Aboriginal languages

Aboriginal languages are a fundamental element of the Aboriginal culture, which reaffirm Aboriginal identity, spirituality and connection to Country. More information on Aboriginal languages, and be found at the Our Languages website  or by contacting the NSW Aboriginal Language Research and Resource Centre.

The NSW Government is also committed to recognising Aboriginal cultural heritage by registering original place names given by Aboriginal people, so they sit side by side with existing European names. Since June 2001 the Government has supported a dual naming policy for geographical features and cultural sites, which represents a meaningful contribution to the process of reconciliation in NSW.

Local government can help maintain ties to Aboriginal heritage and promote Aboriginal language by:

  • Identifying significant sites of Aboriginal heritage and acknowledging these sites as Aboriginal heritage conservation zones in the area’s future planning and development
  • Planning for ample open spaces and parklands
  • Considering adoption of Aboriginal dual names for geographic features within the area that already have names
  • Considering Aboriginal place-naming and street-naming to pay homage to the Aboriginal heritage of certain regions.

Councils can also build and maintain productive partnerships with local Aboriginal communities by ensuring there is respectful and careful negotiation with these communities prior to the use of Aboriginal names for newly proclaimed public places, roads or new land developments. Assistance to Councils in this area can be obtained from a wide range of sources, outlined below.

The Geographical Names Board of NSW manages the dual naming policy, and preferences traditional Aboriginal place names or names with Aboriginal origin wherever possible.

Aboriginal Language and Culture Nests have been established within some NSW schools to enable Aboriginal people and communities to reclaim, revitalise and maintain their traditional Aboriginal languages.

The NSW State Library Indigenous Services works with Indigenous communities across NSW concerning the preservation and management of Indigenous documentary heritage resources. The team promotes Library services and collections to Indigenous communities, and provides advice on Indigenous matters.

NSW Museums and Galleries supports small to medium galleries, museums and Aboriginal cultural centres in NSW to maximise their impact and help create strong and thriving local communities.