Indigenous Literacy Foundation
What is the Indigenous Literacy Foundation?
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) is dedicated to improving literacy outcomes for Indigenous children in remote Communities across Australia. The organisation recognises the value of supporting Communities to preserve and revitalise their First Languages for cultural integrity, learning, identity, improved wellbeing and autonomy. ILF’s community-led approach responds to requests from remote Communities for culturally relevant books, resources and programs to support Communities to create and publish stories in languages of their choice.
Access to reading material is limited in remote Communities due to the lack of infrastructure such as libraries or bookstores, which affects the literacy outcomes of Indigenous children. ILF programs focus on ensuring access to quality resources, including books in First Languages, publishing Community stories and empowering Communities and families to lead the entire process.
ILF defines literacy as a navigation skill that provides a fundamental step of building context, comprehension and understanding, whether it is written, visual or auditory. Literacy is a foundational skill that helps children to navigate the world around them, making it a fundamental human right.
ILF has achieved significant milestones since its inception in 2011, working with over 400 remote communities, gifting 752,866 books, implementing its early literacy program Book Buzz with 90 remote playgroups and publishing 109 books reflecting 31 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.
Gifting books to Communities that need them the most
Access to books in remote Communities is challenging, as there are often no libraries or bookstores. ILF’s Book Supply program meets this need by providing new, culturally relevant books to remote Communities across Australia. Schools, Community, health, and women’s centres working in remote Communities, can order books to distribute to children and families.
Book Supply packs are carefully selected for different age groups and 45-50% of books in the Book Supply packs feature Indigenous authors and illustrators.
Promoting early literacy, with a focus on First Language
Our Book Buzz program aims to develop familiarity and engagement with books for children under five through a daily dedicated Story Time session, so children can develop critical pre-literacy skills. Our team also provides the funding for many remote Communities to translate popular books into First Languages, allowing children to start their literacy journey with books in languages spoken in their homes.
Book Buzz supports remote playgroups and provides board books, picture books, and touch and feel books, some in English, some in English with Aboriginal Language translations, and others printed in a First Language.
Through the Book Buzz program, children learn to navigate books; how to hold them, how to move from the start to the end following the story, and to think about what might happen next. It is a vital learning stage in preparing children for school.
Community Publishing Projects
Publishing books written by Community
The Los Pintos Declaration, the roadmap for UNESCO’s Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032, emphasises Indigenous peoples’ rights to freedom of expression, to an education in their mother tongue, and to participate in public life using their languages, as prerequisites for survival of Indigenous languages.
ILF works to meet the wishes of remote Communities across Australia, to assist with the publishing of books created by Community - many in First Languages - as well as to fund the development of digital, audio, or other learning resources and workshops.
It is important that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can see themselves, their culture and languages reflected in the books they read. Having books that share local stories in First Languages, preserves and maintains Indigenous languages and culture, as well as builds pride, identity and strengthens a sense of belonging, confidence and wellbeing. These books are highly desired because they often share a local story that a Community is familiar with and in a language they speak at home.
How can you support ILF?
ILF receive no government funding and relies solely on the generosity of supporters and sponsors. Every $10 donation puts a book into the hands of a child living in remote Australia, making a significant impact on their literacy journey. You can also support us by purchasing a book! ILF sell a range of beautiful children’s books via their shop: shop.ilf.org.au
Learn more: ilf.org.au
Originally published in Connected Caregiving Autumn 2023