What started as a Christmas raffle for Department of Human Services staff member Dale Jackson has turned into a passionate cause to improve the literacy rates of Indigenous Australians.
World Book Day, Monday 23 April, is a time to celebrate and promote the importance of reading, but not everyone has this opportunity.
Dale, who works in the Brisbane Medicare team, has been raising funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, a charity addressing the poor literacy rates in remote communities through gifting new books to communities that need them, and publishing community stories, many in first languages.
So far Dale has raised more than $1200 from her Medicare colleagues with hopes to expand her efforts to other areas of the organisation, including Centrelink and Child Support.
According to the 2017 NAPLAN Report, only 34% per cent of Year 5 Indigenous students in very remote areas meet the minimum standard for reading, which struck a chord with Dale and inspired her to make a difference.
“I was looking to raise money for a charity over Christmas when I came across the foundation,” Dale said.
“After doing some research I was inspired by the work that they do and decided I wanted to do something more long-term.
“The ability to read and write can have a significant impact on someone’s life, particularly from a young age. It is empowering to be able to read.
“I had the opportunity to meet with some young people who had written a book, Two Ways Strong: Jaz’s Story that the foundation had published under one of its three core programs – ‘Community Literacy Projects’.
“They came from remote areas of Queensland such as the Torres Strait and Palm Island, but were now completing their education at a boarding school in Toowoomba.
“It’s a big challenge to be away from your home and culture, and this was the premise of the book as they were able to draw on their own experiences.”
CEO of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, Karen Williams, said she appreciated the support of generous fundraisers.
“Imagine not being able to read a road sign or a medical document,” Karen said.
“Being able to read is a basic human right and opens doors to a world of choice and opportunity.
“Our vision is equity of opportunity, which we deliver through our programs that focus on high-quality resources, early literacy, community stories and first languages.
“We do not receive government funding so we could not achieve what we do without the support of people like Dale Jackson.”
Dale and her colleagues are showing no sign of stopping ahead of the foundation’s Great Book Swap on 5 September, which coincides with Indigenous Literacy Day.
- For more information about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation or to hold a Great Book Swap, visit ilf.org.au
- Information about our support for Indigenous Australians is available at humanservices.gov.au/indigenous