I am a proud Torres Strait Islander navigating the systems and processes of mainland Australia. This has proved difficult and challenging not only for myself but for other Indigenous Australians known as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Language in our Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples can be delivered in a few ways and is part of our rich and unique culture. For example: Spoken and/or hand signs can work to aide in the communication strategies to engage and interact with Indigenous societies. I recall personally my father’s communication with various other Indigenous groups to identify the comings and goings, language group(s) and to ascertain if assistance was required.
I was born into a society of many spoken languages which my own was not considered or included into mainstream society. At home English was the second language which proved a personal challenge in breaking down barriers in my current employment pursuits and education of my peers.
The power of language and its preservation in societies is vitally important. Language is the very essence that keeps culture and its existence alive in identifying people, a nation, a lineage and individual identities.
Australia collectively needs to understand that past assimilation laws that impacted on the First Nations people had a diabolical impact on our people(s) and communities. More importantly assimilation needs to work both ways in order for us to collectively move forward as a nation.
In a society, a nation and global front we need to stand together in the commitment in protecting “language” which is pivotal of culture itself. In respect to our humanitarian beliefs we need embrace language to heal a peoples to guide assistance and deliver appropriate services and programs.
No matter how you “say it” or “emphasize it” this is the power of language.
Harry Pitt is the founder of the Torres Strait Islander Consultancy (TSIC), which provides effective solutions designed to boost businesses be it a small or large organisation. TSIC has cultural understanding of the social determinants impacting on Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and community. Harry helps his clients with their most complex strategic challenges and builds tailored solutions to help them achieve their deliverables or business growth.
More articles and resources on My Health Career:
- Closing the Gap – my perspective, past, present and future – by Harry Pitt
- Deadly Choices – improving the health of indigenous youth
- Become an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Worker