Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 13 September 2017) . . Page.. 3607 ..
and teach languages, history and culture to their students. At the last election the ACT Greens called for additional funding for our community language schools, since current funding has not been adjusted to reflect increasing numbers of students and rising administrative costs. While it is great to see more students utilising our community language schools, it is important that funding continues to keep up with demand. This is one practical way the government can actively support the promotion of mother languages and language training in the territory.
Mr Coe’s motion makes mention of a number of other ways that mother languages can be supported, including through promotion in ACT libraries and, in particular, the preservation of the ACT Heritage Library’s oral histories collection. These are programs that will benefit our community, and the Greens are pleased to support them through this motion. I am interested to hear more about the concept behind the proposal for a monument in Canberra dedicated to mother languages. We are certainly happy to support Minister Stephen-Smith’s amendment to explore options for this concept, noting that further details about the design and location of such a monument would need to be considered. We welcome input from the community on that process.
In concluding, the ACT Greens want culturally and linguistically diverse communities to be engaged and connected with the broader Canberra community, as well as supported to build networks within their own communities. We support community programs to foster harmony and social cohesion and programs to preserve and protect languages, making an important contribution to that goal. I thank Mr Coe for bringing this motion forward today and for providing an opportunity to celebrate cultural and linguistic diversity through this discussion. The Greens are pleased to support the motion and Minister Stephen-Smith’s amendment.
MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (11.32): It seems only right that I very briefly address this motion in my mother language.
Mrs Kikkert then spoke in Tongan.
Translation: I am very glad for the opportunity to be here with you this morning to discuss this important issue. I was born in Tonga; I spoke Tongan growing up. My Tongan language is a blessing to me. I would like to thank Alistair Coe for supporting this issue and bringing it up for us to discuss.
I am, in fact, one of three Liberal MLAs in this Assembly whose mother tongue is not English. This means that, when Mr Coe and the rest of the Canberra Liberals speak up about the significance of first languages and the importance of maintaining and celebrating mother languages, we are not merely speaking about other people; we are speaking from a position informed by personal experience.
My first language is incredibly important to me. It forms an essential part of my identity. As linguists, anthropologists and other scholars have repeatedly pointed out, language is closely tied to both culture and identity. Languages serve as libraries of cultural knowledge as well as enabling the transference of that knowledge across generations. The language we first learn as infants is embedded with places, histories, spiritual beliefs and family systems, just to name a few, and it frames how we see and