Libraries Without Borders and the Australian public library network have implemented the Ideas Box in the Torres Strait in order to enable access to education and information for underserved Aboriginal communities.
When compared with mainstream Australia, many aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities are very remote and often have limited access to services, opportunities, and facilities considered standard for much of the country. These two groups represent 2.5% of the population, and have historically been targeted by discrimination and attempts to assimilate the groups into mainstream culture. These interferences have not benefited the populations: 30% of Aboriginal adults lack basic literacy skills, and in 2009, the gap in the unemployment rate between aboriginal and non-aboriginals in Australia was 12.6%. Furthermore, the groups are facing a threat of losing cultural diversity. Only 60 of the once 250 plus linguistic traditions remain alive today.
For over a decade, Australian State libraries have developed community programs to support and evaluate literacy, and strengthen cultural programs in partnership with local councils and Aboriginal communities of the Torres Strait Islands. LWB supports these efforts by offering libraries with tools that allow them to reach out and get closer to these communities. As a result, we contribute to improving education and to developing cultural and intergenerational exchange of Aboriginal and Islander communities.
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