2384

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Submission Number
2384
Participant
The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation
Submission date
Main Submission Automated Transcript

02 9362 3388
PO Box 7
208 New South Head Road
Edgecliff NSW 2027
ABN 27 098 802 094
www.alnf.org

SUBMISSION TO THE INDIGENOUS VOICE CO-DESIGN PROCESS
APRIL 2021

The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) welcomes the opportunity to make this
submission and express its support of the Indigenous Voice Proposal.

The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF), established in 1999, is a national charity
dedicated to raising language, literacy and numeracy standards in Australia. ALNF believes that literacy
is freedom - literacy allows individuals to access education, participate meaningfully in our society and
to have a voice. It is a basic human right.

“I am alive again. Listen!
Language is my life.
You have given me back my life.
I am alive again.”
- Warumungu Elder, Tennant Creek NT.

The opening lines of the Indigenous Voice Discussion Paper: Indigenous Voice Proposal (page 7) state:

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are rich in knowledge, passing stories from
generation to generation. They hold a unique place in our nation’s story. The next step in
this story is to make sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have more of a say
on the laws, policies and services that impact their lives.”

These lines are unequivocally accurate but, a central point is missing from this statement.

That point is this: Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages are not strong enough to carry
forward the cultural richness, knowledge and stories which have been passed along the generations.
To truly honour the sentiment in the opening lines above, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Languages require urgent focus to regain and sustain their place as proficient conveyors of
meaningfully communication to ‘hold a unique place in our nation’s story.’

ALNF strongly supports prioritisation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members to
regain and sustain their First Languages to pass stories, culture and knowledge to the next generation
and to reclaim their unique place in the nation’s story.

Central to the ethical and robust revitalisation of First Languages are a number of clearly stated
proposal elements in this Discussion Paper which will ensure that First Language work is and remains
authentic. ALNF supports the regional and local level governance structure set out in the Indigenous
Voice Proposal to ensure locally designed and led input, local advice to all levels of government and
working partnerships to hear and action the local communities and organisation aspirations. It is

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ALNF’s opinion that this proposed structure has the potential to prioritise and strengthen First
Language revitalisation.

From ALNF’s experience, the nine principles set out to guide Local and Regional Voices will assist all
participants to communicate clearly about First Language initiatives according to these clearly stated
principles:

1. Empowerment – providing First Language decision making to be generated at a local/regional
level;

2. Inclusive participation – providing input into First Language initiatives from across a broad
spectrum of contributors;

3. Cultural Leadership – providing First Language initiatives with essential leadership and input;

4. Community-led Design – providing First Language initiatives with relevant applications to local
priorities and contexts to meet local needs and aspirations;

5. Non-duplication and Links with Existing Bodies – providing First Language initiatives to
network and strengthen;

6. Respectful Long-term Partnerships – providing First Language initiatives with longevity and
integration into broader contexts;

7. Transparency and Accountability – ensuring First Language initiatives are always part of a
solid protocol structure which will safeguard against any future disruption to First Language
excellence;

8. Capability Driven – quality First Language initiatives will provide abundant opportunities for
leadership from the local/regional levels through to the national and international levels;

9. Data and Evidence-based Decision Making – providing First Language initiatives with the
evidence to take a centre stage position amongst the voices to be heard today and into the
future.

Through our collaborations with communities implementing ALNF’s Living First Language Platform
and programs we have witnessed how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages can flow from
the ‘old days’ into the digital age.

The National Voice Proposal will ensure that the necessary governance and protective factors surround
First Language initiatives to strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and, enrich
all Australians.

Mary-Ruth Mendel
Speech and Language Pathologist
Co-Founder, Co-Chair and Executive Director
The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation

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