Community Languages Australia

Australian Federation of Ethnic Schools Associations Inc.

Community Language Australia

What are Community Language Schools?

Community Languages Australia (CLA), officially called AFESA - Community Languages Australia, represents all community language school state and territory federations and associations at a national level. Historically, CLA was also known as the Australian Federation on Ethnic Schools Association, which was changed to AFESA - Community Languages Australia in 2019.

In operation since 1857, Australia’s ethnic schools, now more commonly referred to as community language schools, are not-for-profit institutions that are usually led by a culturally and linguistically diverse community. Community language schools facilitate their students’ cultural and language learning in an authentic setting. They also consolidate Australia’s identity as a truly multicultural society – a society that embraces and celebrates an infinite spectrum of diversity in backgrounds, histories and heritages amongst its citizens.

The Importance of Community Language Schools

With a rich heritage of Aboriginal tribes and languages, Community Languages Australia (CLA) recognises that Australia has always been a country of great linguistic and cultural diversity. In more recent history, various migration streams from different linguistic and cultural groups have made Australia their homes. Nowadays, almost every second Australian has at least one parent who was born overseas. Over 300 identified languages other than English are spoken by over 6 million people in Australian homes. It shows the importance languages and cultural education have across all Australian states and territories, especially for families and communities who want to maintain some of their linguistic and cultural heritage. No one school system can teach the variety of languages that exist in Australia’s diverse communities. That is why community language schools play a crucial role in complementing mainstream education, providing languages and cultural education at the community level.

Authentic languages education - from the community for the community.

Community Language School Associations and Federations

In each state and territory, associations and federations have formed, representing and supporting the diverse and fragmented network of community language schools. They facilitate important synergies between schools. They are also instrumental in cooperating with state bodies and governmental authorities to enhance community language school recognition, funding and support within their state or territory. Here a list of all Australian Community Language School Associations and Federations, which CLA is representing:

In Brief

  • Community Languages Schools (or ethnic schools) are after-hours language schools that provide mother tongue language teaching and cultural maintenance programs.
  • They are complementary providers of languages education to mainstream schools in Australia.
  • Their role is articulated in the National Languages Statement and National Languages Plan endorsed by the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA).
  • Schools receive funding through the Australian Government's School Language Programme which distributes funding to State and Territory education jurisdictions. Some State and Territory Departments of Education provide additional funding. Parents supplement the running of schools by paying fees and schools also conduct fundraising events to meet the additional costs of running classes.
  • Each State and Territory Department of Education regulates registration, accreditation and funding processes. School authorities must be a legal not for profit organization to be eligible for funding.
  • Each State and Territory has its own Ethnic Schools/Community Languages Schools Association or Federation.
  • Community Languages Australia (CLA) coordinates the activities of all State and Territory Ethnic Schools/Community Languages Schools Associations and Federations under the umbrella of the Australian Federation of Ethnic Schools, Associations Inc. (AFESA)

Contact Us

Community Languages Australia

Executive Officer: Fahry Abubaker

L2, 189 Faraday St,
Carlton Vic 3053

Phone: (03) 9349-2683
Fax: (03) 9349-26893