Efforts to improve fire awareness inspired the Thursday Island community to write a book: Don’t Let Thursday Island Burn. It will be launched 26 March in a community celebration. The book was created during a series of workshops run by Volunteering Qld – Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Natural Disaster Resilience project in partnership with Queensland Fire and Rescue Service. Volunteering Qld encouraged the students to write stories through competitions and fire-safety demonstrations held at Thursday Island Child Care Centre and Our Lady of Sacred Heart School.
The book is a story which teaches fire-safety lessons using illustrations by children aged 3-13 years.
Don’t Let Thursday Island Burn has been nominated for the 2013 Queensland Closing the Gap award. It will be used by State Emergency Services to teach students.
"This has been a great opportunity for our students to participate in the production of a book that focuses on their community. The students enjoyed the interaction with the visiting poet, Uncle Norm and Mr David Prain and they responded well to the discussions about the content of the book. We appreciate this opportunity and we are very proud of the finished product."
Helen Kett, Principal, OLSH School Thursday Island QLD
Jennie Schoof, Project Coordinator for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders Natural Disaster Resilience Project, was the driving force behind the Thursday Island project. As she traveled with Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, delivering their education program on Thursday Island, she saw the chance to introduce a literacy initiative that would actively engage the children.
“The best way to educate a community about an issue is to have a yarn and tell a story. If you have a powerful message that you need to teach to children, you can tell it through a book,” said Jennie.
David Prain, Station Officer for the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, agreed: “The concept of a story book format as a learning tool for young school students I believe has great potential and benefit, as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples learn traditionally by story telling.”