Indigenous Literacy Day in Melbourne started with the first sunny day of Spring in Melbourne at Deakin Edge - Federation Square overlooking the beautiful Yarra River.
Students from 20 primary and high schools from across greater Melbourne came in with a gold coin and a book to join the celebrations and the Great Book Swap event.
The day started with a Welcome to Country from Aunty Joy Murphy, while holding her book Welcome to Country and an eucalyptus branch. She told all the students to look around on their way home and take a leaf from a eucalyptus tree - “That means you are welcome, from the tops of the trees to the roots of the earth.”
Gregg Dreise, author, musician and descendent of the Kamilaroi tribe, was up to the stage with a large duffle bag slung across his shoulder. The land of the Kamilaroi extends from New South Wales to southern Queensland. He told the students that on his trip from home to Melbourne, he went foraging for bush tucker to bring to the gathering. He zipped open his duffle bag and passed around the food he found; berries, witchetty grubs and snakes — otherwise known as MnM’s, twisties and jelly snakes.
After feeding the crowd, he said some music would make the gathering complete. Gregg pulled out his didgeridoo and all the students were on their feet, and at his instructions, did the Floss Dance.
One of the main events for ILD in Melbourne was the launch of the book Deadly Sisters of Worawa. Written by a group of thirteen young women from remote communities across Australia who board at Worawa Aboriginal College, with the help of author and Lifetime Ambassadors Anita Heiss and Ambassador Shelley Ware. The students produced the first draft of this book in one week.
Anita and Shelley introduced each of the authors individually and sung the praises of the students including the special traits that helped produce a remarkable book. Cheyenne Hayes and Jessica Byford, two of the student authors, read from their newly launched book.
Cheyenne spoke passionately about her dream of finishing school at Worawa, having a career, and becoming a politician in Australia. She spoke about her environmental concerns for the land and how she wants to be a voice of change for Mother Nature.
Jessica read from their book and told the audience, “Speak up, you’re not alone, we are all students calling Australia our home.”
Andy Griffiths introduced the 2018 ILF Student Ambassadors who joined the celebrations from Victoria, South Australia and Queensland, before they helped our visiting school students who raced to the tables piled high with pre-loved books for the Great Book Swap. Everyone left happy, reading on the way out and comparing and re-swapping with friends.
As they left, a teacher said to a student, “We can go and read in the sun". It was the perfect comment to conclude a day that celebrates literacy and which aims to give children living in the remotest parts of Australia the opportunity to have new, engaging books.
Congratulations to all involved – and a huge thanks to Kate Sloggett and Robyn Huppert from the Australian Booksellers Association for helping make it all possible, Christine Gordon from Readings for running our Bookstore, and to our fabulous team of volunteers from Viva Energy Australia, Readings, Penguin Random House, Mitsubishi Australia and Hardie Grant Publishing.
Sign up to Fill A Bookshelf to support the Indigenous Literacy Foundation: www.ild.org.au
- Posted 05 September, 2018