The federal opposition has committed to employing 60 language teachers to teach First Nations languages, under a $14 million plan that aims to keep First Nations languages alive, boost school attendance, and lift academic results.
Shadow minister for education Tanya Plibersek launched the plan and said the learning of First Nations languages by Indigenous students has the benefit of improving Indigenous children’s self-esteem and boosting their attendance at school.
“For non-Indigenous students, learning First Nations languages gives them a deeper understanding and appreciation of the cultures and histories of Australia’s first people,” Plibersek said.
The plan to place the 60 teachers in 60 schools with have direct input from First Nations communities.
Schools will be able to apply to be a part of the program, with the ALP committing to work with state and territory governments to allocate teaching resources by need.
Dr Scott Winch, a co-chair of the Know Your Country campaign, said that learning a First Nations’ language is a way for students in primary schools to learn from and connect with First Nations people and communities.
“This approach will help build stronger and more in-depth knowledge for kids about local ecosystems of the country on which their schools are located,” Winch said.
“There are also great educational benefits for improved learning outcomes for all children when a second language is learnt.”
Indigenous businessman and commentator Warren Mundine welcomed the notion of a national program.
He said the policy put forward by the ALP on the teaching of First Nations languages expands upon the kind of work already being done in New South Wales.
Mundine said programs designed to teach First Nations languages will improve learning outcomes.