why is this important?

There are more than 40 Aboriginal Language groups across Victoria. Language is a part of culture and is an expression of identity, connection to Country and self-determination. When First Peoples use and speak Language, they are maintaining an ancient connection   spanning thousands of years, keeping words alive that were once spoken by their Ancestors. The use, protection, preservation and revival of Aboriginal Languages are important acts of truth-telling and reconciliation.

One of the many impacts of colonisation was the attempted erasure of Aboriginal Languages. First Peoples were denied the right to learn and use Language and were forced to learn and speak English, therefore limiting their connection to culture. The use of Aboriginal Languages by local councils can reinforce shared histories and build awareness of First Peoples. It helps to strengthen links between local government and First Peoples by building a welcoming and culturally safe environment for First Peoples.

Recommended Strategies

  • Work with Traditional Owners to identify opportunities in which Aboriginal Language can be recognised locally.
  • Develop guidelines in consultation with Traditional Owners for the naming of geographic features with Language names. 
  • Connect with the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages to find out how you can support their work in promoting and reviving Victoria’s Aboriginal Languages. 
  • Conduct an audit of buildings and geographic features in your municipality, and change any racist names to Aboriginal Language names.
  • Use Aboriginal Language on signage around the municipality.
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Case Studies

The City of Darebin incorporate Woi wurrung Language in many different ways across their municipality. Signage acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi wurrung People as the Traditional Owners of the land and welcomes guests to the municipality in Woi wurrung Language. The City of Darebin has also renamed council meeting rooms to Woi wurrung Language names.

links & resources

Victorian Aboriginal Languages | Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre

The Naming Rules | Victorian Government

Aboriginal Place Naming | Victorian Government

Our Places Our Names | Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council

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