Australia wake of this, will better educate our

Australia
has become one of the most ethnically diverse societies in the world. With
almost one in four Australian residents being born outside of Australia, with
many more, being first or second generation Australians. I am proud to say,
that the Australian identity and spirit has been built upon the variety of
backgrounds present. Despite the sustained efforts of the Australian government
to uphold the multicultural spirit, I feel that the ever-growing issue of
linguicide has not been adequately addressed.

On a
global scale, linguicide is reaping through indigenous communities; with the
Aborigines, as being one of the prime examples. Australia has set a record for
‘linguicide’. It is estimated that “92 percent of the indigenous languages are
fading” or have “already died” (1). This subjects the ‘First One’s’ of our
land, to losing the very foundations and core values of what their culture was
built upon. With the indigenous Australians having inhabited Australia for over
50,000 years, their very survival, lies in the hands of the Australian
government. There is still a lot that can be done, to preserve this culture,
through a raise for awareness to linguicide in Australia. Currently, there are
20 (from an original 250) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages that
are widely spoken. By raising awareness for the 13 current aboriginal languages
that remain critically endangered, as well as providing an environment to
nurture the growth of ones that are widely spoken, will revitalise a whole
culture and in the wake of this, will better educate our communities.

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There
are many examples in history, where a language and a culture , was on the
borderline of being wiped out, but was saved due to a considerable amount of
effort, with it being both on an individual and national scale. One example
includes Hebrew. Now being the national language of Israel, it was close to
extinction in the 19th century (following prejudice towards Jews and hence,
they accumulated to a small population). This language was revived by Ben
Yehuda, the lexicographer of modern Hebrew. He paved the way by deciding
amongst a group of friends, that only Hebrew was to be spoken. Which led to his
movement and his life dedications, towards reviving Hebrew. His main drive to
revive the language, was due to deep religious and cultural ties that Hebrew
holds to Judaism and culture of the Israelites. Thus, demonstrating how
language has shaped the culture of Israel today. and this highlights the dire
need for the federal parliament, to construct a plan to take a practical
approach to reviving the dying Aboriginal languages. This example can be looked
up to as an inspiration. With a focused drive ensued by our government in
raising awareness about linguicide, we can hopefully guarantee our future generations
thriving within a community, in which the historical significance and cultural
values of this land, is something that they are brought up with and embedded as
part of their proud Australian identity.

 

Moreover,
I believe our neighbouring country, New Zealand, have shown the world, through
their actions and sustained efforts, on how to practically integrate the native
values as well the strong traditions of the Maori people, in the daily lives of
all people. The indigenous people have a strong influence in the social
construct and society. Their traditions are enthusiastically modelled to and
children are inclined towards learning more about the indigenous culture, out
of their own interest. For example, the government has set up numerous educational
schemes and projects that are cohesive with the educational curriculum.  This shows how the government plays an active
role, to promote values and spark interest amongst the youth, to the culture
and heritage of the Maori people.

 Applied examples of how language has shaped
the effort in preserving the culture is also apparent. Rugby is by far the most
popular sport in New Zealand (similar as to how it is popular in Australia as
well). The national rugby players that children look up to, perform the ‘Haka’
dance, prior to every rugby match, with the ‘dance’ and the words, all stemming
from the Maori traditions, it is performed to intimidate the opposing team and
is famous, worldwide, for this very reason. 
Hence, children also attempt to impersonate these rugby players from a
young age and so subconsciously, this is one of the ways in which the language
and heritage of the Maori people are kept alive, by not being something
enforced on people, rather by it being presented as something desirable, which
I feel is one of the fundamental points that the Australian government should
consider, when attempting to revive the Aboriginal languages. In addition to
this, the government has also prescribed Maori, as being one of 3 official
languages of New Zealand. The continued efforts of the government, have allowed
the Maori language to grow to be spoken by over 125,000 people in New Zealand
(2) further exemplifying the paramount holdings of the Maori people to New
Zealand and instilling a sense of pride within the people who speak the
language. All of which allow for language to shape define the culture and is
something that the people would proudly identify with.

To
conclude, on behalf of all the members of the IWC and for the prosperity of our
indigenous people. I plead that your honour will consider the implications that
linguicide is having on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that
are native to our land and raise this as an issue in the federal parliament so
that hopefully, we can hope for a brighter tomorrow.