Jessica Mauboy on her Tour, Literacy, and Believing in the Next Generation of Storytellers

Jessica Mauboy on her Tour, Literacy, and Believing in the Next Generation of Storytellers

“I am really proud, I’m proud to be an Ambassador, to voice what the ILF believes in and to help young people, and particularly First Nations young people, to inspire, motivate, and encourage. So that they will have opportunities and they will have experience and that they will be confident in whatever industry they will be in,” says ILF Ambassador Jessica Mauboy.

Jessica Mauboy is one of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s (ILF) longest serving Ambassadors. She has celebrated Indigenous Literacy Day with students from remote Community schools at the Sydney Opera House, visited Communities including in the Tiwi Islands, and supported the ILF by raising awareness and support for its programs. 

In 2022 and 2023 Mauboy was involved in the Indigenous Literacy Day (ILD) FILMs, celebrating stories, cultures and languages with hundreds of thousands of viewers each year. 

Mauboy is also extremely passionate about the work of the ILF and advocates for the next generation of First Nations storytellers in every aspect of her life.

Jessica Mauboy featurted in the 2023 ILD FILM, viewed by over 300,000 people

Yours Forever Tour 

Mauboy released her Yours Forever record in February 2024 and is touring throughout March, April and into the beginning of May. 

She explains that her new record and tour is about her relationship with music.

“It seems like the perfect introduction to life and my relationship with music and particularly how amazing it's been for me.”

When putting a tour together, there are a lot of things that Mauboy and her team needs to consider.

After coming up with the tour title Yours Forever, Mauboy needs to curate the perfect list of songs. 

“The list of songs is probably the hardest one because there are so many songs and a lot of people have their favourite ones. I particularly love curating the new songs as well as a lot of the older songs.”

“The last thing that happens is the tour costumes. When we start on the tour costumes, that is when it’s really close to the show. That's when we start to get the jitters, you get nervous but also really excited!” 

Putting the tour together has taken around half a year. It is a real process, but an exciting opportunity to share the new record with the country. 

Jessica Mauboy featured in and co-hosted the in the 2022 ILD events. Photo by Joseph Mayers

Literacy and Music 

A big part of why Mauboy loves working with the ILF is because literacy has been so fundamental to her music career. 

“Literacy has played a major part in my career,” she says. 

Mauboy strongly believes that learning to read and write, in any language, can enable people to understand their feelings and their relationship to the world. 

“Literacy has made me realise how to engage with others and particularly with myself and my own feelings. Without reading and writing, I never would have discovered that I can create my own music and know how to write and know that I can feel the way that I do. 

“I am really grateful for the people that were there to teach me as a young person. That education has been the big key to a lot of my writing and how I communicate and engage with my team.”

Representation in Books and Music 

The ILF focuses on creating books by and for First Nations Communities so that they can see their lives, cultures, families and languages represented in a story. This encourages young ones to pick up books, connect with them, and read. 

When asked what representation means to her, Mauboy emphasised that it is so important. 

“I think representation is so important, particularly for First Nations kids. And I say that because of my experiences as a young person at school, picking up a lot of the First Nations books. I could see myself in them and that created a foundation, an opportunity for me to imagine myself in that job, industry, or in that space.”

Without seeing people who represent your Community, culture, and language, it is difficult for young children to relate to books.

“For me, representation really drove me and encouraged me to be where I am today. Whether that be in books, news, media, movies, shows, posters, pictures, it really allowed me to want to be that person in that picture, or experience what they were going through when I grew up.” 

This is why Mauboy loves working with the ILF. To support the publication of First Nations content that is Community-led, so that kids can see their lives reflected in books.

“It is also important for industries to create space for First Nations people to feel that they can be in that environment. It brings innovation, it brings a point of difference and also brings creativity. Without that, there is a sense of letdown. So I think it is important for all industries to take part in representation.”

Storytelling is Sacred 

When writing music, Mauboy is sharing a piece of her life with the world. And she’s learning that not only does she have to respect her craft, but that it is also sacred to her.

“When I started reading and learning how to write, I think it became very sacred.”

“I learnt how to craft my own story and my own feelings. I learnt how to express how I was feeling throughout the day, who I met that day and how they made me feel, particularly when I felt alone, unworthy, or sad. I think that helped me explore my feelings and when it comes to writing an album in particular, it is sacred.”

The Yours Forever record is Mauboy’s vision and her experience – it is also a journey of healing. 

“I use music as part of healing and remembering stories and moments in my life that were celebrations or were really sad. I can create a space where music gives me a piece of experience, life, connection, home, family, and also places and people I’ve met along the way.”

The Yours Forever record is deeply personal and shares memories, stories and moments of Mauboy’s life with the world. 

Being an ILF Ambassador

The ILF is so honoured to have Mauboy as an Ambassador because she is a proud advocate of First Nations literacy. 

“I’m a huge supporter of ILF. I’m one of those fans, I honestly get so excited when I hear about what ILF does and their incredible programs.”

Jessica Mauboy on an ILF trip to the Tiwi Islands, 2019. Photo by Wayne Quilliam

When she was first introduced to the ILF, Mauboy was struck by their vision of Reading Opens Doors. This means that Reading Opens Doors to future opportunities and choices. Literacy and the ability to read is a navigational skill that helps people understand the world around them. 

“I think for me, that is the future,” says Mauboy. 

“Opening doors for yourself, or for loved ones, for your family, for your Community. It creates other pathways and future opportunities and choices. And that's what ILF believes in, and why I love that vision and that affirmation.”

However, the ILF does not only focus on teaching children English to navigate the world around them. More importantly, the ILF believes in capturing stories in children’s books. These stories might have been passed down for thousands of generations. Alternatively, they may be new stories that reflect daily life in Community. Either way, these stories capture culture, language, Country and Lore for generations to come.

“For First Nations people to have that purpose to be able to pass on that knowledge, pass on those stories, to have representation, it makes a great environment, a great space. That is why I have been an ILF Ambassador for so long, because I believe in their words and their vision, I believe in their programs that run with First Nations Communities throughout Australia. Reading and writing, passing that knowledge on, it’s key and builds dreams and makes them possible.”

This work also enables young people to showcase the incredible talents and abilities that they already have. 

“That is why I have remained an ILF Ambassador for so many years. Because I believe in young people. For them to be our leaders one day and tell us what needs to be done. For our environment, for our kids, for our families, for our Communities.”

To see Jess in concert or read more about music, please visit

For any media inquiries, please contact Jackie Evans ILF Publicist | 0407 776 222 |

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Written by Ella Schofield

  • Posted 18 March, 2024

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