Page 44 - Print21 Magazine Jan-Feb 21
P. 44

                Essential Print
   the communities, listening to stories, encouraging participants to record their versions. They assist children and local community members to create images and illustrations for the books. Often the result is the first time anyone in the community has been able to read a book in their own language. One book, My Body, from the La Grange Community School in Bidyadanga,
a community south of Broome WA, was published last year in six different languages: Karajarri, Julwalinny, Mangala, Nyungamarta, Yulparitja and Aboriginal English. Two others from the same community, Fish Usmob Gettem and Colouredywun,
are in Aboriginal English, which is described as a widely spoken dialect. The children and families from the school and playgroups created the books in workshops, working with local language teacher, Maureen Yanawana, with assistance from ILF project members Alison Lester and Jane Godwin.
In 2019 books were also
published in Pitjantjatjara language from South Australian communities. Other first volumes are in Kalaw Kawaw Ya, a traditional language
of three islands in the Torres Strait, and a book in Dhanu, one of the Yolnu Matha languages in northeast Arnhem Land.
From a very basic start in 2011, when Williams admits the first
six books were produced in crude laminated formats, the publishing project has published dozens of books in Indigenous languages, written and illustrated by children, adults and elders. They range from board books for young children to graphic novels for teens. They are now all beautifully designed and professionally produced.
The buzz of reading
An integral part of the ILF’s outreach is Book Buzz, an innovative programme that engages the very youngest children in communities. It revolves on dedicated daily story time sessions where interaction with printed books can begin a lifetime engagement with literacy. Providing developmentally appropriate books and other literacy resources, it encourages parents and carers to introduce books to their babies and toddlers. Some of the books are in first languages.
“We work mainly through 1010 Printing in China... We’d love to do it in Australia, that would be wonderful but it’s an economic decision.” – Karen Williams, CEO
Press, print many of the books that
are part of the ILF’s Book Supply project, there are no printing industry sponsors of this vital print promotion. Most of the books published by the ILF in language are in print runs that start around 200 copies. With paperbacks the print runs are longer. There are also one or two commercial titles published every year that are sold in bookshops around the country, but communities remain the first priority.
“This year we’ve completed 16 books but we’ve another five or
six going off to the printer at the moment. Most are board books, or children’s picture books, but we also do paperbacks. Some of the print runs are more substantial.
“Our first priority and the reason we exist is for communities to tell stories in whatever language they want. Inevitably that is a small printing run, but when we’re working on a story and we see how beautiful it is, we’ll review and see if it meets the criteria to publish commercially. Pan Macmillan does our marketing and selling all pro bono,” said Williams.
Deep respect
A key part of the ILF’s success is the respectful way it approaches the communities. “When we work with remote communities, we’ve
a belief and a way of engagement shaped by deep respect and by listening to the community. We’re dealing with First Nation cultures that are sixty thousand years old. The knowledge systems are very complex and it’s not something we as non-Indigenous find easy to understand,” Williams said.
This year the foundation has reassessed its mission statement, moving away from the aim of lifting literacy rates in remote communities to empowering people to engage in a more meaningful way with reading. The aim is to assist both elders and children in their life journey by helping to develop literacy skills.
“Empowerment is a very high statement. How it works in practice is about imparting skills, gifting books, and ultimately ensuring that kids from the earliest age have books in their own language,” she said.
Clearly the ILF is on the side of history, its mission aligning with recognition of the value of first languages and the role of literacy in addressing Indigenous inequalities. It is time for the printing industry to get engaged in supporting this vital task. 21
     where the ILF is working with the Department of Education in the Northern Territory on the Families as First Teachers (FaFT) programme, as well as KindiLink, an initiative of the Western Australian government. Translated books now have a QR code that links to an audio recording on the ILF website. The idea is to help community members and children become more confident in reading
by being able to access the books not only in print but also in their own spoken language.
The board books are produced by long-term ILF sponsor, 1010 Printing, in China. The Foundation is hoping an Australian printing company will step up to fulfil the role in the future.
“1010 printing have been very generous; they’ve given us a sponsorship every year. We’d love to print our books in Australia, that would be wonderful but ultimately it’s an economic decision,” said Williams.
While local printers, such as Griffin 44   Print21 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021
Above: “I‘m extremely proud of how our team has so nimbly adapted to Covid-19 and remained as committed as ever to our vital work in remote Australia.”
  There are now 65 ILF Book Buzz sites around the country, predominantly in WA and NT

   42   43   44   45   46