Tonight is Federal Budget night in Australia, and as expected “mums and dads” around the country will be better off (but not my mum and dad, I can assure you). There have also been leaks from Canberra that several other areas will enjoy increased funding in the coming financial year. One commentator this morning claimed that ‘all sectors would receive a boost’.

Aboriginal housing, health and education will receive an extra billion dollars, which I applaud in particular, I just hope it finds its way to the people that need it most. But I suspect something that won’t receive much extra will be the difficult to categorise area of language research, documentation and revitalisation.

A quick Google search shows that the revitalisation of indigenous languages in Australia falls under the scope of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, as a part of their ‘cultural heritage’ department. But a brief perusal of their website fails to return any pages related to indigenous languages dated any time after 2001, apart from the odd reference in non-related pages. Has cultural heritage been shifted to another department since 2001?

I’m asking this earnestly. I have no idea which department represents my interests in indigenous languages in Australia, and I think I should know.

Sadly, this is an election year. I think we can expect a huge amount of money being spent on tax-cuts and other such electoral sweeteners, we’ll also see extended rebates for the installation of solar panels and perhaps some other measures designed to tap into the populations concern over climate change. But I don’t think we’ll see a great deal of extra funding for things that aren’t quite as prominent in people’s minds such as the rapid and irreversible loss of languages and culture in Aboriginal Australia.

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<update>
May 9: Did anyone notice anything conspicuously missing from the budget speech? Is it just me or was there a marked absence of any announcements relating to that leaked extra billion for Aboriginal housing, health and education?

I thought at first that Costello just neglected to mention it. Cooper raised the issue in an email as well, and then I saw this report, which points out that there doesn’t seem to be anything in this budget for the indigenous population beyond token gestures. And this is straight after a World Health Organisation report that Australia’s Aboriginal population are experiencing living standards not seen in the west in one hundred years.

This government needs to work on priorities.
</update>