NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #NRW2020 27 May to 3 June : This #ReconciliationWeek use a new interactive #Gambay website to learn the name of the Indigenous language of the land on which you live. Search by town or post code

 “Australia is situated in one of the world’s linguistic hot spots, however, many Australians are not aware of the incredible linguistic diversity of Indigenous Australia.

Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages have struggled to survive since the time of colonisation.

According to First Languages Australia “in the late 18th century, there were between 350 and 750 distinct Australian social groupings, and a similar number of languages”.

These languages determine whose country we are on and who we must acknowledge and pay respect to when we are on their land.

But the good news is many language groups are working hard to preserve their native tongue. And languages are persistently being restored.

First Languages Australia has developed an interactive map that displays and promotes the diversity of Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages. “

Search by town or post code HERE

A map of Australia appears in front of a background of faces

The interactive map showcases over 780 Indigenous languages.(First Languages Australia)


The map is called Gambay, which means “together” in the Butchulla language of the Hervey Bay region in Queensland.

It showcases more than 780 languages.

The map gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities control over the way their languages are publicly represented through spelling and videos clips of ‘language legends’ who share their knowledge.

Some videos have been provided by the ABC in collaboration with First Languages Australia.

Originally published HERE

First Languages Australia works closely with language centres and speakers around the country to develop the map to reflect the names and groups favoured by community.

First Languages Australia manages the map, community contributions and its ongoing development in consultation with language centres and speakers.

The ABC does not warrant and is not responsible for the accuracy, currency, completeness or reliability of the information contained in the map.

This map is also a permanent feature on the ABC Indigenous website.

How the map can teach you language:

  • Find your location on the map and the language group of that area will appear
  • After clicking on the language group you will find educational videos of ‘language legends’ talking about their culture
  • You will also find audio segments which teach you how to pronounce the language
  • There are also videos on the map where you can learn the original place names in your area through the ABC This Place series. This is another way of learning the local language and using it everyday.

How the map came to be

Warrgamay women, Melinda Holden and Bridget Priman are sisters and are the driving force behind the Gambay map.

After completing a course on Indigenous languages at TAFE in Cairns, both women fell in love with learning how to read and write in language.

Ms Priman went on to graduate with a Bachelor of the Arts in Language and Linguistics and Ms Holden obtained a Diploma in Linguistics and Planning.

Together they have been passionate activists for grassroots language communities.

Melinda Holden – Warrgamay

Ms Holden said that as they were learning, they realised there wasn’t somewhere people could to readily access this type of information.

“There was always this nagging question of where do we go to get all of this stuff?” Ms Holden said.

So, about seven years ago, they began researching Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages within Queensland.

“We wanted an overview of what languages were out there,” Ms Holden said.

“We just started putting together a spreadsheet.”

The pair found approximately 320 languages and dialects in Queensland alone.

“We thought maybe this is too big for us,” Ms Holden said.

As members of the Queensland Indigenous Languages Advisory Committee, Ms Holden and her sister presented to the group — and then to First Languages Australia — the idea of an interactive map.

The Gambay map was later launched in 2015.

The map has gone through various iterations and is updated with data and information that regional language centres and community groups want to share.

First Languages Australia includes information as people provide it — things such as spelling, and the areas language groups cover.

“We consult communities on who to speak to and who would have the final say,” Ms Holden said.

A great tool’

Now retired, Ms Holden says what the map is today is more than she could have ever imagined.

“We wanted to see elders talk about their language and their country,” she said.

“We wanted people to know the language of the land they live on, as the language of that region describes the land and animals of that area.”

Now covering the entire country, the Gambay map has become a resource all Australians can use to learn about their local Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages.

“It also helps people find their country,” Ms Holden said.

She says the map can also be used in classrooms.

“It’s far easier for students to learn language now,” she said.

“It’s all there … it’s a great tool.”

Gambay also provides contacts for people who speak their traditional language and are willing to share their knowledge.

If you are a language custodian and would like to add a pronunciation file to your language listing on Gambay, you can email: or get in contact via the Gambay website.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ReconciliationWeek News Alert : #NRW2020 Messages from Minister @KenWyattPM and our @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills : Let’s stand as one and continue being strong. We are all #InThisTogether2020 !’

“ This year’s #NRW2020 theme is ‘In this Together’ – reminds us whether in a crisis or reconciliation we are all #InThisTogether2020.

We have shown during these tough times that we can all do our part to stop the spread of a deadly disease and the results speak for themselves.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be impacted by the legacy of colonisation but what continues is our resilience amidst the adversity we face. When we face adversity together, we see stronger outcomes.

