Traditional Indigenous languages

The 2020 National Indigenous Languages Report lists the following traditional languages as relatively ‘strong’. These languages are spoken fluently by all age groups, including children and have a relatively large population of speakers.

Northern Territory (north to south)

  • Yolŋu Matha or the Yolŋu group, including Djambarrpuyngu and other varieties
  • Mawng
  • Burarra group, including Burarra
  • Bininj Kunwok group, including Kunwinjku, Kune, Gundjeihmi and other varieties
  • Murrinh Patha
  • Anindilyakwa
  • Warlpiri
  • Alyawarr
  • Arrernte


  • Wik Mungkan

South Australia

  • Western Desert group, including Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and other varieties
  • Anmatyerr

Western Australia

  • Western Desert group, including Pitjantjatjara, Ngaanyatjarra and other varieties


New Indigenous contact languages

The 2020 National Indigenous Languages Report (p. 55) and 2019 Well-being and Indigenous Language Ecologies (WILE) (pp.115-116) include the following new contact languages.

Some have official and well-known names, like Kriol, others have increasing recognition such as Yumplatok (formerly ‘Torres Strait Creole’ or ‘Broken’), while others are at an earlier stage of recognition.

Northern Territory (north to south)

  • Modern Tiwi
  • Kriol
  • Gurindji Kriol
  • Light Warlpiri
  • Wumpurrarni English
  • Alyawarr English

Queensland (north to south)

  • Yumplatok/Torres Strait Creole and the related north-eastern creoles, including Cape York Creole, Napranum Creole, Lockhart River Creole
  • Mornington Island Creole
  • Kowanyama Creole
  • Yarrie Lingo and the related (intermediate) creoles of Palm Talk, Woorie Talk and Cherbourg Lingo
  • Kriol
  • Murdi Language

Western Australia

  • Kriol

As well as these languages that are in everyday use many communities around Australia have active programs to ‘wake up’ their ‘sleeping languages’ and young children may be aware of some of the language that is ‘waking up’.