Indigenous languages are a key element of Indigenous peoples’ cultural expression, autonomy, identity, and spiritual and intellectual sovereignty. As such, they are vital to wellbeing. While the links between Indigenous language loss and poor mental health have been demonstrated in several settings, little research has sought to identify the potential psychological benefits that may derive from language reclamation. To date there has been no systematic study of the impact of language revival on mental health and wellbeing. The revival of the Barngarla language on the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, offers a unique opportunity to examine whether improvements in mental health and social and emotional wellbeing can occur during and following the language reclamation process.
The Barngarla Language and Wellbeing Study has four objectives:
1. To further develop, deliver and evaluate language reclamation activities with Barngarla people;
2. To explore the positive impacts of pilot language activities through semi-structured interviews with language reclamation participants;
3. To develop quantitative methods for assessing mental health and social and emotional wellbeing in partnership with community Barngarla language experts; and
4. To prospectively assess mental health and social and emotional wellbeing of community-based language reclamation workshop participants over the course of the project.