News » Why languages matter: Celebrating NAIDOC Week

NAIDOC Logo. Our Languages Matter 2-9 July 2017

Why languages matter: Celebrating NAIDOC Week

One of the things that I most enjoy about working at Your Community Health (previously called Darebin Community Health) is it’s openness to learning from, and celebrating different cultures. NAIDOC Week is a great example of this.

You don’t have to spend long in one of our health centres or at one of our events, like Harmony Day, to see the value of embracing diversity. It strengthens our community for everyone’s benefit.

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year we are reflecting on how language shapes cultural identities, and links people to their land and water.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are challenged by the loss of their traditional languages. Some 250 distinct Indigenous language groups covered the continent in the late eighteenth century. Most of these languages would have had several dialects, so that the total number of named varieties would have run to many hundreds. Today only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost as Elders pass on.

There is some great work being done to document the original languages of this nation. It is an important part of our collective history and has deep cultural and spiritual significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Language is something we can often take for granted, when surrounded by others who speak your first language. But we should consider how much it shapes our own cultural identity. Also, day to day tasks like accessing health care can be more difficult when divided by cultural and language barriers. That’s why we provide free interpreter and translation services to anyone who wants them.

Whilst NAIDOC Week is a great celebration, I think it is important to celebrate and learn about Aboriginal history, culture and achievements all year round. That’s why I am delighted to invite you to our special celebration event later this month.

I hope to see you there!


For more information about NAIDOC Week visit