Funding boost for AIATSIS

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies’ (AIATSIS) Chairperson Professor Mick Dodson AM today welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of an additional $20 million in funding over two years.

Professor Dodson said the funding will allow AIATSIS to ramp up its work to collect, preserve, understand and share Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ heritage and culture.

“This includes the preservation of unique and fragile film and audio recordings, rare manuscripts and photographs,” Professor Dodson.

“These include records of language, history and culture that are kept nowhere else. It will support the curation and research needed to understand this material and share it with current and future generations.

“Connection to culture, language and heritage contribute to the identity and overall health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“AIATSIS is the custodian of history and heritage that is intrinsic to our national story and important for all Australians.

“We are very pleased that the Prime Minister has recognised our place in telling this story.”

The additional $10 million per annum will bring AIATSIS’ annual base funding to $20 million. It was announced during the tabling of the Closing the Gap – Prime Ministers Report 2016 in Parliament today.

Prime Minister Turnbull began his address to Parliament in the language of the people on which the House sits, Ngunawal. The problem being that the language had not been spoken for decades and work to revive it, drawing on historical records, only began recently.

The Prime Minister's office contacted AIATSIS linguist, Dr Doug Marmion, for help with the preparation of the speech. As a result Dr Marmion found himself Skyping with Malcolm Turnbull himself.

"Many people I’ve helped in this way have trouble with pronouncing some aspects of Australian languages, but the PM was a surprisingly skilful and fast learner!" Dr Marmion said.

The Prime Minister's request was quite particular though, so Dr Marmion sought the assistance of the Ngaiyuriidja Ngunawal Language Group to ensure the accuracy of the speech. The result was two members, Tyronne Bell and Glen Freeman, sitting in the Prime Minister's office coaching him on how to acknowledge and pay respects to Ngunawal elders.

Read the Prime Minister's speech.

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Last reviewed: 10 May 2017