© ABC NEWS
A Federal Parliamentary committee says it received crystal clear evidence that school attendance rates would improve if Indigenous children were taught in their first language.
Parliament’s Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs has released a bipartisan report calling for more action to protect endangered Indigenous languages. Among the committee’s 30 recommendations is a call for more money to be spent on bilingual education for Indigenous children and an interpreting service for Indigenous languages.
It says before white settlement 250 Indigenous languages were in use, but today only 18 remain strong in the sense that they are spoken by significant numbers across all age groups.
The deputy chairwoman of the committee, Liberal MP Sharman Stone, says children learn best if they begin their schooling being taught in their first language.
“That is a fundamental understanding internationally but something we haven’t grasped in Australia,” she said. “So the recommendations about early learning are that the child’s language should be identified very early and the teacher should be skilled in teaching in a multicultural setting.
“That’s not standard in Australian teaching or teacher training. It should be.”
She says there are enormous benefits from being able to maintain Indigenous languages.
“When they are able to speak and preserve and indeed restore their Indigenous languages there’s enormous advantage in their sense of wellbeing, their sense of self esteem, their cultural retention, their unique and amazing Australian Aboriginal culture.”
The committee chairman, Labor MP Shayne Neumann, says the former Northern Territory government has conceded it was wrong to adopt a policy of teaching only in English in the mornings.
“When the Northern Territory Labor Government brought in that basic four hours of English only we saw a decline in school attendance and educational outcomes,” he said.
“And they reversed it - they reversed it in middle of this year having defended it, by the way, when we were up in Darwin taking evidence about it.
“And the minister was sitting there defending it and their officials defending it. “They reversed it after we left.”
He says translator services are important for hospitals, schools, prisons and courts.
“This committee recommends putting in place immediate measures to ensure competent interpreting services in the areas of health and justice sectors,” he said.
Signal Boost: National Museum Of The American Indian - Call For Applications For Native American Museum Professionals
The National Museum of the American Indian seeks applications for a one-year paid residency for entry-level Native American museum professionals interested in pursuing museum careers or those early in established careers who feel they would benefit from a residency at NMAI. The residency may be extended for a second year based upon exemplary performance. A successful candidate will demonstrate commitment to the museum profession through academic preparation, experience with paid or volunteer work at museums or community cultural centers, experience with exhibitions and/or collections research, and/or a track record of community-based scholarship. The Curatorial Resident will join the staff of NMAI’s Museum Scholarship group and will be assigned to exhibition development and/or collections research projects under the supervision of NMAI staff of the Museum Scholarship Group. The Resident will enjoy all the privileges and responsibilities of NMAI professional staff and work assignments will be created to assist with the development of professional skills necessary to the curatorial profession.
Applications should include: 1) complete curriculum vitae or professional resume; 1) an essay of no more than 1200 words describing the candidate’s career goals for museum work; what the candidate hopes to gain from the residency experience; and why the NMAI in particular can play an important role in the candidate’s career development. 3) a letter of support from an academic or community-based sponsor or mentor. Consideration will be given to candidates who can demonstrate how their experience will benefit their communities.
Compensation for the residency will be competitive with entry-level museum appointments in the Washington, D.C. area, accompanied by a benefits package including health insurance.
Applications for the first round are due by October 31, 2012. The successful candidate will be notified by November 16 and expected to begin in early 2013.
Send applications to: Patricia Scott, Cultural Resources Center, 4220 Silver Hill Road, Suitland, MD 20746-2863