Indigenous Languages

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following may contain images and voices of deceased persons.

There are more than 200 Australian Indigenous languages. Less than 20 languages are strong, and even these are endangered : the others have been destroyed, live in the memories of the elderly, or are being revived by their communities. 1

In recent years, there has been an increase in the teaching of Indigenous languages in government, Catholic & independent schools. In 2005, when 133 languages were taught in schools, 45 were Indigenous languages. A listing of most of these can be found from the research study into The State and Nature of Languages in Australian Schools. 2

By 2008 it had risen to more than 80 languages and about 29 000 students. 3  It is hoped this increases so further language loss is avoided.

This page gives access to information about Indigenous languages, resources, curriculum offerings, community sites, government sites and studies, more.

Updated ! An Indigenous Language Map is found at the Australian ABC.


Aboriginal English

Specific Languages

  • Anggargoon
    Bardi on the Web.
  • Barani
    ‘There are a number of online and published resources providing background to the history and etymology of Aboriginal words and place names spoken in Sydney and NSW’.
  • New ! Barngarla Dictionary
    Android, Free. ‘Explore and learn the language and culture of the Barngarla people anywhere in the world, for free ! Search in Barngarla and English or use our traditional search of Images’.
  • Garrwa
    ‘Australian Aboriginal language which was spoken in the Gulf of Carpentaria region close to the Northern Territory/Queensland border’. Language information, links. Fairly technical presentation.
  • Gurindji Multimedia Dictionary
    Standalone Version, Intro, Lexicon, English-Gurindji, more.
  • Jiwarli
    Overview, Dictionary, Resources.
  • Kamilaroi - Gamilaraay Dictionary
    Dictionary, thesaurus.
  • Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages
    ‘A digital archive of endangered texts in Aboriginal languages of the Northern Territory. This is a living archive, with connections to the people and communities where the books were created’. Their page Updated ! For teachers is useful, while their Map page shows language areas and language centres.
  • Ngalia
    Background to the work being done in this area. For practical activities, try the Ngalia Picture Dictionary, developed in 2013.
  • Noongar Dictionary by Rose Whitehurst
  • Pilbara Language Resources
    ‘To view information about each of the Pilbara’s languages, click on the language of your choice in the “Languages of the Pilbara” section. Here you will find an introduction to each language and, for some languages, E-Book Dictionaries and past news stories about Wangka Maya’s work’.
  • Warlpiri - Lexicon
    Download for tablet, standalone version, About Warlpiri, English-Warlpiri, more.
  • Western Australian Aboriginal Languages
    Handbook of Languages from south of the Kimberleys. Archived version.
  • New ! Wiradjuri Dictionary
    Apple, Android Free. ‘Explore and learn the language and culture of the Wiradjuri people anywhere in the world, for free ! Browse the dictionary by letter, categories and common phrases. Search in Wiradjuri and English or use our traditional search of images’.
  • Yuwaalaraay gaay Gamilaraay garay
    ‘Yaama ! Welcome to the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay home page, the central site for information about the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay languages of northern New South Wales. Find language learning lessons, information on pronunciation, and in the Guwaabal section there are twelve stories in Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay with transcriptions, English translations and background notes’. You can go to Gayarragi, Winangali ‘an interactive multimedia resource for Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay. Free for use by individuals and Gamilaraay Yuwaalaraay organisations’.

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Government Sites

Includes schools and other educational sources. For further information at the school level, check the Indigenous Education page.


