The cultures of Australia’s First Peoples, recognised as the oldest and most enduring cultures in the world, are among the most vulnerable to language and song loss.
Less than ten per cent of Australia’s languages are comprehensively documented. One or two languages disappear every year. Of more than 300 languages that existed pre-colonisation, fewer than half remain and all are considered endangered, many critically.
Even more fragile than language, songs are often lost before languages. AIATSIS holds the largest collection of recordings of Song Cycles in the world, which are key conduits to sacred Indigenous knowledge systems. However, these are just a small proportion of the material that is held in the living memory of the most senior elders.
Committed work through generous donations and grants in the last five years have enabled the reawakening of least 31 languages that have not been used for some time, but now have new speakers.
Your support will mean that languages at risk of becoming critically endangered over the next ten years will be maintained, strengthened and or revived, that long forgotten songlines will be recorded and precious Indigenous culture and heritage will be safeguarded in the AIATSIS Collections for the use of communities of origin for many generations to come.
Your donation to the AIATSIS Foundation will directly impact forever on the future of all Australians to engage with the first words and songs of this nation.