This article was originally published on the Indigenous Literacy Foundation website, republished with permission.
Heidi Nash-Smith, Partner at Wotton + Kearney, believes that corporate Australia can celebrate First Nations stories and cultures by engaging with First Nations literature. Showcasing the important work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors and illustrators can help to inspire curiosity, create discussion, and encourage your staff to learn more about cultures, languages and histories.
However, starting this journey can be difficult. That is why the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) has curated a bookshelf featuring 18 titles from some of Australia’s best, award-winning contemporary First Nations authors, aptly titled the Reading Opens Doors Library.
Not only does this Library encourage your staff to read First Nations stories, it also supports the work of the ILF in remote Indigenous Communities. The ILF works to provide books and literacy resources where supply is often scarce, and focuses on publishing books in First Languages by and for First Nations remote Communities. In it’s lifetime, the ILF has delivered over 750,000 books through the Book Supply program, supported 100 playgroups through Book Buzz, and published 109 books in 31 First Languages.
The ILF is the charity of the Australian Book Industry and is funded through donations and grants from individuals and corporate supporters. It does not receive any government funding.
Wotton + Kearney is Australasia’s largest insurance and dispute resolution firm. Pivotal to their work is their Community Footprint Program where they partner with charities to create meaningful change. Through this program, Wotton + Kearney has embarked on a three-year partnership with ILF to provide staff with the opportunity to advocate and fundraise for ILF and support literacy in First Nations Communities.
When Heidi first heard about ILF’s Reading Opens Doors Library, it felt like a no-brainer.
“The Library provides a unique opportunity to engage our staff with ILF’s work. It sparks interest in First Nations authors and stories and provides a platform for us to talk about the work ILF is doing in remote Communities. It is a really tangible way for us to demonstrate our support of ILF.”
Heidi believes that the Library has undeniably sparked conversations in their workplace. They even feature the books in a monthly newsletter through a book review and an update on some of ILF’s work.
This Library has helped the staff at Wotton + Kearney learn about the vast diversity of experiences that First Nations Australians have. This can enable your workplace to begin or continue conversations about First Nations histories and stories.
The Library features 18 titles which includes books for children, young adults, as well as celebrated adult titles. Some of the titles include Bruce Pascoe's Young Dark Emu A truer History, Ash Barty’s My Dream Time and Nardi Simpson’s Song of the Crocodile, and many, many more.
Heidi says that the variety is one of the things she loves most about the Library.
“The Library has such a great variety of books and topics from fiction to nonfiction, and books for both adults and children. This really encourages our people to delve in and find a book that appeals to them – and in doing so, learn more about First Nations authors and stories”.
Engaging in the Reading Opens Doors Library can also showcase your workplace’s support of Indigenous literacy. Having the Library physically in your office can allow staff to be constantly engaged with the work of the ILF. As Heidi explains, it has provided Wotton + Kearney with an ongoing conversation around ILF, so that Indigenous literacy is always present and represented. They are even moving the Library from the break rooms to the reception areas, so that visitors to the offices can also benefit from it.
“The Library provides a great opportunity for us to be advocates about ILF and ILF’s work. I think that is powerful,” Heidi explains.
In this way, Wotton + Kearney’s purchase of the Library enabled an embrace of First Nations literature, while supporting the ILF.
The books not only allow your staff to read renowned books by First Nations authors and illustrators. Engaging with First Nations literature gives a platform to people to share their stories, cultures, languages and histories with the rest of the world and be physically represented in workplaces.
The Wotton + Kearney team believe that this advocacy will feed through to the workplace, provide purpose, outcomes, and an ongoing tangible connection to the ILF.
To learn more about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) visit indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au