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Indigenous Literacy Day today

 It is a basic human right, to be able to read and write yet we know that it is a privilege that so many Indigenous live without. Still today the statistics show that only 1 in 5 children in remote communities can read at the national expected level. 

While our culture has survived through our ability to share stories, so many go without the ability to read a story.  

Today we should celebrate academic achievement and Indigenous excellence. But we must also create awareness about the barriers that so many indigenous Australians face. Barriers that do not need to exist and which can be broken down. 

Like many others, at GenerationOne, we realise literacy can be one of the most common barriers to gaining entry into employment for many Indigenous people. The task of filling out an application form is one of the first hurdles in the recruitment process. Without functional literacy, too many Indigenous Australians are missing out on the economic opportunities available through employment. 

Noel Pearson speaks of ending the ‘racism of low expectation’, which keeps children in school without pushing students to achieve at the same levels as every other child. As parents, leaders, citizens, teachers and friends, we should be dreaming for our children to be leaving school with top honours. There is no shame in being intelligent. 

I have experienced first hand the struggles associated with literacy, and also know the freedom and pride that comes from being literate. 

I once was told on a remote community by a teacher, ‘the problem is they just don’t want to learn’. Now, I have never met a child let alone another person that does not want to learn. When I met with that group of children aged between 11 - 15yrs old, not one of them could recite the full alphabet. So i tasked myself with that goal. I pulled together 26 cans of empty baked beans and a sling shot for each of the boys, and I wrote the alphabet on the cans. Over the course of three days the boys could recite the alphabet both forwards and backwards, could spell each others names and could spell the states of Australia. When these boys engaged back in school their sense of pride, self worth and self motivation was unrecognisable. The teacher had to refute her own words, and she could do nothing but smile.

As an Indigenous Australian there is every opportunity to succeed in whatever it is you dare to dream, but it must start with the basic human right to read. GenerationOne supports and celebrates Indigenous Literacy Day because, like so many other organisations, we know being able to read and write will go a long way to ending Indigenous disadvantage. 

On Indigneous Literacy Day, please support some of the many organisations who are working with our communities to ensure every child and adult has the right and the ability to read. 

Indigenous Literacy Foundation 

Brotherhood of St Laurence HIPPY program (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters)

Australian Indigneous Literacy Foundation

Indigenous Reading Project

Cathy Freeman Foundation

Ian Thorpe Fountain for Youth




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