Why and how your donation helps Indigenous kids in remote Australia achieve.
We need your help this festive season, but before we ask in earnest, let us explain why your donation is needed and how your donation is spent.
In remote communities across Australia there is often no infrastructure such as libraries or bookstores. Access to reading material is extremely limited.
Remote community, Utopia, Northern Territory
We know reading opens doors to future opportunities and choices. It is a foundation skill that helps you navigate the world around you. It is fundamentally a human right.
A key function of ILF is to gift books to remote communities via our Book Supply program. Book packs are carefully selected for different age groups:
- Toddlers 0-4
- Kids 5-7
- Big kids 8-12, and
- Community 13+
An example of some of the books in the 2021 Toddler Book Supply packs.
Each Community selects the book pack/s they want for their children and, thanks to our major supporter, Australia Post, the packs are delivered to remote community schools and centres to distribute to children and families.
Over 40% of books in the packs feature Indigenous authors and illustrators. Why is this important? Well, kids can see themselves and their culture reflected in the stories, and this builds a connection and a sense of belonging.
By the end of this year, ILF will have provided over 325 remote communities with book packs, totalling 99,000 culturally appropriate books. You can see where these communities are on this map.
Now, think about language.
Imagine not having a book in the language you speak at home? A language you have grown up with. A language you share with your grandparents, your uncles, aunties, cousins, in fact, with your entire community. Now you start school and you have to learn a new language: English.
At ILF, we know the transition to school is challenging for many children, even without having to learn a new language. That's where Book Buzz and our Community Publishing Projects come into play.
Book Buzz supports remote playgroups and collaborates with organisations such as Families as First Teachers (FaFT) in the Northern Territory and KindiLink in Western Australia. The program provides board books, some in English, some in English with Aboriginal language translations and others printed in a first language.
This year we secured the rights to publish popular children's books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where's Spot? and Where’s the Green Sheep? in up to 12 different Aboriginal languages.
This means Communities can read and share a familiar story written in a language that they know and understand. There is abundant research to show that learning to read in your first language - the language you speak at home - enhances your ability to learn a second language, like English.
Book Buzz also provides learning kits with additional resources like puppets and puzzles to support early literacy development.
Through the program, children learn to navigate books: how to hold them, how to move from the start to the end following the story, and to think about what might happen next. It is a vital learning stage in preparing children for school.
As at the end of this year, ILF is supporting 83 early learning remote playgroups.
ILF collaborates with Families as First Teachers in the Northern Territory and KindiLink in Western Australia to support early literacy in remote community playgroups. Photo by Tiffany Parker.
The Community Publishing Projects (CPP) is a sought-after program that supports communities to write and illustrate their own stories.
These stories are created by adults and children in a community and published by our Foundation. The books are then gifted back to the community to share with children and families. Most CPPs are not for commercial sale. These books are highly desired because they often share a local story that the community are familiar with and in a language they speak at home.
It builds a sense of pride, autonomy, confidence and identity when you have a beautiful book that you have created that shares a story that is meaningful to your Community.
In mid 2021, two children’s books were launched in Fitzroy Crossing. You can watch the launch of the books on a short video here.
One of the books, Jarrampa, tells the story of how one old lady used to catch yabbies by putting raw meat between her toes while sitting in the shallow water.
The book has beautiful illustrations and is written in English and Walmajarri. Vicki Hynam, the Education and Development lead at the local Centre, said at the launch of the books, “The children and families rejoiced, they were beside themselves with happiness that the Walmajarri language is being honoured in this way.”
Excerpt from Jarrampa, by Marshia Cook.
The author, Marshia Cook, said she wrote the book for her own children and all the Indigenous children at the school. Also to encourage kids to read more books in language, to know who they are, where they come from and to keep the language strong.
UNESCO has declared 2022-2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages. The declaration emphasises Indigenous people’s rights to freedom of expression, to an education in their mother tongue and to participate in public life using their languages, as prerequisites for the survival of Indigenous languages.
Our Community Publishing Projects are incredibly important for this reason. Books written in language assist in maintaining and preserving a language for generations to come. This year we have published 40 books in 11 languages and next year we are planning to publish another 40 books in 22 languages!
The success of this program can be attributed to long-term, trusting relationships with Community Elders and members.
We listen to the needs and wants of each Community and collaborate throughout the entire process to ensure community leadership and authenticity. Some may like a mentor to help guide the process or deliver a workshop. ILF ambassadors such as Alison Lester, Gregg Dreise and Ann James are acclaimed authors/illustrators and have provided both in person and virtual guidance, when requested.
Over the last few years, ILF has funded acclaimed graphic novelists and a publisher to mentor four Aboriginal teenagers in Alice Springs to publish three graphic novels. These books have received great reviews and are commercially available here.
The Create Initiative Program is an annual Community Publishing Project.
The Create Initiative 2018 participants from the Tiwi Islands. Photo by Tace Stevens.
Although disrupted in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, it is back on the radar for 2022. The program engages up to 12 senior Tiwi girls in an intensive one week writing and illustrating workshop. The girls are flown to Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns or Darwin to work with ILF ambassadors, like TV presenter and specialist educator Shelley Ware and author David Lawrence, to develop a story and write a book. By the end of the week, thanks to a publishing sponsor, the book is published.
To date there have been seven Create Initiative programs and all seven books have been published and are commercially available. They provide an incredible window into the language and the lives of young people in the Tiwi Islands. Who in the city would think that a buffalo and a dugong would prevent the football star from getting to her game on time!
So now we are back at the start. Why is your donation needed?
Because kids in remote Australia need access to culturally relevant books to inspire a love of reading.
Because being able to read is a foundation skill that helps you navigate the world around you.
Because early learners need appropriate books and learning resources to transition to school and learn in English.
Because having books that share local stories in first languages, preserves and maintains Indigenous languages and culture, as well as builds pride, identity and strengthens a sense of belonging and confidence.
This investment in infrastructure is lacking in remote Australia and it impacts the achievements of Indigenous children.
The ILF is a charity and receives no Government funding. Below is a guide to the funding needed to support our programs:
- $10 puts a book into the hands of a child in remote Australia
- $300 funds a Book Buzz learning kit for a remote playgroup
- $5,000 funds the translation and publication of an English language book into an Aboriginal language
- $15,000 funds the creation and publishing of a book for a community
- $40,000 funds a Create Initiative program
Please donate generously. Visit festive.ilf.org.au.
If your organisation would like to fund a particular program or event, please contact David Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to learn more about our programs and how you can get involved, please email email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you. It is only by working together, that we can give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote communities across Australia, opportunities to achieve.