Remote reading

aboriginal literacy foundation
A new project is improving literacy for Indigenous children in some of the most remote parts of Australia.

The Aboriginal Literacy Foundation’s (ALF) Northern Australian Books and Library project aims to support more than 120 rural schools in Northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and North Western Australia. 

A recent report from Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre revealed the alarming gap in educational outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.

An Indigenous child is 40 percent less likely to finish high school and 60 percent less likely to attend university compared to a non-Indigenous child.

The Northern Territory has the widest gap in primary and secondary school attendance rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

Only 35 percent of Indigenous children in the Northern Territory will go on to study at university.

The Northern Australian Books and Library project launched in March this year and has so far reached 54 schools in remote areas in the Northern Territory.

Transporting books can be difficult as some of the schools are inaccessible by road for five months of the year. Other schools struggle under repeated vandalism attacks, or have as few as 16 books in their library.

ALF sends boxes of books to participating schools and awards grants of up to $500 to rebuild library facilities. Kormilda College, a Uniting Church school in Darwin, was one of the schools that received a box of books and a library grant.

ALF plans to extend the project to schools in remote Queensland and Western Australia in 2018.

Another initiative from ALF is its Healthy Living series. This is a collection of early reading books written and designed for young Aboriginal children.

Set in the Australian outback, the books feature Aboriginal characters who explore stories related to healthy and happy lifestyles. Each book features brightly-coloured illustrations from renowned Indigenous artist Bibi Barba.

More than 20,000 copies of Healthy Living books have been distributed throughout Australia. UnitingCare Community agencies in Queensland recently received several boxes, which they will use for their programs.

To find out more about Aboriginal Literacy Foundation, visit

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