indigenous literacy day

As a Chinese-Australian, growing up in Perth’s outer suburbs, Steph was privileged to gain an excellent education and a sufficient reading level, that she has used to collect degrees to hang around her neck. Not all Australians have that same advantage, however, and Indigenous Australians are amongst the least able to access education and literacy resources.

The first Wednesday of September is Indigenous Literacy Day, and today is that Wednesday. Last year, Steph and Liz Got Caught Reading (wow, based on those photos, it sure was warmer this time last year!), but this year we are both at work so probably shouldn’t publically admit to being reading right now. But you can!

You can find out all about Indigenous literacy at the Indigenous Literacy Foundation webpage, but here are some key facts:

  • Indigenous homes, particularly those in remote communities, have fewer books, computers and other educational resources than non-Indigenous homes. All of these factors are linked to children’s achievements at school and in the development of English literacy skills. (Bortoli and Cresswell, 2004)
  • The development of English literacy skills is important for the life opportunities of Indigenous children and youth. Literacy provides them with ‘the necessary skills to interact within mainstream society and avail themselves of the broadest range of civic, social, educational and employment possibilities’. (Mellor and Corrigan, 2004)
  • The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students emerges early. Non-Indigenous students far out-perform Indigenous students in benchmark tests for reading, writing and numeracy in Year 3 and Year 5. By Year 7, the gap has widened, particularly for numeracy. (DEET NT 2006)
  • By the age of 15, more than one-third of Australia’s Indigenous students ‘do not have the adequate skills and knowledge in reading literacy to meet real-life challenges and may well be disadvantaged in their lives beyond school’. (PISA cited in Bortoli and Cresswell, 2004, page 11).

That is bullshit, right? Help close the gap by supporting the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and Indigenous Literacy Day. There are lots of events across the country, many bookstores are donating a percentage of takings for the day to the ILF, and if you donate you’ll not only be helping our country and Indigenous Australians but also you’ll probably look more attractive.*

Donate early, donate often. No Award will love you for it. 

Track ILD events on the hashtag #ILD14


Quick Link Roundup

The always excellent Luke Pearson at Eureka Street: Making Indigenous Literacy Day Obsolete

Carla McGrath, this week’s IndigenousX tweeter: Indigenous excellence is personal, it’s individual, and it’s about education

At the Wheeler Centre: It’s Indigenous Literacy Day Tomorrow, a good summary post

At the SMH: Tiwi Islands students take part in writing workshop for Indigenous Literacy Day



*not guaranteed by NA.


indigenous literacy day and getting caught reading

Today is Indigenous Literacy Day! This is great because it means we are talking about Indigenous Literacy! This is bad because Australia, it means we still need to talk about Indigenous Literacy.

There is a huge gap in English literacy rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia. A disgustingly enormous, we should feel ashamed of ourselves gap. By year 3, the gap in reading, writing and numeracy is already significant, and by the age of 15, “more than one-third of Australia’s Indigenous students ‘do not have the adequate skills and knowledge in reading literacy to meet real-life challenges and may well be disadvantaged in their lives beyond school’.” MORE THAN ONE THIRD. That is so uncool I cannot even. But Indigenous Australians should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and Australia is totally not racist, amirite?

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation works to alleviate this disadvantage for Indigenous Australians, and Indigenous Literacy Day (every September 4) is one of the ways it gathers public support. So far in 2013, $360 000 has been donated, with 100 000 books supplied in 230 remote communities. But through Indigenous Literacy Day, we can help increase those numbers! And through the rest of the year too.

You can directly make a donation to ILF, and you can also get caught reading!  Today Liz and I are making a donation to the Indigenous Literacy Fund and we have been caught reading Speaking from the Heart (by Sally Morgan, Tjalaminu Mia and Blaze Kwaymullina), and To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.

liz getting caught reading steph getting caught reading

A number of bookstores around the country are donating a percentage of all sales today to the ILF, so if you’re looking for a new book buy it from one of them today! (My book today will be purchased from Readings Carlton, who are donating 5% of all book sales today)

There is also a great blog post up at the Reconciliation Australia blog if you’d like some more info and stats and things.