants and inhabitants of this land’. Additionally, the Statement ‘supports the peoples’ movement towards Reconciliation and seeks to give practical expressions to this process through its actions.’

“The inclusion of Aboriginal language in the signage would play an important role in advancing reconciliation through the recognition of the long history of Aboriginal occupation in the Port Macquarie-Hastings area and specifically;

Recognise that Aboriginal people were the first inhabitants of the local area;

Promote an increased understanding and awareness of our Aboriginal
cultural heritage that would strengthen and enrich our community;

Promote the local Aboriginal language thereby ensuring its protection and

“In my role as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in NSW, Aboriginal people have told me that language is indivisible from their identity and I am sure people would agree that the cultural inheritance of our Aboriginal community is too precious to be lost.

“Like all Aboriginal languages and dialects, those once spoken by the number of different clans that occupied our local area are critically endangered. In November, I announced that NSW will become the first state in Australia to introduce landmark legislation to protect traditional Aboriginal languages.

“I believe that local government can practically support this endeavour to protect and revitalise language by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on town and village signage such as that which is currently being considered by Council,” Mrs Williams said.

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