• Indigenous Literacy Foundation helps children in remote communities with reading and writing (Prudence Upton)
As many Aboriginal students fail to meet the National Minimum Standards in literacy and numeracy, an Indigenous foundation strives to make change. And this week, celebrating the Sir Douglas Nicholls Round, it's with the help of some deadly celebs.
By
Sophie Verass

25 May 2016 - 12:04 PM  UPDATED 25 May 2016 - 12:04 PM

Sir Douglas Nicholls is a man who kicked goals both on the AFL field and in community development and politics. As he gained popularity with his extraordinary athletic ability and later in life, became a social worker for Indigenous people which saw him initiate NAIDOC week. 

Epic Good is using this weeks’ Sir Douglas Nicholls Round as a way of supporting Indigenous literacy across Australia. The Foundation is hosting a massive fundraiser event called KICK ON for LITERACY in Brisbane on May 27 with the help of notable Indigenous talent such as actors Aaron Fa’aoso and Steven Oliver, professional didge musician William Barton and AFL stars, Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin.

In 2014 over 65 per cent of Indigenous students in very remote areas did not meet or exceed the national minimal standard for Year 7 reading.

Best-selling author, Manager of the Epic Good Foundation and Lifetime Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, Dr Anita Heiss aims to change these stats. KICK ON is a collaborative partnership between Epic Good and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, where a night of entertainment including live Indigenous music and a charity auction selling valuable items such as, Troy Cassar-Daley’s guitar, a limited edition hand-painted Gilimbaa football and more, donated by Indigenous celebrities.

All the proceeds will fund the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s three core programs;

  • Book Supply: literary resources delivered to remote communities
  • Book Buzz: supplies culturally appropriate and first language translation material
  • Community Literacy Projects: Australian authors work with students to publish books in English and first languages

Research shows that Indigenous children living in remote areas are being greatly out-performed by children living in urban locations. The most recent Australian Government’s Closing the Gap reports revealed that, in 2014 over 65 per cent of Indigenous students in very remote areas did not meet or exceed the national minimal standard for Year 7 reading and statistically, there has been no significant improvement since 2008.

With only 24 per cent of remote communities schools offering classes up to Year 12 and 29 per cent of remote with schools that goes up to Year 10, many Indigenous children have limited opportunities to develop reading, writing and numeracy skills.

Dr Heiss told NITV that in her experience, when the public become aware of the alarming rates of Indigenous literacy, they are passionate about getting involved.

“When the general population are made aware of things like the work that the Indigenous Literacy Foundation does, many people want to get involved and be a part of making the necessary change.”

“Some times that simply means attending an event like KICK ON for LITERACY. And this particular event is unique, as it will inspire our young people who love their footy, but need the resources and skills to experience how reading will open a lifetime of opportunities for them.”

A major prize in the charity auction is naming rights to a character in Dr Anita Heiss’ next novel, which is in the process of being researched.

“The book will be set in Sydney in 2000, focusing on themes of friendship, fitness and Reconciliation,” she explains.

“The highest bidder provide a name or even nickname, but won’t find out what their character is, an athlete, a brainiac or even the trope bully, unless the book is released.”