Dimension: Valuing diversity, belonging and culture
Number of First Nations people who speak a First Nations language at home
Why does this matter
Speaking a First Nations language improves First Nations people’s wellbeing, by making their connection to family, community and country stronger.
The National Agreement on Closing the Gap recognises the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and languages which are strong, supported and flourishing. Under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, by 2031, there should be a sustained increase in number and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages being spoken.
Has there been progress
Nationally, in 2021, 76,978 First Nations people were reported as using a First Nations language at home — this is an increase of 20.7 per cent (from 63,754 people) since 2016.1 2 In 2021, almost one-third of language users were aged 25-44 years (22,972) and over one-quarter were aged 0-14 years (21,952).
In 2018-19, the National Indigenous Languages Survey found that there were 123 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in use or being revitalised.3 However, only 14 of these languages were spoken fluently, in everyday life and across generations.
1Australian Bureau of Statistics (2021), Language Statistics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, ABS Website, accessed 13 July 2023.
2 ‘Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language’ is used in the ABS Census when referring to traditional languages, new contact languages, Aboriginal English and supplementary codes that are classified as ’Australian Indigenous Languages’ in the ASCL (codes 8000-8999).