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Indigenous languages preservation: Dictionaries project

AIATSIS Dictionaries Program EOI

Are you a linguist or community that would like to have your Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language dictionary published?

The advancement of language is critical to strengthening the cultures, identities, and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. As part of our contribution to advancing languages, AIATSIS funds the publication of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language dictionaries. 

Throughout Australia, dictionary databases have been created for languages. In many cases, lack of funding has prevented publication from taking place. In numerous other cases, publication has taken place in low-quality physical formats, which over time have now deteriorated, leaving communities without a dictionary.

To date, we have funded the publication of 20+ dictionaries:

Recipients of our funding are based on four main criteria:

  1. The dictionary must be ready for publication within six months of applying for funding.
  2. The dictionary must be supported by the relevant Indigenous language community or communities.
  3. Community members must be meaningfully engaged in its development.
  4. The dictionary is rated highly by an AIATSIS Dictionaries Assessment Panel in terms of:
    1. Significance (e.g., importance to the community)
    2. Quality (e.g., richness of entries, number of entries, ease of use, reader guidance such as maps, grammatical information, etc.)

If you are developing a dictionary that you believe meets our criteria, we encourage you to download and complete the Expression of Interest form, then email it to along with any attachments mentioned within.

If you are unsure of whether your dictionary qualifies for funding within the AIATSIS Dictionaries Program, please email us your contact details and we will arrange a time to discuss this with you.

Please note:

  • AIATSIS does not seek copyright. Any material submitted to us will not be used outside of the assessment process. 
  • Dictionaries can be published with AIATSIS’s publishing arm, Aboriginal Studies Press, or with a publisher of your choice.
  • The Dictionaries Program does not generally cover salary for the preparation of dictionaries, but it may cover research assistant fees and fees for the preparation of artwork for the dictionary.

AIATSIS acknowledges the financial support received from the National Indigenous Australians Agency to facilitate this program.

Last updated: 17 June 2024