Building relationships with educators and elders in the APY lands

Building relationships with educators and elders in the APY lands

Packed up with a few hundred books, bags, t-shirts and two bush libraries, the ILF Program team, Tina and Cindy set out onto the unsigned and washed out roads to the APY Lands earlier this month.

APY stands for Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara, and with a population of 2500, the lands consist of Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra peoples, Pitjantjatjara being the dominant language. The APY was incorporated when the South Australia Parliament gave Aboriginal people title to more than 103,000 square kilometers of arid land in the far northwest of South Australia, bordering West Australia and the Northern Territory.

This was the first time ILF has visited the Amata and Ernabella communities in the lands. ILF’s early literacy program, Book Buzz, has been operating in this region for two years at the Ernabella Family Centre and Amata Playgroup, so the trip was to evaluate the success of the program, develop relationships with elders and educators, and to understand how ILF can better meet the needs of the communities.

“The Bush Library Kits were a total hit in both communities,” says Program Coordinator, Cindy Manfong. “We set the books up in the centres and the schools for the kids to choose whatever books they like, then it’s reading time with the new goodies. This trip, the most popular books were those with facts about animals!”

It was a beautiful day for the outdoor Bush Library in Amata. The kids enthusiastically helped set up the bush mat, cushions and reading shade tent under the trees before settling with their families to share their new books.

ILF Program Manager, Tina Raye read ‘The Big Fat Cows’ by Andy Griffiths to the Amata Anungu School, leaving the kids in hysterical laughter and wanting more. “They were so engaged in the story and didn’t want me to stop reading!

At Ernabella Family Centre, the favourite book was Dogs’ by Emily Gravett, where the group was treated to a special reading in Pitjantjatjara. Another favourite was ‘Where’s Spot’ at Ernabella Preschool.

Even in these remote communities in the Musgrave Ranges, the elders express their disappointment that they are seeing the increasing use of English words creeping into their language. “We believe that ILF can play a role in helping to ensure that their language remains strong through translations of the early reader Buzz books into Pitjantjatjara” said Tina. “We met with the language teachers in Amata who showed us the Pitjantjatjara Resource Centres and were really excited to meet with us and hear about our publishing projects.” 

Overall, the trip revealed the great potential for our work in these regions and we look forward to building on these relationships with the APY lands communities.


  • Posted 29 September, 2016

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