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New South Wales boosts language revitalisation with scholarship program

Jarred Cross -

NSW Aboriginal Languages Trust executive director Clare McHugh says a major boost for scholarships will help end "sacrifice" weighing-down efforts to revitalise traditional language.

The government body is issuing $200,000 from their budget towards a three-tier scholarship program for mob learning or teaching Aboriginal Languages in the state.

Aboriginal Languages Educational Scholarships apply to a range of participation levels through universities, TAFE and Aboriginal organisations.

The first tier offers up to $9,999 a year to individuals in the early stages of their language learning.

The second has $10,000 to $24,999 a year available for further development in language learning or teaching.

$25,000 to $50,000 annually is available under the third tier to support expertise in learning or teaching through a tertiary course.

Ms McHugh, a Gamilaroi and Dhungutti woman, said the investment is crucial, and badly required.

"The Trust believes those working to revive and reclaim Aboriginal Languages across NSW should be supported," she said.

"We hear stories from Aboriginal Language practitioners and teachers who with little to no support have pursued the learning of their Languages just to pass that knowledge on.

"This Scholarship Program recognises that we shouldn't have to sacrifice anymore to reclaim what is rightfully ours."

The Trust earmarks working 'with Communities and the education sector to design Aboriginal-led solutions to increase the number of Aboriginal adult Languages speakers and teachers, including through the development of alternative qualification and learning pathways that recognise Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge and ways of knowing,' in its 2022-2027 strategic plan.

NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty David Harris said it's a continuation of investment the state government has committed to.

The state has invested over four million dollars in the past 12 months to Aboriginal Language Programs, with specific legislation in place for language preservation.

"I am proud that this Government has more than doubled the investment into Aboriginal communities to support their efforts to reawaken and reclaim languages," Minister Harris said.

"These scholarships are an investment to grow the number of adult Aboriginal Language speakers and teachers. This is urgently needed to increase the number and strength of Aboriginal Languages being spoken. I encourage Aboriginal people to apply.

"There are still too few Aboriginal Languages speakers in NSW. The Scholarship Program is a direct response to calls from Aboriginal Languages stakeholders who are struggling to meet the demand for Aboriginal Languages lessons."

The Minister noted that Language "means everything to these communities".

"It's part of their past, has shaped who they are today and must be preserved and enhanced for the future."

Details and avenues to apply are available at the Aboriginal Languages Trust website. Applications close January 28.

$200,000 in grants have been allocated to scholarships supporting education and teaching of Aboriginal Language in NSW. (Image: Aboriginal Languages Trust Facebook)

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