It might be NAIDOC Week next week, but it’s always a good week to shine a light on programs that support Indigenous excellence and improve educational outcomes for Indigenous students in remote communities. This week, School Stream is featuring three great initiatives which are doing crucial work. From sending science kits across the country to empowering remote and very remote communities on their literacy journey and sharing the best of First Nations writing, there is sure to be something here to inspire you.

Connect with your parent community using School Stream. Talk to one of our school communication experts or read on to learn about three great projects supporting Indigenous students.

Introducing Deadly Science – sending books and science equipment across Australia

Deadly Science is on a mission to provide science equipment, resources and early reading materials to every remote school in Australia. So far, they’ve sent 14,000 books and 500 telescopes and chemistry sets to over 112 under-resourced schools. 

Indigenous mentor, STEM champion and 2020 winner of NSW Australian of the Year award, Corey Tutt, is the dynamo behind Deadly Science. He was spurred into action after learning that one very remote school library had a total of 15 books for the entire school. Instead of closing his browser and moving on, Corey decided he had to do something.

“I packed up every single book I owned (and sent them off). And it’s grown from there.”

Initially, Corey worked a second job to support Deadly Science but now has a Go Fund Me campaign to cover the costs of books and postage. He also has the support of some of Australia’s leading scientists like Dr Karl, Professor Brian Cox and University of Sydney’s Physics Professor, Maryanne Large, whose time, energy and belief in the project has been ongoing since the early days. As for the future of Deadly Science? Corey is focusing on growing the initiative and looking at the big picture.

“I want to continue to grow Indigenous science because our history is so great. I know from personal experience that books can change lives, and these kids deserve nothing but the best. I also want to ensure Australia learns the real history of our people.”

Head to their website to learn more and follow them on Instagram to see kids from all over Australia embracing science and literacy, thanks to donations by Deadly Science. It’s the stuff education dreams are made of. 

Blackfulla Bookclub – A First Nations Thinking Platform

Blackfulla Bookclub is an online initiative by Merinda Dutton and Teela Reid. Described as a ‘First Nations thinking platform’, the project is active on Instagram, where the two founders share what they are reading and host virtual ‘In Conversation” events with First Nations authors. 

Blackfulla Bookclub features books for children and adults and is a great place to start if you are looking to expand your school or personal library with some great reads by First Nations writers. The page has amassed more than 28,000 followers since its launch in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, showing a real thirst for books written from a First Nations perspective. Writing for Indigenous X in the Guardian, the lawyers and book lovers said:

“Blackfulla Bookclub grew from our love of First Nations storytelling. As jarjums (kids) growing up in our communities, storytelling has always been an integral part of our lives and often happened around the campfire. Our stories enable healing, they aren’t always written in books. Our connection to storytelling is relational and intertwined to our sense of belonging to this time and place.

The power of storytelling has always connected us to our kinship, community and country. In our experience, the authority of our storytelling has shaped the way we interpret the world, imagine our collective future and understand our past.”

Their Instagram page is a veritable one-stop-shop and is worth a visit for anyone interested in First Nation writers and reviewers. An invaluable resource.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation – closing the literacy gap

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) is a national not-for-profit charity with a vision of equity of opportunity for remote Indigenous communities by providing access to culturally relevant books and, most importantly by assisting communities to create books in language.  To describe their outreach as ‘prolific’ is an understatement. Your school may be familiar with their fundraising work via the popular Great Book Swap which celebrates its tenth birthday this year. But there is a suite of other targeted programs running that collectively work to give access to books and reading.  The Book Supply arm of the program works at a community level by gifting culturally relevant books to remote and very remote communities where there are often few books and rarely any in community languages. So far, 500,000 books have been distributed to nearly 400 remote communities. The Book Buzz program is aimed at early literacy and supports playgroups in remote communities with books and learning materials such as puzzles, puppets and other resources to support children’s development and learning. This runs alongside a publishing initiative which publishes books written by community, in community languages. This year the program published its 100th book. Over 60% of books in this program are published in Indigenous languages while others are published in English with some words in an Indigenous language. Why is this important? Because it is well documented that learning to read in your first language creates a strong sense of belonging, enhances reading and helps maintain language. If all this wasn’t enough, this year they hosted their first ever virtual event to celebrate Indigenous Literacy Day, which amassed over 500,000 views.

Visit their social media pages or website to learn more about The Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s crucial work to empower remote and very remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities’ on their literacy journey.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our round up of these terrific projects.

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