Community, Funding, News, Partnerships, Rio Tinto

Rio empowers preservation of First Nations languages

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) has officially unveiled the AIATSIS Centre for Australian Languages, with the support of funding from Rio Tinto.

According to AIATSIS, it is Australia’s only national institution solely focused on the diverse history, cultures and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.

The institute shares stories about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia and creates opportunities for people to encounter and engage with those stories.

An example of this is the ‘Our Languages Keep Us Strong’ program, which launched in 2023 and is dedicated to protecting and preserving Indigenous Australian cultures, knowledge and languages.

“AIATSIS is dedicated to community-led language revitalisation efforts, and I firmly believe that our key objectives, including consistent baseline documentation, community-based revitalisation, support for teaching and learning, evidence-based monitoring, and fostering collaboration among language communities, can pave the way for Indigenous cultures to thrive,” AIATSIS interim chief executive officer (CEO) Leonard Hill said.

In 2022, Rio Tinto pledged $10 million over a five-year period for the establishment and implementation of the AIATSIS Centre for Australian Languages and the ‘Our Languages Keep Us Strong’ program.

Rio Tinto Australia CEO Kellie Parker described the debut of the AIATSIS Centre for Australian Languages in June at the 2024 AIATSIS Summit in Melbourne as “significant” for the preservation of the linguistic diversity of Australia’s First Nations people.

“AIATSIS plays a vital role in preserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and cultures, ensuring their recognition, respect and celebration,” Parker said.

“Through community-driven initiatives, AIATSIS, is paving the way for a future where Indigenous languages continue to thrive, ensuring that the rich tapestry of Indigenous culture endures for future generations.

“Rio Tinto’s support for this and other initiatives is part of our ‘Living Languages Living Cultures program’ which invests in preserving, reviving, and celebrating Indigenous cultures in Australia.”

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