Since 2016, Women’s Safety Services of Central Australia (WSSOCA) has been receiving boxes of books, gifted by our Foundation.
WSSOCA is a not-for-profit, non-government organisation that assists women and children experiencing family violence. It’s based in Alice Springs, but works in four remote Indigenous communities: Hermannsburg, Yuendumu, Papunya and Ti Tree.
Some of the books are placed in community safe houses or women’s shelters, where the women and children have unlimited access to them during their stay.
Many of the books we supply are written by Indigenous authors, and at the safe house in Hermannsburg, which supports up to 44 women and their children at any given time, the women were amazed and delighted when they came across When I Was Little, Like You in the book packs. Written by Mary Malbunka, a local woman from Haasts Bluff, who some of the women knew, this picture book tells of Mary’s experiences growing up in the early days of the government settlement at Papunya.
“So it’s not only the kids who love these books, but the adults too,” explains Team Leader, Maxine Ballard. “One of the women said, 'It’s beautiful to see a book from where I come from.'"
A lot of the books are given directly to the children who are staying with their mothers in the shelters, for them to keep.
“Many of these kids have very few books at home. And when they are given a book it’s like ‘whoa’, they are so happy!”
At the safe house at Ti Tree, one four-year-old loved a particular book so much that she read it every time she came in. Each day she would look at the book — Pearl the Magical Unicorn, by Sally Odgers — running her finger under the lines of words as she “read” them. She’d make a small mark on the page so she’d know exactly where she was up to the next day when she picked up the book again.
“Rest assured, the books we get from ILF are going to excited kids who love to read.”