ON AUSTRALIA DAY in 2016, artist Elizabeth Close was at an Adelaide shopping centre speaking to her young daughter in Pitjantjatjara, when a woman approached and said to her: ‘It’s Australia Day. We speak English.’ Close was shocked, and replied, ‘Pardon?’ The woman slowed down her speech and repeated herself. Close retorted that as she was speaking a native Australian language, she ‘could not get more Australian’. The woman walked off without another word.[i]
The results of the 2016 Census reveal that more than three hundred languages are spoken in homes across the nation, and that more than 21 per cent of Australians speak a language other than English at home.[ii] That is one fifth of our population, and it is likely a modest estimate, as the Census does not account for Australians who did speak a language other than English at home but have since moved... Read more
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