Languages

Indigenous Australia is a place of enormous linguistic and cultural diversity, with more than 700 language varieties spoken across the continent, many of them completely different from one another.

There is a strong cultural association between language and land, which means that language relationships are very local and it is important that schools and teachers engage with local Indigenous communities to discuss including language as a cultural expression in school activities wherever possible.

However, Australia is also one of the world’s hotspots for language loss, which has meant that many of these languages are no longer spoken and some are remembered only by a few words. Consequently, the amount of information that is available for Indigenous languages varies enormously across the country, with some languages well-resourced with stories, dictionaries and multimedia resources, and many others for which the available information is significantly more limited.

This website includes examples of language, stories and songs from a selection of Indigenous languages for which material is publicly available, but it is important that teachers and students realise that such languages, stories and songs will not be the same across all of Australia. While there are some similarities and shared perspectives across Indigenous Australia, there is a lot of diversity and difference as well and this needs to be acknowledged.

An excellent resource which provides information about Indigenous languages across Australia is the Gambay map produced by First Languages Australia.

Useful information about how to pronounce the different sounds of Australian Aboriginal languages is provided by a series of videos produced by the Research Unit for Indigenous Language at the University of Melbourne, these are available at The sounds of Australian Aboriginal languages website.

Teachers and students are encouraged to use these resources to help with the pronunciation of Aboriginal language names and other words used in the curriculum materials on this site.

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The development of these resources was funded through an Australian Government initiative delivered by the University of Melbourne's Indigenous Studies Unit. The resources include the views, opinions and representations of third parties, and do not represent the views of the Australian Government. They have been developed as a proof of concept to progress the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in Australian classrooms. In drawing on the material, users should consider the relevance and suitability to their particular circumstances and purposes.