Held in the first full week of July, NAIDOC Week is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements, and an opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society.
NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders’ Day Observance Committee and its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians.
This year NAIDOC Week will be held from Sunday 2 to Sunday 9 July. The theme – Our Languages Matter – emphasises and celebrates the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water, and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.
Some 250 distinct Indigenous language groups covered the continent at first (significant) European contact in the late eighteenth century. Most of these languages would have had several dialects, so that the total number of named varieties would have run to many hundreds. Today, only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost.
The importance, resilience and richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages is the focus of national celebrations marking NAIDOC Week 2017. The National NAIDOC Committee encourages all Australians to embrace the 2017 National NAIDOC theme and to explore the use of Indigenous languages in their community.
Many place names for our suburbs, rivers, mountains and parks have Indigenous language words. Observing and learning about these words generates greater appreciation and respect for the significance of Indigenous languages among all Australians.
State Library works to build capacity in communities to manage their language revival through the Indigenous Languages Project. Key activities under the project include the annual Research Discovery Workshop, community training workshops, and the Indigenous Languages Residency.
Research using the collections is uploaded to the State Library’s Indigenous Languages webpage which includes a range of language resources to support communities and language researchers, including research guides, wordlists, New Media Toolkit, interactive language resources Map of Queensland.
Further networking and sharing opportunities is enabled through the State Library’s Indigenous Languages Blog.
For assistance in engaging with your local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities, State Library’s Indigenous Library Services team may be able to help with identifying appropriate activities, books or services. Phone the team on 4042 5200.