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Strengthening Australian languages: between policy and practice

Language Policy Symposium Report Cover
Publication date
Research report
2022 Language Policy Symposium
Lauren W Reed
Alison L Mount
Denise Angelo

Prior to colonisation, hundreds of Indigenous languages were spoken in Australia. Just over two centuries later, only around 12 of these languages are still being acquired by children as their mother tongue from birth and spoken as their main language. As a result, Australia has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest rates of language loss worldwide.

On 26–27 September 2022, AIATSIS co-hosted a Language Policy Symposium with the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL) in Canberra. The theme of the symposium was: ‘Strengthening Australian languages: between policy and practice’. The event brought together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language workers to share their experiences strengthening and supporting their languages with one another, with policy makers and with other stakeholders.

In this report, we synthesise key themes that emerged from the various presentations, amplifying Indigenous voices and providing guidance to Australian policymakers and the public.

You can learn more about the event and access copies of selected presentations at