Aboriginal languages revitalised in NSW schools

School students will now be able to learn the Aboriginal language and culture of their area with a new Aboriginal language syllabus now available .

Students in NSW will soon be able to learn from the highest quality Aboriginal languages syllabus in the country with the release of a new Aboriginal Languages syllabus.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said NSW was proudly home to more than 35 Aboriginal Language groups, and more than 100 dialects of those languages.

"This is the first major redevelopment of how Aboriginal languages are taught in our schools in 20 years,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The new syllabus gives students valuable opportunities to learn the language of their local area and develop an understanding of Aboriginal languages and cultures.

“For the first time students who speak an Aboriginal Language or Torres Strait Islander Language at home will be able to progress the study of that language at school.”

Importantly, the new Aboriginal Languages Kindergarten to Year 10 syllabus includes guidance for schools on involving Aboriginal communities and knowledge holders when introducing and teaching the syllabus.

“This provides Aboriginal communities greater flexibility around how their languages are taught.”

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin said Aboriginal students have a right to learn their own language in school.

“Creating more opportunities for Aboriginal students to communicate in an Aboriginal language not only strengthens their connections to country, culture and their identity but it promotes the importance of language revitalisation and the continuation of learning,” Mr Franklin said.

“Empowering young Aboriginal people to maintain a strong sense of identity, belonging and culture and learn more about Aboriginal languages is also hugely beneficial to their overall educational and social outcomes.”

The syllabus was developed following extensive consultation with Aboriginal communities and education stakeholders.

NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) Inc President Catherine Trindall said the they are pleased to support the launch of the co-designed K-10 Aboriginal Languages syllabus.

“This syllabus has been developed from the support of our Aboriginal Community members. This allows schools to formally implement, engage and deliver Aboriginal Languages across NSW and it supports the NSW Aboriginal Languages Act,” Ms Trindall said.

“As President, I encourage everyone to take this opportunity to learn the first languages of Australia and to engage with and form positive working relationships with our local and regional AECGs.”

The syllabus includes guidance on how to involve Aboriginal communities when introducing and teaching the syllabus in schools, which research shows is vital to the sustainability of Aboriginal Languages programs.

Key features of the new syllabus include:

  • Content is now available in two language pathways: the Language Revival pathway for students with no prior learning, and the First Language pathway for students who use the language at home. It is the first time in the NSW Curriculum, that students whose first language is an Aboriginal Language or Torres Strait Islander Language, will have the opportunity to continue their language learning at school.
  • Students develop communication skills in an Aboriginal Language and understand the relationships between language, Country and culture.
  • Students learn about how languages are built, and techniques used by Aboriginal Language communities to do this.
  • Students learn about how Aboriginal languages are being revived, maintained, and strengthened.
  • New evidence-based support materials and resources are available on the Digital Curriculum to assist schools and teachers to implement the syllabus.

The new Aboriginal Languages syllabus will be available for teachers to plan during 2023. The syllabus will be available to be taught in NSW schools from 2024.

All teachers have one year to familiarise themselves and prepare before each new syllabus is mandatory under the NSW Curriculum Reform, and a detailed implementation timeline has been published.

NSW remains on track to deliver a new curriculum for Kindergarten to Year 10 from 2024, with all Year 11 and 12 syllabuses delivered by 2025.

For more details about the NSW Curriculum reform, visit the website.

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