What Indigenous Literacy Day means to us

September 1, 2022

Indigenous Literacy Day aims to raise awareness and funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF), which supports remote Communities across Australia to shape their children’s literacy future. This year’s theme is Celebrating Stories, Cultures and Languages, highlighting the importance of sharing knowledge through First Nations storytelling and language, and of keeping 65,000 years of culture alive and strong.

Copyright Agency staff have long supported the ILF’s work, which has yielded positive outcomes in more than 400 remote Communities since 2011. In championing the creation of Australian content, we also seek to make that content accessible, and strongly believe that every child should have equal access to books and other language and literacy resources.

“Literacy is the key to independence and knowledge for everyone. Indigenous Literacy Day acknowledges the importance of ensuring our First Nations communities have access to literacy resources, so they don’t miss out of this foundation of education. My mum grew up during WW2 in Italy and was unable to go to school as my grandfather was blind and she had to be his ‘eyes’. As a child I had to help my illiterate mother fill out bank forms and pay bills. In my thirties, I did an adult literacy course so I could teach my mum how to read and write. I saw the joy of learning and to be literate firsthand and the new confidence my mum had in life, no longer dependent on her children.”Rosanna Arciuli, RAP Officer at Copyright Agency.

We asked some of our peers (who are authors, publishers, and teachers) what Indigenous Literacy Day means to them. The responses we received were insightful, significant and varied:

“Indigenous Literacy spells the path to success in any language.”Dub Leffler, Author/Illustrator.

“Now more than ever there is a great diversity of First Nations authors writing books. Books are filled with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories, language and culture to pass on culture, and keep us strong.”Terri Janke, Author/Lawyer/IP expert.

“Indigenous Literacy Day is an important reminder to us of the value of reading and writing in our Indigenous Community. As a teacher of young Indigenous students, the importance of developing a love of reading and writing is paramount to their future. If they can read and write it opens up an unlimited world of choices as they grow older.”Tina Brayan, Redfern Jarjum College.

“This is an opportunity to celebrate First Nations storytelling in all forms, recognising that great writing and storytelling doesn’t have to emerge from individuals or communities that are ‘literate’. Often the best kids’ books begin as oral stories – they’re the best yarns, tried and tested on attentive listeners.

“It’s about our kids having access to books they want to read, books that represent their worlds and their interests – and not assuming we know what those books might be, or being a snob about any of it. A day to reflect on the breadth and diversity of First Nations books for young readers – there are so many great titles to get your hands on. Get down to your local bookstore or your library.”Rachel Bin Salleh, Publisher, Magabala Books.

On Indigenous Literacy Day, everyone is encouraged watch a special digital event online. You can register to join in on the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s free event this Wednesday September 7 and find further resources at their website here.

If you’d like to support the ILF’s incredible work providing books, books in First Languages, and learning resources to children and families in remote Communities, you can donate here.

You can also support Magabala Books’ Small Seeds program, which supports early childhood literacy by providing culturally relevant books to children with limited access.