Language, power and representative democracy: To what extent does English language dominance undermine good governance and democracy in the Northern Territory?


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Presenter:  Ben Grimes, Lecturer in Law, Charles Darwin University, Australia

Date: Oct 02, 2018

Time: 10:30am to 11:30am

Contact person:  Northern Institute
T: 08 8946 6854
E: thenortherninstitute@cdu.edu.au

Location:  Northern Institute, Yellow Building 1, Level 2, Room 48 (Savanna Room)

Target audience:  Open to the public - All Welcome - Please share

THIS SEMINAR IS NOW AT CAPACITY. YOU CAN STILL VIEW THE EVENT LIVE ONLINE VIA WEBEX (JOIN THE MEETING) AND THE PRESENTATION WILL BE RECORDED AND UPLOADED TO OUR VIMEO CHANNEL (HTTPS://VIMEO.COM/NORTHERNINSTITUTE).

Abstract: The NT is one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world, with nearly 70% of Aboriginal Territorians speaking an Aboriginal language as their primary language. Not only does language serve as an essential tool for clear communication, language use and recognition is a powerful vehicle for social inclusion or exclusion.
This seminar will articulate some of  the ways in which the unconscious and deliberate dominance of English undermines good governance and democracy in the NT. The seminar will use the NT Legislative Assembly’s current standing order restricting the use of non-English languages in Parliament as a case study to illustrate the politics of language in the NT, and the implications of English language dominance in government on speakers of minority languages.
The seminar will briefly canvas approaches to language issues in other contexts, such as the legal system, education and health, together with various approaches taken in other countries to more appropriately reflect the multi-lingual fabric of society. Ultimately, this seminar hopes to solicit concrete ideas about how the NT can better reflect its rich multi-lingual character, and to find persuasive ways of articulating the benefits of pro-actively including non-English languages – particularly in places of power.

About Ben Grimes: Ben Grimes is a lawyer and linguist who specialises in communication issues in the criminal justice system and cross-cultural legal education. Ben worked as criminal lawyer with the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency in the NT, including two years based in Nhulunbuy, East Arnhem Land. As a Community Legal Educator, Ben developed significant experience working with Law and Justice groups in remote communities and developed a legal development methodology combining principles of Aboriginal learning styles, bilingual education, cross-cultural communication and participatory development. As the Program Manager for the NT Government Aboriginal Interpreter Service, Ben managed 50 full-time staff and 350 casual interpreters across the NT, and developed the Bush Court interpreting system used in the NT and legal training for Aboriginal interpreters.
Ben has been a major contributor to numerous protocols and policy documents such as the NT Law Society Indigenous Protocols (2nd ed), the NT Supreme Court Interpreter Protocols, the NT Local Court Interpreter Protocols and the Police General Orders on Interpreters and Translators. Ben is a signatory to the 'Communication of Rights' international working group that promotes best practice in communication of legal rights with people who speak English as a second language, and Ben managed the NT Government project to interpret and record suspects' rights into 18 Aboriginal languages for use by NT Police. Ben is also the Managing Editor of the Plain English Legal Dictionary (NT Criminal Law). Ben also has an MA in Applied Linguists, and as part of his MA conducted experimental research to identify differences in how Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal witnesses tell the story of the same event, and the legal implications of these linguistic differences. Ben speaks a number of languages and is also heavily involved in bilingual education and language advocacy in West Timor, Indonesia.

RSVP by Monday, 01 October 2018 via Outlook or thenortherninstitute@cdu.edu.au

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