Describe the main features of the measure/initiative:
As reported by First Languages Australia, “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, our stories contain our knowledge, our history and our guiding pathways for the future. We cannot tell our stories without our language. Our language anchors our culture, it gives the meaning to our art and allows the truest expression of who we are and where we have come from.” First Languages Australia is the peak body committed to ensuring the future strength of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. In collaboration with language centres and programs nationally, we share the stories of the people, the histories and the diversity of our languages; we work to bring the best tools to our communities to enrich their teaching and sharing of language; and we pledge that by bringing strong partners to share our commitment, the first voices of this land will be heard clearly and loudly into the future. As language is vital to all aspects of life, our organisation’s scope is necessarily broad. We initiate, and collaborate on, a diverse range of projects targeting different audiences (for example: policy makers, the public, educators, media, language custodians, young people), all with the intention of supporting language custodians in reaching their language goals. Across the country language custodians are working to ensure their languages are spoken into the future. It is a radical understatement to say that in Australia this is no small task. With the long-term future in mind, as well as considering their families today, each community prioritises their personal time and resources in their effort to reach their language goals. Junyirri: A framework for planning a community language projects (2017) can be useful in helping community language teams come to an understanding of whether the time is right to commit the time and energy required to develop, implement and maintain the delivery of a local language curriculum in partnership with local schools. Language communities are very aware of the competing demands on their time and all decisions are made based on prioritised needs. Deciding to work with a school – with an awareness of the high level of regulation, required reporting and staff turnover, and the ever-changing political priorities – is a significant commitment and risk. However, for some, schools and learning institutions are prioritised as critical sites of language activity. With this in mind, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) released the Australian Curriculum Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages in 2015. The Framework guides Australian schools in the teaching and learning of the languages of this country from Foundation to Year 10. The Framework is intended to help schools and language custodians who wish to work together to develop local language teaching and learning programs, ensure their programs are on the same level as other language learning programs in terms of teaching, learning and assessing. It is designed to be very flexible and to be adapted for each unique language, community and school; and can support the teaching of all Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages, including: languages used everyday communication within a community; languages being revived; or one of the many creole languages that have evolved through the history of language contact in Australia, such as Kriol, Torres Strait Creole and other new varieties. The release of the Framework represented a significant step in acknowledging the national importance and value of our languages. However, its sustainable implementation requires diverse actions across four core areas: government and policy, teacher training and employment, knowledge and resources, and school community relationships. In 2019, First Languages Australia (FLA), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language centres, educators and the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) began working together to identify ways to support Indigenous language educators and encourage the long-term uptake of Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages in Australian school classrooms. This current project builds on collaborations with language centres and teachers nationally with support from the Indigenous Languages and Arts team in the Office for the Arts, within the Australian Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, a summary of which is published as Nintiringanyi: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Language Teaching and Employment Strategy (2018). The current project consists of three pillars through which to boost Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages education in schools. These are: 1. Research into best-practice implementation of the Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages. 2. The development of resources to promote best-practice implementation of the Framework. 3. The development of a culturally appropriate Indigenous language education workforce strategy. First Languages Australia is collaborating with language centres, educators, education departments, registered training organisations, universities and academics nationally to undertake and report on actions under the above headings. A report on each of the Three Pillars will be prepared for DESE. The final report on project outcomes and recommendations for future work be provided to DESE in 2022 after which First Languages Australia and DESE will work together to establish implementation pathways.
What are the results achieved so far through the implementation of the measure/initiative?:
Pillar one of the project is nearing completion. This has included: • The identification of a broad range of stakeholders positioned to support Framework delivery. • Collaboration with each of the stakeholders around the project activities. • Each of the state and territory education authorities working with First Languages Australia to outline the work happening in their regions toward sustainable delivery of the Framework. • Profiling the resources available to support framework delivery. • Spotlighting the systemic issues that undermine successful framework implementation. • Highlighting the actions required to see best-practice framework delivery. Discussions with partners through pillar one has reiterated the need for all language activities in school to be community lead, with sustainable resources required to support the involvement of what are otherwise unfunded (or radically underfunded) community language teams. Furthermore, for the teaching of local language in schools to be sustainable, local curriculum delivery needs to include such things as: On Country learning and excursions, external resource production, content integrated learning, educator training, industrial relations tools, community language learning, teaching teams, whole of school awareness and support, associated community collaborations, community school agreements and systems established to ensure that that efforts dedicated to program establishment cannot be undermined by schools administrative changes. Pillar two of the project is underway. This pillar involves working with partner organisations to develop and test professional development activities and resources for the range of audiences including community educators, registered language teachers, and supporting teachers and administrators. The activities are currently in development and will be tested throughout 2021. Work on pillar three of the project will commence in the second half of 2021, bringing together community language centres, unions and education authorities to establish appropriate industrial relations tools to support language educators wishing to work with schools.