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Paper and Talk 2023

Living Languages and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) are running another Paper and Talk workshop in October 2023.

The two-week workshop will be held in Canberra from 16 to 27 October and will provide five groups of two to three Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people the opportunity to access and recover language materials from AIATSIS and other collecting institutions.

Participants will receive training and one-on-one support to understand, interpret and use these materials in their language revitalisation efforts.

We are calling for expressions of interest from groups of two-to-three people working together on their language.

This event has now concluded.


Maraga building
Mabo room
51 Lawson Crescent,
Acton ACT 2601

If selected, your group will:

  • Receive training both before and during the workshop in searching the archives and retrieving your language materials.
  • Receive training in linguistics and other skills/knowledge to be able to understand the materials you uncover and use them in your language work.
  • Visit other important archives located in Canberra. 
  • Be supported to use your materials to work towards a specific language project of your choice, or to develop a language resource that you can take home to your Community.
  • Be paired with a Linguist Partner who will support your group during the workshop. This will be an experienced linguist or language worker who can provide support and advice as needed.
  • Have access to linguists, language workers, language work trainers, and archivists to answer questions and support you in your language work.
  • Be able to network and share with four other groups from around the country who are also working on strengthening their languages.

Our Partner

Living Languages

Living Languages supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their efforts to preserve and grow their languages, through grassroots training for people, communities and Language Centres. We work with people who approach us for support and training, working with them to create tailored training programs and workshops that will best support their language work and goals - whether learning it, teaching it, working in a language centre, or just getting started. 

Frequently asked questions

  • What are the costs?

    The workshop will be free to attend for the successful participants, with all food, travel, and accommodation costs covered.

    Most nights and the weekend will be free time, but you will receive a meals allowance for any meals we don’t provide. Any additional activities you choose to do in these times will be at your own expense.

  • What support is available if we find materials that are potentially traumatic/distressing?

    We recognise that doing language work can bring up difficult feelings, triggers and trauma, and that materials you find in the archives may contain distressing or even offensive comments or images. We will provide a range of support options to make this as safe a space for you and your group as possible, such as dedicated time for participants to share and debrief, on-site support people, and access to professional counselling.

  • Will I have any free time?

    Yes! The workshop will run from Monday to Friday. You will have free time most nights and on the weekend, but we will also organise some social events and outings if you would like to attend.

  • What can our language project be?

    Your group will receive training and one-on-one support to work on a project of your choosing during the workshop, using the materials you have recovered from the archives. This will be up to you, but could look like some language teaching resources, a presentation about your language, a story, poem or song in language, a welcome to Country or acknowledgment of Country, or a map of your Country using information you’ve recovered.

  • Can our group take all the materials on our language in the AIATSIS archives back to our community?  

    AIATSIS has specific rules on the return of materials to Indigenous communities that are outlined here
    AIATSIS and Paper and Talk will strive to return as much material as possible to communities, but the amount will depend on exactly what is available, its condition, its copyright status, and whether it has been digitised, among other factors.

  • If I am not selected this time, can I apply again next time? 

    Absolutely! Successful participants may be chosen for a number of reasons, and these factors may change in the short term (e.g., digitisation of archives). So, we strongly encourage communities that have previously unaccessed language resources in the AIATSIS Collection who are not successful this time to apply again in 2025.

    In the meantime, you can still apply to AIATSIS to access your language materials, or apply to Living Languages for training.

We are grateful to the Indigenous Languages and Arts program for funding this workshop.


Last updated: 19 December 2023