We were very disappointed to find out about this development and strongly encourage our national broadcaster to continue investing in providing daily news in Kriol to the estimated 10,000 Kriol speakers living in the Northern Territory.
ABC’s Indigenous Language News Services started in 2015 with bulletins five days a week in Yolngu Matha and Warlpiri. At the time of the launch, Charlie King said:
“The Indigenous Language News Service Trial aligns closely with the aims and objectives of the ABC’s Reconciliation Action Plan. This service will increase access to the ABC’s high quality, independent news programming for Aboriginal people living in some of the remotest parts of the Northern Territory for many of whom English is a second language”.
Then in 2016, Kriol became the third language to feature in ABC’s Indigenous language news service. Bulletins are posted on the ABC News website via Soundcloud and downloadable so that community radio stations can rebroadcast to additional audiences. Portions were broadcast daily on ABC Darwin and ABC Alice Springs radio but this practice appears to have ceased.
Several months ago, the five-times-a-week services in the three languages became weekly services. This is despite issues being raised earlier this year during Cyclone Trevor of the importance of up-to-date information being supplied in Indigenous Languages. The cut to Indigenous language news services also come about during the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Commentators such as former ABC Radio presenter Vicki Kerrigan and former State Director of ABC NT Christopher Smyth are seeking more information about the service cuts. At the moment, reasons behind the cuts are unclear.
News in #Aboriginal languages should be expanded not scrapped. @Malarndirri19 spoke up about @abcnews scrapping shortwave radio services. Hopefully the #NT Senator plus @lukejgosling can make some noise about this appalling decision. https://t.co/V6KEB9GFox
— Vicki Kerrigan (@VickiKerrigan) August 23, 2019
Parts of the Northern Territory are regarded as global hotspots for language endangerment. It is well known that for a language to be considered healthy and strong, it needs to feature in different domains across society, including media.