House debates

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Statements by Members

International Mother Language Day

1:54 pm

Photo of Matt ThistlethwaiteMatt Thistlethwaite (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Financial Services) Share this | | Hansard source

Friday was United Nations International Mother Language Day. On this day, UNESCO and UN agencies participate in events to promote linguistic and cultural diversity. In particular, in Bangladesh, it's a public holiday known as Shaheed Day, where locals celebrate Bangladeshi culture and the Bengali language. They commemorate the service and the life of four students who were killed on 21 February 1952 while fighting for the right to use their mother language, Bengali. I am blessed to represent a community that has a very active and passionate Bangladeshi community, and it's something that I'm very, very proud of. I would like to again wish the Australian Bangladeshi community a very happy Shahid Day.

In the wake of International Mother Language Day, it is important to reflect on the 6,000 languages that exist throughout the world. But according to the United Nations, 43 per cent of those are endangered languages. In our own country, where we have the oldest continuing culture in the world in our first Australians, many of the original Indigenous languages have unfortunately disappeared. It is important that we continue to work to preserve Indigenous languages as a link to our First Nations culture and history, and to recognise the importance of these languages that help to give a voice to modern Australia and tell the important true history of Australia.