Ngunnawal Lecture 2017 "Collaborating with Children on Country to Improve Literacy" - Dr Anita Heiss (19 Sep 2017)
Only a quarter of Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas are at or above national minimum reading standards, compared to 91 per cent for non-Indigenous students, according to the 2016 National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).
The key to self-determination is the ability to make life decisions for oneself. To do that in Australia you must be literate in the English language. As an author Dr Anita Heiss believes it is her responsibility to assist in the creation of resources that encourage Aboriginal people to read, often in a language that is not their first. In short she says, “It’s not rocket science – Aboriginal kids need to see themselves on the pages of books if we are to foster an interest in reading, especially in settings where books have not be part of the home environment. What better way to nurture a love of reading while improving literacy than by including children in the process of creating literature.”
This seminar focussed on a project Dr Heiss has collaborated on with artist Leecee Carmichael and the Year 6 students at Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School. Among many outcomes, the students produced the picture book Apmere Athyenhe Ltyentye Apurte (our home Santa Teresa). Published by Gilimbaa, this project demonstrates not only success in community outreach and engagement in bringing children into the creative process of storytelling, but the capacity of skills development for young people in book production.
Dr Anita Heiss UC CIRI/FAD Research Fellow (Writing and Indigenous Studies)
Anita Heiss is the author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women's fiction, poetry, social commentary and travel articles. She is a regular guest at writers' festivals and travels internationally performing her work and lecturing on Aboriginal literature. She is a Lifetime Ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW. Anita is an Advocate for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and an Ambassador of Worawa Aboriginal College. Anita is a UC CIRI/FAD Postdoctoral Fellow (Writing and Indigenous Studies) and an Adjunct Professor, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology, Sydney.
Anita also divides her time between writing, public speaking, MCing, managing the Epic Good Foundation and being a 'creative disruptor'. Anita was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards and the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards and is a Board Member of the State Library of Queensland. She currently lives in Brisbane.
Anita's latest book is Our Race for Reconciliation and she ran her first full marathon in July raising awareness and cash for the ILF.