Aboriginal languages and culture are a living national treasure that represent forty thousand years of unique and endangered human knowledge. They are at least as important as any world heritage site, and deserve the same level of respect and protection. The world heritage convention requires that we protect important cultural sites, but we violate the spirit of that convention if we preserve only cultural sites while we kill off cultures.

I am not suggesting that Aboriginal culture should be preserved like a museum specimen. A living culture must continue to evolve and change to ensure its survival. However, they should be allowed to evolve and change on their own terms and in their own directions. They should not be held back, nor forced to "join the mainstream" and loose their unique identity. Instead they should be given the freedom and authority to control their own destiny.

Australia is a multi-cultural society and proud of it. According to the 2006 census, more than three million Australians (more than 15%) speak a language other than English at home. Of those, less than fiftysix thousand (less than 0.3%) speak an Australian indigenous language, and those languages are not spoken anywhere else in the world. Multiculturalism is not about integrating everyone into a single homogenious mono-culture, but is about allowing different cultures to coexist while maintaining their unique identity.

The World Heritage Convention

Greek Australians

  1. Census Table: Language Spoken at Home by Sex - Time Series Statistics (1996, 2001, 2006 Census Years)




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