What’s new

August 2016 update

Another 75 items have been added to the Virtual Library, bringing the total number of items to over 500, representing over 150 languages ... read more

How to use this Virtual Library

To find a resource, use search, or choose a state, language or category on the left (see Help for more information).

Or: find items by year of first listing in this Virtual Library:

Update 2024

This site is no longer current and is not being updated. Since 2016, happily, the number of online sources of knowledge about Australian Indigenous languages exploded in number and diversity of sources, especially from Indigenous organisations and individuals. As a result, it became impossible to keep ALoA up to date. It is no longer a key resource.

As the main web portal for Australian Aboriginal languages on the web (part of Tim Berners-Lee’s official W3C Virtual Library (now defunct at https://www.vlib.org/ - see its history) this site provided summaries, guidance and links to quality resources on Aboriginal languages, especially those produced from communities and by community members. It was listed in most of the major international libraries and other institutions as a key site for Australian languages, and attracted over 500,000 hits a year.

Approximately half of the linked sites still exist and the site’s back-end database remains valuable because it contains data which tracks 20 years of the emergence, expansion and changes in the online presence of Australian First Nations languages from the birth of the web.


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Gunwinygu [gup] see all Gunwinygu
Source: Murray Garde/Land Rights News
An account from Murray Garde about language misunderstandings between government representatives and Kunwinjku-speaking Bininj people about township leasing at Gunbalanya leading to serious misrepresentation of the wishes of the community and traditional owners.
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Luritja/Pintupi [piu] see all Luritja/Pintupi
Source: United Nations High Commission for Human Rights/ANU/L. Macdonald/S.J Dixon/S. Holcombe/K. Hansen
A translation of the Declaration of Human Rights into Pintupi/Luritja, the first in an Australian language. See news articles from ANU and the ABC. The translation is also available at from ANU. (See also the English version.)
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Murrinh-Patha [mwf] see all Murrinh-Patha
Source: Lysbeth Ford and Dominic McCormack
The Glossary shows non-Murrinhpatha speakers (including judges, lawyers, police etc) how English legal terms are rendered in Murrinhpatha. It is also a tool for Murrinhpatha legal interpreters and the people of the Thamarrurr region. Written in in collaboration with Wadeye elders Frank Dumoo and Claude Narjic, it is based on earlier work by Michael Walsh and Chester Street. See also this associated paper.
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Yolngu [aus-x-yoq] see all Yolngu
Source: ARDS/Aboriginal Interpreter Service/North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency
A downloadable PDF containing detalled descriptions and translations of legal terms in plain English and in Yol?u Matha.
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Many languages or language not specified
Source: Lester-Irabinna Rigney
In this paper from 2002, Lester-Irabinna Rigney advocated for the formal recognition of Indigenous languages through constitional amendment and the establishment of a National Indigenous Languages Institute. The paper also discusses issues of reconciliation and language stabilisation and revitalisation.
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Source: Australian Human Rights Commission / Mick Gooda and Katie Kiss
The paper argues that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be implemented so that legislation, policy, programs and service delivery empower rather than disempower communities, through observing principles of self-determination; participation in decision-making, free, prior and informed consent, and good faith; respect for and protection of culture; and equality and non-discrimination. The document repeatedly emphasises that support for Indigenous languages is an element in the promotion and protection of rights and identity.
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Source: Australian Human Rights Commission / Social Justice Commissioner
The report surveys progress in the last 20 years and how lessons learnt can forward Indigenous human rights and improvements in outcomes. The report notes that real meaning can be given to the rhetoric of human rights through a framework based on the principles of self-determination, participation in decision-making, underpinned by free, prior and informed consent and good faith; respect for and protection of culture; and equality and non-discrimination. Languages and bilingual education are important elements. See also Social Justice Report 2012.
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