More about Indigenous Languages Support (ILS)
History of ILS
Australian Government support for Indigenous languages can be traced to initiatives first funded in 1973 through the Education portfolio. Funding for Indigenous languages in schools continues to be a component of the School Languages Other Than English (LOTE) program. Following a number of reviews, continuing support for Indigenous languages was provided in the 1991 Education portfolio revision of the national language policy. One of the outcomes of the revision was the establishment of a separate Indigenous languages program, administered by the then Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). The program had two parts: the Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Endangered Languages (those with fewer than 20 fluent speakers) and was called the Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Records (MILR) program. The MILR program was renamed Indigenous Languages Support (ILS) in 2011.
The link between language loss and the erosion of Indigenous culture has been recognised in many government reports, including the 2011 Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Key Indicators Report and the 2009 Social Justice Report. These reports also link strong language, culture and identity with resilience against disadvantage; and there is a growing body of research connecting language maintenance with positive outcomes across a variety of domains. Outcomes of the ILS Program therefore contribute to the Australian Government's Closing the Gap agenda.
In 2009, the Australian Government announced its National Indigenous Languages Policy. The Policy confirmed the Australian Government's commitment to keeping Indigenous languages alive and helping Indigenous Australians connect with their language and culture. The National Indigenous Languages Policy is underpinned by ILS.
ILS is currently administered by the Ministry for the Arts, Attorney-General's Department. A competitive funding round is held each year with over $9 million invested into projects that support the revival and maintenance of Indigenous languages in Australia.