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Rio Tinto and the State Library of NSW Foundation have formed a three-year partnership to support a vital three-year landmark project - Rediscovering Indigenous Languages – to document Indigenous wordlists or vocabularies held in the State Library’s archive.
Within the Library’s archival records are letters, manuscripts, diaries and journals which document Indigenous languages of NSW,Queensland,Victoria andTasmania (from 1788–1930s). These are often the only surviving records of these languages. This project aims to identify as many of these wordlists as possible and make them available to the public, and in particular, relevant Indigenous communities.  This project will add significantly to the current interest in community driven language reclamation work. For the vast majority of languages inEastern Australia, which have no substantial dictionaries or grammars, these wordlists will provide an opportunity for communities to access their own languages.

The project aims to: 

  • Make available, in a culturally appropriate framework, surviving language lists to indigenous communities 
  • Develop protocols for the publication of language lists, to ensure that they meet community needs, and allow communities to contribute their knowledge to library records about their languages
  • Locate previously hidden languages lists in the Library’s collections
  • Increase public awareness of Indigenous language and cultural history
  • Be an effective educational resource contributing to school curriculum and further research