The Federal Minister for Arts Simon Crean today announced the Creative Australia Policy, said to be the first update to Australian cultural policy in twenty years. The policy focuses on the visual and performing arts and includes a budget of almost $14 million over four years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait language programs. In an interview with ABC radio Minister Crean was asked if language programs do not better belong as part of education policy. He replied that investment in language programs respects and expresses culture, pointing out that cultural policy covers many areas, including closing the gap, social inclusion and education.
In addition to the new language funding there has been additional funding for the continuation of AIATSIS’s archive digitisation project and mention of updating the National Indigenous Languages Policy in response to the Our Land Our Languages report as well as other funding increases and policy updates.
While $14 million may seem like a substantial amount to invest in languages, other areas recieved higher amounts, possibly an indication that language investment is not perceived as being as economically productive as other areas.
Greg Dickson at Crikey blog Fully Sic has written this piece in response to the policy, arguing that while the funding is much needed and welcomed by current language programs it is not significant enough to have serious impact on the critical state of Indigenous languages in Australia.
You can download a full copy of the Creative Australia Policy here.