Indigenous languages are good for your health


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Presenter:  Dr Michael Walsh, Senior Research Fellow, AIATSIS Centre for Australian LanguagesIndigenous Social and Cultural Wellbeing (ISCW); Honorary Associate, University of Sydney; Honorary Associate, University of Sydney; Research Affiliate, CoEDL

Date: Jul 11, 2017

Time: 10:30am to 11:30am

Contact person:  Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University
T: 08 8946 7468
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

Abstract
Particularly over the last 25 years a good deal of attention has been paid to the retention and revitalization of Indigenous languages. For me the best read of 2009 was chapter 3 of the Social Justice Report: The perilous state of Indigenous languages in Australia (Calma 2009). Amongst other things the question, why preserve Indigenous languages?, is addressed. One part of the answer is improved health: "While Australia lacks research on culture and resilience, we do have longitudinal research data which demonstrates a correlation between strong language and culture in Indigenous homeland communities and positive health outcomes. A ten year study of Indigenous Australians in Central Australia found that 'connectedness to culture, family and land, and opportunities for self-determination' assist in significantly lower morbidity and mortality rates in Homeland residents". I had been aware for some time that the retention and revitalization of Indigenous languages could be beneficial to mental and societal health but was somewhat taken aback by the effects on physical health including reduced risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (see also Whalen et al. 2016). Language is postulated as core to a people's wellbeing and mental health. Hallett, Chandler and Lalonde (2007) report a clear correlation between youth suicide and lack of conversational knowledge in the native language in British Columbia, Canada. In this paper it will also be demonstrated that learning an Indigenous language can lead to a substantial downturn in racism. For this and other reasons, Indigenous languages are good for your health.

About Dr Michael Walsh
Since 1972 Dr Michael Walsh has conducted fieldwork in the Top End of the Northern Territory, mainly in the Darwin-Daly region. This has been a mixture of academic endeavours as well as consultancies since 1979 mainly relating to Aboriginal land issues. From 1999 he has participated in the revitalization of Aboriginal languages in NSW. From 1982 until 2005 he was part of the teaching staff of the Department of Linguistics, University of Sydney.
Publications: 10 books/monographs/compilations authored, co-authored, edited or co-edited. more than 70 articles or book chapters, 45 reports to governments or for consultancies, including co-author of the NSW Aboriginal Languages K-10 Syllabus (2003) and co-author of the national Framework for [the teaching of] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages (2015). Read Dr. Michael Walsh’s profile HERE.  

RSVP by Monday 10 July 2017 via Outlook or thenortherninstitute@cdu.edu.au

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