Friday, December 17, 2021

Saving the farm – recognising Indigenous languages is part of salvaging community

The end of the year – after a bumper 24 months of disasters – is a time of closure. Many things have changed and many more will change – hopefully mainly for the better. In particular people who have made major contributions to Australia's creativity and culture are moving on from their roles to take up new interests or interests they have been too busy to pursue. This is particularly the case in the arena of First Nations languages, where the recognition amongst Australians generally of the importance of languages and culture is part and parcel of salvaging community – for everyone.

As the end of the year approaches rapidly, after two solid years of bushfires followed by pandemic, many other things are also drawing to a close. A few weeks ago I found myself sitting in my car outside my local surgery, waiting for a routine medical appointment while trying to take part in a Zoom session on my tiny tablet. The reason for the Zoom event was to farewell Faith Baisden after decades as the face of First Languages Australia, the national body advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in Australia. 
A panel of community languages talent at 'Jarrak: Our languages journey', an event presented by First Languages Autralia in 2019 - Veronica Dobson, Dana Ober, Trevor Buzzacott and Eve Fesl, in conversation with Paul Paton.
Faith is leaving First Languages Australia to pursue her many other interests, particularly involving childhood education and music. Like all the other community languages folk I’ve met, she is a quiet over-achiever, building bridges and producing miracles wherever she turns. I’m sure she will keep doing it in a new area.