The 1st of September marks Indigenous Literacy Day across Australia. Each year, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation raises awareness for the indigenous literacy gap and the long term impact literacy can have across remote, rural, and Indigenous communities.
What is the Indigenous Literacy Gap?
According to the 2019 National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), only 36% of Indigenous year five students in remote areas are at or above the national minimum reading standards. This is compared to 96% for non-Indigenous students in our major cities. The Indigenous Literacy Foundation has found that many of the communities they work with report owning less than five books in family homes.
Being literate affects all areas of life – more than many people might realise. People with low literacy skills are more likely to face poverty, low educational attainment and health problems because they can’t read prescription labels or instructions. Parents with low literacy may struggle to support their children, which can lead to low literacy being continued through generations.
Thanks to groups like the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, the situation is improving, but there is still a long way to go and many challenges to overcome.
Indigenous students and young people already face numerous health, social and educational disadvantages across our society. Literacy shouldn’t – and doesn’t have to – be one of them.
How Does Indigenous Literacy Day Help?
Indigenous Literacy Day aims to raise awareness and grow the education of others about this urgent issue in our communities.
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation has three core programs to help achieve this:
- Book Supply: Working at a proactive community level, the Book Supply program provides new, culturally appropriate books to schools and organisations working in remote communities. By providing books that meet readers’ needs, educators and families alike can get children excited and engaged in literacy, building their confidence and enjoyment of reading over time.
- Book Buzz: Aimed at under five-year-olds, Book Buzz aims to do what it says on the tin – create a buzz around books, reading and storytelling! Through dedicated Story Time sessions, children learn to develop familiarity with books, ready to start school with confidence and keep building on their reading, writing and storytelling skills.
- Community Publishing Projects: The Indigenous Literacy Foundation also works with remote communities to publish books in 26 Indigenous languages. This program supports Indigenous languages from Walmajarri in the Kimberley region to Arabana in South Australia to Kriol in the Katherine region. It encourages younger generations to engage with reading and storytelling through the languages of their ancestors.
How Can You Support and Get Involved?
Indigenous Literacy Day is an opportunity to show your support and raise awareness for literacy in our remote communities, but it’s also a chance to engage with the vibrant storytelling that exists across Australia.
One of the best ways to get involved this year is to join the free virtual event – Celebrating Stories and Language – hosted from 9 am on Wednesday 1st September.
You can tune into over fifty inspiring short videos of incredible storytellers from across Australia, along with graphic novelists, stories and animations from young children and Elders based in our remote communities.
Be sure to register now to receive a reminder about this exciting, free Indigenous Literacy Day celebration.
There are lots of other ways to get proactive and show your support, including:
- Make a donation: You can make a direct financial donation via the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s website. Your donation will go towards funding their core programs.
- Hold a book swap fundraising event: Celebrate the love of reading and literacy through hosting a book swap! This is a great way to share and spread books across your school or community. You could ask for a gold coin donation from attendees and donate your fundraising efforts to support more books in remote communities. Get help and ideas on coordinating a book swap here.
- Raise awareness through an Indigenous Literacy Foundation t-shirt: Start a conversation by wearing an ILF t-shirt for the day and help to keep raising awareness for what the day is all about! Even better, all proceeds support ILF programs operating in over 250 remote communities throughout Australia.
- Set up a donation box at school: A simple way to show your support is through a donation box at school. Maybe you can set a competition and see which year group or class and raise the most funds? Get your teachers involved too! You’ll probably be surprised at what you can achieve together!
- Share the literacy love on social media: Help to raise further awareness by following and sharing the good work of the ILF through social media. Perhaps you could share a picture of your favourite childhood books or current reads? Tag @IndigenousLiteracyFoundation on Facebook and Instagram, and @IndigenousLF on Twitter.
Support Indigenous Rights with a Legal Career
Literacy is only one of the battles our Indigenous young people have to face. Historical challenges are ongoing across healthcare, social support, mental health, youth justice and education – to sadly name only a few.
If you’re interested in supporting Indigenous rights, a career in law could be right for you. Learn more about the legal sector – including community law – via our newly launched Industry Profiles right here.