Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Indigenous Literacy Day 2012… I’m grateful…

Archie Roach - pic by Matt Deller

Last Wednesday marked the sixth national Indigenous Literacy Dayand what a moment in time it was. Right across the country, events were being held in schools, libraries, galleries, work places, even at the Sydney Opera House – with the aim of raising awareness and funds to put books into the hands of some of our most disadvantaged Australians. I’m proud to be an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador and I was in Melbourne to celebrate. 

Here are just some of my gratefuls:

I’m grateful for the overwhelming groundswell of support the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (and our main fundraising day each September) has generated over the past few years, culminating in around 20,000 school students alone participating in Great BookSwaps  across the country last week.

The biggest was at the Sydney Opera House where more than 200 students from 12 Sydney schools gathered in the sunny Concert Hall Northern Foyer with ILF Patron Thérèse Rein. Ambassador Michael O’Loughlin urged the kids to consider what their lives would be like without reading – without newspapers, books and even text messages and Facebook. The Darlington Dance group performed and Arndell Anglican College choir sang Bad Swimtime (listen to your mama) a song by Michael Rohanek inspired by the ILF Book The Naked Boy and the Crocodile.  The event finished with a Great Book Swap and the students swarmed down the purple stairs to gather around the table and pick a new book.


FUNDRAISING: Of course the main aim of ILD is to raise funds to get appropriate books into remote Indigenous communities. Before the day kicked off, we had already raised $340,000 this year, and in recent years we’ve managed to place over 85,000 books into 230 communities. We are still fundraising and events are happening.  We’ve got a National Library of Australia event with Boori Pryor on September 15 and the One Word One Day auction in Sydney on September 25.  

Caroline Martin - pic by Matt Deller


 My ILD was spent at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the Melbourne Museum, where the Wheeler Centre, the Victorian Premier's Department and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation had coordinated an ILF event that celebrated the day as well as the announcement of the Victorian Premiers Literary Award for IndigenousWriting,  
for which I had been shortlisted, and as luck would have it, won! That was as good as the ILF trending on Twitter just a few hours earlier! :)

For that event and award I was grateful for the generous welcome to country by Caroline Martin (pictured above) who is Manager of Bunjilaka and Boon Wurrung Traditional Owner of Melbourne. I’m also grateful that while there were amazing and exciting events happening all around the country, as noted above, we were the only ones that had the one-and-only Archie Roach performing live for us! How cool was that? 

Nicole Watson, moi, Archie Roach and Jeanine Leane - pic by Matt Deller
In terms of the award, I was humbled to be shortlisted alongside my friends and writing peers Nicole Watson, who’s novel The Boundary I believe should be made into a telly movie! Also nominat3ed was my Wiradjuri sista Jeanine Leanne for her work PurpleThreads that carried me back to Wiradjuri country when I read it lying on Maroubra Beach.

 Kaz Cooke, Bruce Pascoe and Daniel Browning (judges) - pic by Matt Deller

I’d like to acknowledge the Premier’s Department and the judges, pictured with us all above, and I’d especially like to share my gratitude for local friends who came along that day, deadly actor Pauline Whyman and AMNESTY International staffer (and last year’s Deadly date) Bryan Andy - both pictured with me below. Moments like that are made extra special because of the people you share them with.

Pauline Whyman and Bryan Andy - the Bunjilaka Bookends!


SBS TV ran a piece on Indigenous Literacy Day. You can see it here.

For more information on what happened on Indigenous Literacy Day and the support you can continue to give, please visit our snazzy new website!

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