If we all can work together and support the journey of reconciliation, every step forward removes disadvantage and creates a more solid foundation for our country towards a better future for all Australians.”

Read and download full NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills Press Release HERE

Plus details of our Chairs and CEO NRW2020 speaking engagements 27 May

“National Reconciliation Week draws our attention each year to the ongoing efforts to walk together with a shared purpose, and to build a stronger future for all Australians.

This year’s theme, In This Together, resonates in new ways in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and reminds us we all share this land and rely on each other to build a better future.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, has asked Australians to think about what reconciliation means to them and what practical steps they can take to build trust, mutual respect and opportunities for Indigenous Australians. Pictured above with NACCHO CEO Pat Turner 

“The week commences 27 May marking the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and concludes with the anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo decision on 3 June – both significant milestones in our shared history that had profound impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

“These moments in our reconciliation journey remind us of the tireless campaigners who sought to bring us closer and the success that can be achieved when Australians come together as one.”

“This year also marks 20 years since Corroboree 2000 and the memorable Walk for Reconciliation across Sydney Harbour Bridge where close to a quarter of a million people demonstrated their commitment to reconciliation. The images from that day are still striking and it’s important we do not lose that enthusiasm.”

“While we are unfortunately not able to celebrate with gatherings this year due to COVID-19, there are many events happening online that people can get involved with.”

“From film screenings and book recommendations to panel discussions and streamed concerts, there are opportunities for people to learn about our history, engage with Indigenous culture and reflect on what it means to be in this together.”

“I also encourage all Australians to take part in the National Acknowledgement of Country. At midday on Wednesday 27th May, join Indigenous Australians across the nation by posting a video of an acknowledgement of the country you are on with the hashtags #InThisTogether2020 and #NRW2020.”

Visit for a guide to the Traditional Owners of the land you are on.

Visit or to find out more.

NACCHO Press Release: Mabo day highlights need for full constitutional recognition: peak Aboriginal health body



Constitutional recognition is so important because it is about recognition of Aboriginal heritage, our connection to country and our rights as Australia’s First Peoples.

“Racism, discrimination and a lack of respect and recognition have terrible and lasting impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health and social wellbeing.”

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, Matthew Cooke

The peak Aboriginal health organisation today reaffirmed its support for the full and proper recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s Constitution as Mabo Day is celebrated across the country.

Mabo Day commemorates a landmark High Court decision that removed the idea of ‘terra nullius’ from Australian law, after a decade long campaign for a native title claim by a group of Torres Strait Islander people, led by Eddie Koiki Mabo.

Photo /painting :Eddie Koiki Mabo (c. 29 June 1936 – 23 January 1992) from the Torres Strait Islands known for his role in campaigning for Indigenous land rights and for his role in a landmark decision of the High Court of Australia which overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius (“land belonging to nobody”) which characterised Australian law with regard to land and title

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, Matthew Cooke, said Mabo Day celebrates a big step towards reconciliation for Aboriginal people but also highlights how far we have to go and the need to remove all discrimination from the Australian Constitution.

“Twenty three years has passed since that historical decision which finally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders had occupied this land for tens of thousands of years before white colonisation.

“We now need nothing less than full and proper recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s constitution and the removal of all traces of discrimination,” said Mr Cooke.

“Constitutional recognition is so important because it is about recognition of Aboriginal heritage, our connection to country and our rights as Australia’s First Peoples.

“Racism, discrimination and a lack of respect and recognition have terrible and lasting impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health and social wellbeing.

“Constitutional recognition, like the Mabo decision and the national apology, would be another step in the right direction towards not just reconciliation but also in closing the gap in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“However, efforts to achieve recognition need time and proper planning, including an extensive education and awareness campaign to ensure all Australians fully understand why recognition is so important.

“It is also critical that constitutional recognition does not prevent or make void any efforts by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to assert their rights as sovereign peoples or to pursue a treaty.

“The bipartisan support for recognition offers us a real opportunity for us to get this right and ensure the full and proper recognition of Aboriginal people in the Australian Constitution.”

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NACCHO event alert: National Reconciliation Week is almost here!


VIEW the full National Reconciliation Newsletter here

There’s only a few days to go until the start of National Reconciliation Week but it’s not too late to get involved!

Let us know what you’re doing by joining the reconciliation buzz on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtags #NRW2013 and #recognition.

You can also organise an event and register it on the NRW events calendar or find out what’s on in your area.

National Reconciliation Week is the time to build better relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians—and a time to come together to acknowledge the enormous contributions that Australia’s First Peoples have made to shape our nation.

VIEW the full National Reconciliation Newsletter here