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NAIDOC Week focuses on saving languages

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‘Our Languages Matter’ is the theme for NAIDOC Week which is being celebrated this week.

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Over time policies, attitudes and beliefs have spelled the demise of Aboriginal languages and throughout the week people will be reminded of the need to bring them back.

As John Lochowiak, Manager of Aboriginal Services at Centacare Catholic Family Services explained, traditionally there were between 350 and 480 different languages spoken in Australia.

“Unfortunately due to government policies on reserves and missions a lot of people weren’t able to speak their languages and we’ve lost a lot of our languages,” he said.

Languages play a unique role in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites through story and song.

Mr Lochowiak said that through NAIDOC Week celebrations the importance of languages would be highlighted and it was an opportunity for “research” towards getting some of them back so, “we can teach our children and they can teach their children”.

To herald the start of NAIDOC Week, a special Mass for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday was held in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral yesterday. Celebrated by Archbishop Wilson, the Mass served to honour the rich traditions and spirituality of Australian Indigenous culture and featured a smoking ceremony and music from the didgeridoo.

This week Centacare is taking part in a range of community events in the city and Murray Bridge region to celebrate NAIDOC Week, and there are also many other activities which have been organised by the SA NAIDOC Committee.

For more details go to: www.naidocsa.com or www.facebook.com/centacarecatholicfamilyservices/

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