Language rights and Indigenous human rights in central Australia

Author/editor: S. Holcombe and A. Nampitjinpa Anderson
Year published: 2021
Issue no.: 03/2021


In this Policy Insights paper we use the successful COVID-19 health messaging in an Indigenous language as a lever to explore the ways in which communication rights for Aṉangu are coupled with their collective rights as Indigenous Australians, as a particular strand of human rights. There is a fundamental relationship between the recognition of language rights and Aṉangu being able to more readily realise other human rights. This extends beyond issues of comprehension and enabling freedom of opinion and expression in language. As we discuss in this paper, it also ultimately extends to being enabled to access the core principles of universal human rights in the local vernacular in order to render them locally meaningful. The human rights activist and philosopher Boaventura de Sousa Santos has long argued for a human rights discourse that can embrace different cultures and religions, which he articulates as a multicultural human rights. In this paper we begin to articulate what this might look like for Aṉangu, taking communication rights as a foundational platform.

Updated:  3 June 2021/Responsible Officer:  Centre Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications