The Research Unit for Indigenous Language (RUIL) was established in 2013 and is the first of its kind in Australia.
The research unit is centred around a team from the School of Languages and Linguistics with an exemplary record in research on the languages of Indigenous communities in both Australia and the region. The University of Melbourne is the national (and global) leader in this important area of research.
The RUIL team comprises core research staff with a variety of specialisations, working on languages in Australia and in the surrounding region (including Indonesia and Vanuatu). Team members also work closely with a range of external collaborators (see RUIL associates). The team is supported by a project officer who also facilitates ongoing training and outreach activities. Key staff associated with the research unit all have substantial track records of publications and ARC and other competitive grants in the area, and an established history of collaboration.
While focusing predominantly on research outputs, the Research Unit for Indigenous Language also works with indigenous community members to build their capacity to carry out linguistic work on their own languages. This is either via training workshops delivered at conferences, or through focused work geared toward community projects. We also work toward increasing the general public's awareness and understanding of issues surrounding Indigenous languages in Australia. We run training sessions geared toward school-aged groups, host public lectures and actively promote linguistic diversity through our Social Media presence. For more information please see the news and events page.
The establishment of this research unit places the Faculty of Arts and the University of Melbourne at the forefront of this research domain, with its recognised importance for government policy, education, and the health and well-being of Australia's indigenous population. To discover more about our research projects, see our Research web page; to hear about outreach and other activities, see the news and events web page.
Thanks to Jenny Green for the sand-and-wire image used throughout the RUIL website and associated media.
The Leary Trust for Australian Indigenous Languages
In 2017 RUIL received Duncan Leary’s extraordinary multi-million dollar bequest for the research of Australian Indigenous languages. This generous bequest – the largest ever for the research of Australian languages – has ensured that RUIL’s activities to strengthen Indigenous language research and support Indigenous communities in their language-related goals can continue into perpetuity.
Duncan Leary graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts. He met his life partner, chef Ernest Lanz, in Geneva, Switzerland, before the couple returned permanently to Melbourne in the 1960s. Duncan maintained a strong association with the University of Melbourne for the rest of his life, studying many subjects through Melbourne’s continuing education program, including a number in the fields of Aboriginal history and culture. Though we know little about his connection to Indigenous languages, it is clear that Duncan was a passionate linguist, speaking five languages in addition to English.
We at RUIL are so extraordinarily grateful for Duncan Leary’s generosity, which will continue to have a substantial impact on Indigenous language research and the ways in which we are able to support Indigenous communities to maintain their linguistic heritage.