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Other Information

Organisations & Associations


  • Aboriginal Studies Electronic Data Archive
    ‘Computer-based [digital] materials about Australian Indigenous languages’.
  • Updated ! Austlang
    Read the information here, then Updated ! go to the Main Page to access the language database.
  • Updated ! Collectors of Words
    ‘These word lists are highly sought after by AIATSIS clients and are presented in this online exhibition for information and ease of access to enable further research. Further information about those who compiled the word lists is given in each section of the exhibition’.
  • Updated ! Databases and Indexes
    Scroll down to the language area. Other databases may also be of use.
  • Updated ! Indigenous Australian Languages
    Video and transcript, links to language resources, further reading and resources.
  • Updated ! Languages
    AIATSIS. Provides links to Manuscripts and Books, Pictorial works and Sound.
  • Languages and their status in Aboriginal Australia
    The first chapter from a book on Aboriginal languages and culture.
  • Updated ! MURA® Collection
    ‘Connects individuals and organisations interested in Australian Indigenous languages’.
    Read the information here, then go to the Main Page to access the database.
  • Updated ! Pathways Thesauri
    ‘The Pathways thesaurus is made up of three separate thesaurus headings : Australian place names, Indigenous language groups and people and subjects relating to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies’.
  • Second National Indigenous Languages Survey Report 2014
    ‘Offers key insights for governments and communities into the current situation of Australian languages, how they are being supported and how best to continue this support’.
  • Updated ! Australian Indigenous Language Collections
    National Library of Australia. ‘The language groups listed in this research guide are first sorted by State and Territory [although there will be some overlap], and then arranged alphabetically’.
  • Australian Society for Indigenous Languages
    Dictionaries for a number of languages, available for download or use as apps, keyboards, translation software, fonts, advocacy, submissions, more.


  • First Languages Australia
    ‘Working with partners to increasing awareness of Australia’s first languages’.
  • Updated ! Indigenous Languages Collection
    State Library of NSW. ‘These records are vocabularies and other language material from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and date from 1788 to the 1930’s. More than 40 different language groups from all Australian states and territories have been identified in over 200 original items’.
  • Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative
    Language courses and resources.
  • Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages
    ‘Focused on retrieving, recording, researching Aboriginal languages and providing a central resource on Victorian Aboriginal Languages with programs now looking at educational tools to teach the Indigenous community about language’. Their Links Page is worth visiting.
  • Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre
    ‘We will use our expertise, knowledge and sensitivity to record and foster Aboriginal languages, culture and history’. Programs, language, resources, translating, more. Resources has several downloads.

Other Sites


There are numerous programs or parts of programs dealing with Indigenous languages on both radio and television. Several are listed below.

  • Updated ! Holding Our Tongues
    ABC Radio National. ‘Holding our Tongues is a Hindsight project about the long and painful task of reviving Aboriginal languages. Click on place names on the map to listen to examples of language, watch archival video or find more information’.
  • New ! Indigenous Language [BTN]
    ‘In the Northern Territory, there’s a fight over which languages are used to teach kids in school. Aboriginal communities are worried that new government rules could destroy their culture. But the government reckons it will be better for kids in the long run. Kirsty has the story’.
  • New ! Indigenous Language Lessons [BTN]
    ‘The town of Broome in Western Australia is pushing to become the first bilingual town in Australia by teaching all kids Yawuru, the local indigenous language. Even the town's street signs are now in both Yawuru and English. We checked in with one school there to find out more’.
  • New ! Local Languages [BTN]
    ‘As Tash reports, Australia has hundreds of Indigenous languages and some people are worried that if we don’t keep teaching them they could eventually disappear’.
  • New ! Word Up
    Radio n National. ‘Word Up shares the diverse languages of black Australia from Anmatyerre to Arrernte, from Bidjara to Bundjalung, from Nyungar to Ngaanyatjarra, from Yankunytjatjara to Yorta Yorta—one word at a time’.

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1. ed. Nathan, D, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages, Retrieved January, 2010, from Aboriginal Languages of Australia :

2. Pandora Archive. An Investigation of the State and Nature of Languages in Australian Schools, 2008, p. 30. Retrieved 19 December, 2012, from Pandora Archive.

3. ACER, Updated ! Indigenous Languages Programs in Australian Schools - A Way Forward. Retrieved 19 December, 2012, from Updated ! ACEReSearch.

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