Seventeen young students in the Indigenous Literacy Foundation's Student Ambassador program will attend the national celebrations of Indigenous Literacy Day at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday 3 September.
Aged from 11 to 16 years old, these Student Ambassadors from several states – including New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and ACT – are playing a vital and active role to raise awareness and funding to buy literacy resources for children living in remote Indigenous communities across Australia.
Among our young ambassadors attending the Indigenous Literacy Day event will be Lachlan Coman, our inaugural Student Ambassador. As an 11-year-old, Lachlan Coman inspired How Does Your Garden Grow, a book of stories written by students from Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community. This book was launched at the Opera House on ILD last year.
Let us introduce our other young ambassadors to you.
11 years old Year 6 Tea Gardens Public School NSW
Hannah is Minister for Education in her school’s parliament, a role that has seen her organising book fairs and promoting Indigenous Literacy Day and the Great Book Swap. She loves reading, and coming from a "great reading family" always has a big supply of books on hand. She'd like to know that kids all around Australia are getting the same opportunities that she has to read.
Hannah sees herself as a “country kid” and so identifies with characters in such books as Alison Lester’sThe Snow Pony, The Quicksand Pony and the Bonnie and Sam series. One of the delights of her reading life has been Ethel Turner’s Seven Little Australians, which her cousin recommended. Hannah has been riding horses since she was three years old. More recently, she took up soccer.
11 years old Year 6 St Cecilia’s Wyong NSW
A proud Aboriginal student, Nyssa has helped with the Great Book Swap at her school for the past four years. This year, she'll be helping sort the books for swapping into sections, such as chapter and picture books, so everyone can easily find the kind of book they like to read.
Nyssa loves doing experiments so it’s not surprising that Science is her favourite subject. Her other big passion is ballet, which she’s been doing since she was three years old. She also keeps busy with soccer and swimming squad. At home Nyssa looks forward to some quiet reading time. She loved The Floods by Colin Thompson, about a family of wizards and witches, and at the moment is reading a series of books that her mum read when she was young.
11 years old Year 6 New Lambton South Public School NSW
Kristiana is currently helping organise a Great Book Swap to be held at her school in Children's Book Week. She's keen to have all the students from K to Year 6 involved, and hopes everyone will bring in an already-read book to swap.
Kristiana is vice-captain at her school and involved in running assemblies and the student parliament. She’s put up several motions lately and had them passed! Outside school she loves dancing, swimming and surfing. And she’s an avid reader, having read all the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, The Prisoner of Azkaban being her favourite. She’s just finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and highly recommends it.
11 years old Year 6 Kellyville Public School NSW
Caitlin is very busy at the moment helping organise a Great Book Swap, to be held in the school library. An avid reader who'd like for every child in Australia to have access to books and other reading materials, she is planning to spread the word about Indigenous literacy via assembly and her school’s website.
Caitlin has “lost count” of how many Enid Blyton books she has read. And she can’t recall how many she has re-read either! Her passion for history led her to the My Story series, by various authors, and she’s made her way through lots of those as well. Caitlin loves writing stories herself too – “mostly adventures and mysteries”. She also plays the flute, and is taking up softball. As a library monitor at school, she shelves books and helps the younger kids use the iPads.
11 years old Year 6 Dunoon Public School NSW
Ruby first heard about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation from her teacher and promptly researched us on the internet! And then she decided to get involved. A few weeks ago, Ruby organised a Great Book Swap at her school, as well as a screening of the film Rabbit-Proof Fence in the local community hall to raise funds for our Foundation.
Ruby loves writing stories, and she also loves to read. In the past two years she has devoured every one of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling no fewer than four times! Skateboarding and dancing – jazz, ballet, tap, contemporary and hip hop – are among Ruby’s other interests. In her spare time she bakes lots of delicious cakes and muffins for her family and friends!
11 years old Year 6 Christie's Beach Primary School SA
Jordja is a strong Aboriginal student who is always happy to lend a hand and take on a leadership role within her school community. Having been involved in Reconciliation Week activities, she is now helping plan a Great Book Swap to be held at her school on Indigenous Literacy Day, in conjunction with Families Day celebrations. Jordja is busily getting word out to as many students as possible to ensure the event is a big success.
Jordja loves sport and fitness. She plays second row in her rugby league team, and is happy to be either goal defence or goal attack at netball, although she prefers goal defence. When she's not on the netball court or rubgy field, Jordja can be found drawing or reading. She enjoys a wide range of books, and has recently finished Darkness under the Hills, a novel by William Neville Scott about a young Aboriginal warrior.
12 years old Year 6 Marrickville West Primary School NSW
One of Sofia's passions is promoting good citizenship in her school community so becoming an ILF Student Ambassador was for her a natural fit. At the moment she’s brainstorming with the Indigenous students at her school as to how best to celebrate Indigenous Literacy Day on 3 September.
