Aboriginal Languages

Why is this important?

Prior to colonisation there were approximately 40 Aboriginal languages spoken in Victoria.

For Aboriginal people today, the use, recording, revival and research of Aboriginal languages is an important way of recognising their culture and the journey towards reconciliation.

The use of Aboriginal language in the naming and signage of local places and landmarks can reinforce shared histories and build awareness of Aboriginal people. It helps to strengthen links between local government and Aboriginal people by building a welcoming environment for Aboriginal people.


What can your Council do?

Councils can promote Aboriginal languages in a number of ways:

  • Work with Traditional Owners and local Aboriginal communities to identify opportunities in which Aboriginal language can be recognised locally. This may include signage that reflects Aboriginal histories, cultural knowledge and traditions.
  • Ensure guidelines, including consultation with Aboriginal communities, are followed for formally naming geographic features with traditional Aboriginal names (Read more about guidelines of naming places  or download Guidelines for Geographic Names (2010).
  • The Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL) is actively involved in promoting and reviving Victoria’s Aboriginal languages.  VACL can work with local governments and Aboriginal communities around naming and use of language in signage. Visit: www.vaclang.org.au.

Good practice examples

Signage acknowledging the Wurundjeri people as the Traditional Owners and containing a traditional Wurundjeri welcome greets people entering the City of Darebin.

The City of Ballarat acknowledges the Traditional Owners through welcome and goodbye signs along the Western Highway in language.

The Glenelg Aboriginal Partnership Plan 2011-13 lists actions that will acknowledge and recognise local Aboriginal people as traditional landowners. These include developing naming protocols to provide Aboriginal names to streets, parks, facilities and reserves. The new Child and Family Complex in Portland will be provided with an Aboriginal name.

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