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4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/10/2009   
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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples keep their cultural heritage alive by passing their knowledge, arts and rituals from one generation to another, speaking and teaching languages and protecting sacred and significant sites, materials and objects. Aspects of Indigenous language and culture highlighted in this publication are:



MAIN LANGUAGE SPOKEN AT HOME

In 2008, about one in nine (11%) Indigenous people aged 15 years and over spoke an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language as their main language at home. Compared to 2002, the proportion of people who spoke an Indigenous language as their main language at home has not changed significantly (12%). In 2008, almost four in nine (42%) people living in remote areas spoke an Indigenous language as their main language at home.

Of Indigenous children aged 4-14 years, 8% spoke an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language as their main language at home. One-third (33%) of Indigenous children in remote areas spoke an Indigenous language as their main language at home.


INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE SPEAKERS

In 2008, two in five (40%) Indigenous people aged 15 years and over spoke, or spoke some words of, an Indigenous language. Almost three in five (56%) Torres Strait Islander people spoke, or spoke some words of, an Indigenous language compared to two in five (39%) Aboriginal people.

Of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over who lived in remote areas of Australia, 73% spoke, or spoke some words of, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language in comparison to 32% of those living in major cities and 28% of people in regional areas.

Over one-third (35%) of Indigenous children aged 4-14 years spoke, or spoke some words of, an Indigenous language in 2008. Indigenous children living in remote areas were much more likely than those in urban areas to speak, or speak some words of, an Indigenous language (63%).


ACCESS TO HOMELANDS

One-quarter (25%) of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over were living in their homelands or traditional country in 2008. Indigenous people living in remote areas were almost five times more likely to live on their homelands than those who lived in the major cities (44% and 9% respectively).

2.1 LIVING ON HOMELANDS OR TRADITIONAL COUNTRY(a), by remoteness area - 2008
Graph: Living on homelands or traditional country by remoteness area - 2008



CULTURAL IDENTIFICATION

In 2008, just over six in ten (62%) Indigenous people aged 15 years and over identified with a clan, tribal or language group, compared to 54% in 2002.

Almost half (49%) of Indigenous children aged 4-14 years identified with a clan, tribal or language group in 2008. Rates of identification were higher for children living in remote areas than in major cities (71% and 40%).


INVOLVEMENT IN CULTURAL EVENTS OR ACTIVITIES

The level of involvement in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultural events, ceremonies or organisations helps to provide an indication of a person's level of cultural attachment. People may have attended or participated in a range of cultural events or activities, such as:
  • festivals or carnivals involving arts, craft, music or dance; or
  • men's or women's business.

In 2008, over seven in ten (73%) Indigenous children aged 4-14 years and over six in ten (63%) Indigenous people aged 15 years and over were involved in cultural events, ceremonies or organisations in the 12 months prior to interview.


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