More than 300 students from across the country gathered at the Sydney Opera House today to celebrate the launch of Indigenous Literacy Day.
By
Natalie Ahmat

Source:
NITV News
4 Sep 2013 - 4:30 PM  UPDATED 4 Sep 2013 - 6:48 PM

More than 300 students from across the country gathered at the Sydney Opera House today to celebrate the launch of Indigenous Literacy Day.

The students shared their stories amongst each other and took part to the event by swapping books.

For one group of kids from a remote community on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, it was a chance to share their stories of life on Spinifex country.

Their book, "How does my garden grow?" is just one of the projects supported by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, an organisation dedicated to improving reading and writing in remote communities.

“Yeah the community is a small, remote community in Western Australia and some say is the most isolated.  We're 660 kilometres east of Kalgoorlie, and our closest community in South Australia is 350 kilometres away, so she's fairly isolated,” says school principal Charlie Klein.

Author Anita Heiss says Indigenous Literacy Day is contributing towards efforts to close the gap of disadvantage between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“There's a huge gap that still exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people in this country, and their capacity to be literate in the English language. Since 2007, we've had a national Indigenous Literacy Day and today there are events all around the country, celebrating the joy of reading, but also raising awareness in terms of the inequity, the inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people,” says Ms Heiss.

One of the highlights of the day is the Great Book Swap, where students from 18 Sydney schools are encouraged to exchange one great read for another.

“Part of that process, even in schools where there's no Indigenous children, is having younger Australians talk about why books are important to them, what they love about books, and also making them understand that not all Australian children are as lucky as they are,” says Ms Heiss.

Bookshops are also lending their support by donating a percentage of today's sales to the Foundation, which has already sent more than 100,000 books to over 230 remote communities.