Sofia has a passion for palaeontology and adores David Attenborough’s documentaries. As school captain, she makes presentations at assembly and is also involved in the students’ representative council. Sofia has recently read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. She also loves book series, her favourites being Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus, Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.
11 years old Year 6 St Cecilia’s Wyong NSW
Taj is a proud Indigenous student who has helped organise the Great Book Swap at his school for the past three years. He is also involved with the Mini Vinnies group, and frequently visits nursing homes to play board games with the elderly residents.
Taj does martial arts and also plays rugby league. He can often be found making apps or YouTube videos on the computer, or playing electronic games. He also loves to read and counts the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney and Andy Griffiths’ The Day My Bum Went Psycho among his all-time favourites.
I am in charge of organising the event. Some things I need to do are announce to the school the information for the day and remind the teachers, students and families to bring in books all week leading up to the day. On the day I help prepare the other Indigenous students to organise the books on tables and collect donations for the books.
Taj Longman, ILF Student Ambassador
15 years old Year 9 Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School NSW
Minnie is a proud Indigenous Australian who is passionate about social justice and keen to do all she can to share the gift of literacy with others. She is the author and illustrator of a self-published picture book, Lost and Found, which she describes as a “tale of dreaming, family and love”. Minnie has generously donated copies of her book to schools as well as to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, and it's selling very well in her local bookstore. Keep an eye out for the sequel!
When she’s not writing, Minnie plays netball – goal defence and goal-keeper – and coaches a team of younger players. Her favourite subjects include Photography and Music, as well as Science, English and History.
10 years old Year 5 Sacred Heart Launceston TAS
Esmae has spent some time living in the Kimberleys and so is very familiar with the lack of access to books for kids living in remote parts of Australia. Passionate about making other students aware of "closing the gap" when it comes to Indigenous literacy, she is currently helping get the word out around school about the Great Book Swap to be held in the gym during Children’s Book Week.
Esmae belongs to her school’s book club so is never short of something to read. She’s read all the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, her favourite one being The Order of the Phoenix. She’s also an immense fan of Andy Griffiths’ Treehouse series, and can’t wait to start on the latest, The 52-Storey Treehouse. Esmae also plays classical violin and stakes her claim on the netball court as goal shooter or defence.
12 years old Year 6 Queanbeyan Public School NSW
Very proud of her Aboriginality, Felicity is well aware that not all Indigenous Australian children have the same access to books and reading materials that she does. Felicity has had key roles in Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week celebrations at her school, and is now helping plan a Great Book Swap to be held in the same week as Indigenous Literacy Day. She'll also be making a powerpoint presentation about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the work it does in distributing books to remote communities.
Having sung in her school choir since she was in Year 1, she was really excited to be singing in the Concert Hall of Sydney Opera House in early August as part of the Festival of Choral Music. Felicity’s favourite books are fantasy and historical novels, and she is currently reading A Lily, A Rose by Sally Nicholls, set in London in the 1800s. Her hobbies include playing the guitar and ukulele, and photography, and she has taken “lots of photos” of her family and the roos and wombats over the back fence.
16 years old Year 11 Elizabeth Macarthur High School NSW
Bradley has been a supporter of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation for some time, having volunteered to help with the Great Book Swap at his school in previous years. Currently he is assisting in the planning of events to celebrate Indigenous Literacy Day and raise funds for our Foundation.
Bradley’s main passion is agriculture – he is establishing an Aboriginal bush tucker garden in the school grounds – and he hopes to go into this field of work when he leaves school. Bradley also spends much time travelling to agricultural shows, including the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, to exhibit the school’s cattle, something he has been doing since he was in Year 7. He reads lots of non-fiction books, Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild being a firm favourite.
I decided to get involved in the Indigenous Literacy Foundation's Great Book Swap for the last two years as it is a great idea to assist Indigenous people to get the reading resources that they need. I will be helping our school librarian again this year to organise the Great Book Swap to raise money for books to give to Indigenous students and communities who have limited access to those resources. As part of the senior school I am proud to have involvement with the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, to encourage people to support this great cause and to encourage them to read.
Bradley Psaroudis, ILF Student Ambassador
16 years old Year 10 St Paul’s College Kempsey NSW
Amy has a passion for social justice within her community, and with a strong sense of personal ethics she really enjoys helping others. Right now, she's helping plan a week-long Great Book Swap to be held in the school library.
Amy’s favourite school subjects are the humanities and she plans to focus on these in senior high. When it comes to reading, her preference is for non-fiction. She was really moved by Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, which she recently finished. Amy has a strong sense of helping in her own community and lends a hand when she can. Next year she’s planning on assisting the homeless by way of Street Retreat. Somehow she also fits in part-time work at the local pharmacy. And she’s learning to surf!
