Gunai woman Kirli Saunders is always looking for new ways of empowering the younger generations.
Her latest project aims to put more books into the hands of young people, whose lives have been affected by natural disasters.
84,000 First Nations people, a quarter of the NSW and Victorian Indigenous populations, were affected by drought and severe bushfires in 2019 and 2020. Some families are sill living in temporary homes and many have felt the economic impact especially hard.
After working with teachers living in drought and bushfire affected communities recently, Saunders says she wants to do what she can to help students, teachers and families who have struggled.
She's is currently running a go-fund me page to raise money for the Re(ad)generate program, with the money going towards purchasing and delivering the books to students in affected areas.
“I grew up not reading many Black writers and as a First Nations author, storyteller, poet, being able to support young people and being able to place stories into the classroom allows them to be what they can see,” she told NITV.
Kirli says growing up off country didn’t always allow her the connection to culture that she craved, so she’s always looked for ways to help First Nations children learn about their their traditional cultural practices and languages regardless of where they are.
“Caring for country, caring for community, sharing language, sharing culture means that it will continue. We’re 65,000 plus years young and I think we’ve got a long way to go in continuing those stories. Teaching our young people language means that they are strengthened in their identity and get to be bold and strong in their dreaming and the way they move around the world," says Saunders.
Saunders recently performed for thousands of primary school students at the Sydney Writer’s Festival, where she talked about the importance of caring for country and taught the students traditional Aboriginal words.
Her latest book, which took out a gong at last month's Australian Book Industry Awards, centres on eleven-year-old Aboriginal girl Bindi, on a mission to help the ailing environment on her Country following drought and fire events.