On Wednesday, 4 March, six boys from Years 7 and 8 were invited to attend a book launch by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation at the State Library. Prior to attending this event, I did not know much about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, just what Ms Ragen had told us – that the Indigenous Literacy Foundation provides books for Indigenous children in remote communities. Without the support from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, the children living in some remote communities would not receive any new books. And without the books, it is difficult for the children to learn to love reading which means the children’s literacy levels do not improve at the same rate as ours.
The book launch of The Legends of Moonie Jarl, the 50th anniversary edition was very special, as the Indigenous Literacy Foundation had worked with Butchulla Elder, Glen Miller to ensure Australia’s first Aboriginal children’s book did not go out of print. Glen Miller is the son of the illustrator, Olga Miller, and nephew of the author, Wilf Reeves.
At the book launch, both Glen Miller and the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce, the new Patron of the Indigenous literacy Foundation – although you might know her as Australia’s previous Governor General – spoke about the significance of The Legends of Moonie Jarl, telling us that stories inform who we are, our culture and histories.
We were reminded that many traditional cultures continue to pass on knowledge through storytelling. For the tribal people, the special storyteller is called Moonie Jarl. In the 1960s, Moonie Jarl acknowledged that their stories belonged to all Australian children and shared them beyond the tribes.
And in 1964, The Legends of Moonie Jarl, the first Australian Aboriginal children’s book, was published. It was also the first Aboriginal children’s book in schools at that time.
I really enjoyed this event because I met many interesting people and I learnt how the work of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation can make a big difference to those living in remote communities.
Here is a short video about the work of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
“Can you imagine not being able to read a newspaper, a road sign or directions on a bottle of medication?” (ILF website) Unfortunately, this is a reality faced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
And it’s not fair. Just because you are born in a remote location, this should not mean you cannot access books at home or in the local library.
This is one of the reasons why the Year 8 Service Committee plans to raise funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation this semester. We want to help children across Australia to have the same opportunities when it comes to reading and writing. We take for granted the opportunity to learn to read and write, and most of us would not have thought about how difficult life would be if we couldn’t read a newspaper, a road sign or directions on a bottle of medication.
Please help us to support the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and make a difference in the lives of Indigenous children in remote communities.