12 years old Year 6 Waniora Public School NSW
Very proud of her Aboriginality, Eden often makes the Welcome to Country at assemblies. During NAIDOC Week in early July, she spoke to the school about Indigenous soldiers who have helped defend Australia in the past. Any spare time she has at the moment is spent helping organise a Great Book Swap, to be held at her school on the day after Indigenous Literacy Day.
Eden is vice captain at her school, and her favourite books include Andy Griffiths’ The Bad Book and The Very Bad Book, as well as Paul Jennings’ “funny, weird stories”. She’s currently reading Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and loving it.
11 years old Year 6 St Joseph’s School Bundaberg QLD
With her aptitude for leadership, Mia has been very keen to get involved in the activities of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Recently she helped organise a "Book Shuffle" which was held at her school in Children’s Book Week. All the students came along dressed as a book character. Maybe some of the teachers did too!
Mia's a great fan of Australian author Morris Gleitzman’s books. She adored the Once, Then & Now series, and is currently well into Girl Underground. Art and music are among her favourite subjects at school, while at home she spends a lot of time doing flips on the trampoline in the backyard! She also loves dance, especially tap and hip hop.
11 years old Year 6 Kambala NSW
Zarah plays an active role in social justice issues at her school, and is very excited and proud to be an ILF Student Ambassador as she loves doing whatever she can to help others. She’s very busy right now helping organise a Great Book Swap; the school library will be the venue.
Zarah also loves writing – stories, diary entries, whatever. And reading is another of her favourite activities. She counts UK comedian and children’s author David Walliams as one of her favourite writers on account of his “very funny sense of humour”. She’s fond too of Jacqueline Wilson’s novels, which focus on human relationships and family issues. And she’s also a big fan of Andy Griffiths: “His writing is really imaginative. It puts me inside the books and makes me want to be there.” When she’s not reading, Zarah’s involved in drama, and she also plays soccer.
16 years old Year 10 St Paul’s College Kempsey NSW
Tilly has long been passionate about social justice issues and improving people's standards of living – not only in in her immediate community, but much further afield as well. With some of her co-students, she is currently planning a fundraising Great Book Swap to support the activities of our Foundation.
Tilly regularly visits old people’s homes to chat with the residents. Her favourite school subjects are “definitely English and History”. She loves words and writing, and says she really enjoys reading Shakespeare and admires “the ways he uses language”. When it comes to novels, the fantasy genre draws Tilly in. She’s recently finished The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and says she still enjoys J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books: “You can never be too old for Harry!”
12 years old Year 6 Holy Cross Kincumber NSW
Indigenous literacy is one of Lilymay's great passions in life. As a student who is proud of her Aboriginal background (she's a fourth generation child from the Stolen Generations), Lilymay helped organise a book sale at her school during Children’s Book Week, with 20% of the money being donated to ILF.
Lilymay has diverse interests. She does cross-stitch, is enthralled by science, and loves books and reading – a lot! Her favourite Australian author is Jackie French, whom friends introduced her to, and she especially liked A Rose for the Anzac Boys. The genre she’s most drawn to, however, is fantasy. She recommends Eragon by Christopher Paolini and is eagerly anticipating reading the sequel Eldest. Lilymay also likes to sketch and draw, and has been figure skating for the past year.
My father and I are making Aboriginal bookmarks and we will also be selling them throughout the week at the Book Fair. The sale will be held in our library and the Aboriginal children and I will have a small display and stall at the entry of the library. Behind this stall there will be drawn posters and paintings made by the Aboriginal children at our school. These will be in traditional Aboriginal designs and colours.
Lilymay Spicer, ILF Student Ambassador
16 years old Year 10 St Paul’s College Kempsey NSW
With his strong passion for social justice, and having been involved in NAIDOC Week events in the past, doing what he can to spread the word about the low rates of literacy in remote Indigenous communities makes good sense to Jai. In he past few weeks he has been helping plan a Great Book Swap at his high school, and is hopeful that lots of money will be raised to support ILF's work in remote Indigenous communities.
Jai is also passionate about maths and science, especially anatomy. He is really interested in the body, health and fitness, and hopes to study medicine after he’s finished school. He has recently started learning to play the guitar, and also plays soccer, AFL and cricket. Jai also does voluntary work in his local community, assisting charities like St Vincent de Paul with their work.
Year 6 West Pymble Public School West Pymble NSW
Cate is passionate about books and reading and believes all children should have the opportunity to experience good literature. She also has a strong social conscience, and although the Great Book Swap at her school is still in the early planning stages, Cate is already thinking about how to promote it among her fellow students.
Cate’s favourite books are the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. She’s read them all nine times, the one she loved most being Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. A recent read is Wonder by R.J. Palacio, which she can strongly recommend. Cate also sings in the school choir and plays netball, with wing attack and goal attack being her positions.