• Photo supplied by Indigenous Language Foundation, courtesy of the Australian Women’s Weekly December Issue. (Photo courtesy of The Australian Women's Weekly December issue via Indigenous Literacy Foundation)Source: Photo courtesy of The Australian Women's Weekly December issue via Indigenous Literacy Foundation
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation has thanked all those throughout Australia who have helped the charity to raise a record-breaking $1.2 million towards closing the literacy gap in remote communities.
By
Yasmin Noone

18 Dec 2015 - 12:32 PM  UPDATED 22 Dec 2015 - 10:35 AM

More money was donated towards the Indigenous Literacy Foundation in 2015 than ever before, with a record amount of $1.2 million raised for the charity, which delivers books to remote communities throughout Australia in the bid to close the literacy gap.

Foundation program manager Tina Raye thanked the many who donated to the organisation so generously this year, labeling the total amount of funds collected over the year "incredible".

"Last year, we hit the million mark so to have gone $200,000 over that total in 2015 is wonderful," said Ms Raye.

"More money means we can do more. Our targets for 2016 will be so much greater.

"It also means that people are recognising what we are doing here and the great value of books, especially in some areas of Australia where there are no books."

"More money means we can do more. Our targets for 2016 will be so much greater."

Ms Raye encouraged anyone wanting to give to a cause this Christmas to consider donating towards the literacy of children in remote communities via the foundation.

She said although the organisation takes not take second-hand books, it does accept monetary donations, which will be used to purchase cultural-specific books to suit the identified requirements of remote communities in need throughout 2016.

"You can also promote us by holding a fundraising event.

"It's all about getting the message about literacy out there and celebrating books in the process."

2015: a proactive year in closing literacy gaps

In 2015, the foundation distributed 30,000 new books to babies, children and adults in remote communities throughout Australia.

"More than 250 remote communities have access to books, which they potentially haven't had before," said Ms Raye.

The foundation was also able to publish and launch six books written by school kids, living in remote communities throughout the year.

One of the key 2015 highlights, Ms Raye said, was publishing and then launching 'No way Yirrikipayi': a children's book written in English and Tiwi by people living on the Tiwi Islands, about a hungry crocodile who is looking for food.

"More than 250 remote communities have access to books, which they potentially haven't had before."

The book was officially launched on Indigenous Literacy Day at the Sydney Opera House in and then in the community in November.

Ms Raye recalled how special the Opera House launch was for the children participating.

"They had to present their book to over 350 people in the Opera House. For some of the kids, that’s just as many people as there is in their home-town. And for some, it was also their first time to the Opera House."

Finally, Ms Raye added, who could forget the initiative that saw nine female secondary students from the Tiwi Islands get to visit Sydney to work on publishing their own books in November.

Not only did the students get to meet literary creatives and be inspired to continue to write, they got to experience the sites of Sydney and spend time with the singing and acting superstar, Jessica Mauboy.

"It was a surprise. I remember that one of the girls that morning was saying 'Jessica lives in Sydney. Maybe we will bump into her'. And then they did."

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Other 2015 highlights included running writing workshops with children in remote communities and the achievements of the 'Book Buzz' literacy program, which aims to engage families with young children to read and share stories.

"These kids in remote communities don't have the same opportunities that kids in other part of the country have. They are wonderfully skilled in culture and language but when it comes to English literacy skills, they don't have the same access to books and libraries [as city kids].

"So you just can't measure the impact that publishing a book or giving a book to someone in a remote community has as they carry much greater outcomes than you can ever imagine."

RELATED STORY:
Young Tiwi Island authors tell their stories on Indigenous Literacy Day
On this National Indigenous Literacy Day, students from a Northern Territory community travelled to Sydney for the first time, with an amazing story to tell. Up to 80 percent of Indigenous children in remote areas are under the minimum standard for reading. But these kids are bucking the trend becoming authors themselves. NITV News reporter Brianna Roberts reports.