Improving education and developing exchanges for aboriginal communities

The aboriginal communities of the Torres Strait Islands make up 2.5% of the population of Australia. Their history is marked by discrimination and attempts at forced integration into mainstream culture. Today, these communities still have limited access to what are considered normal services and opportunities.. As a result, 30% of Aboriginal adults are illiterate.. These communities are also more affected by unemployment. In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are facing a loss of cultural diversity, including the disappearance of linguistic traditions.

For many years, in partnership with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community councils, Australian state libraries have been developing community-based programs to support and assess literacy and to strengthen cultural programs.  

Since 2015, LWB has been supporting these efforts by providing libraries with tools to reach these communities. Two Ideas Box kit programs are established in the country thanks to the partnership among  LWB, the Queensland and Western Australia State Libraries, and local councils. In this way, LWB is helping to improve education and develop cultural and intergenerational exchanges in Aboriginal and island communities. The two Ideas Box kits support literacy activities and reinforce the community’s ability to transmit its cultural  heritage. They are popular with children during extracurricular time, especially the  board games, tablets, and film screenings.

An Ideas Box to support an isolated community

In June 2019, the state library of New South Wales sought out our expertise to install an Ideas Box in Wilcannia, a small isolated community near Broken Hill, west of Sydney. In this isolated village of 600 residents, there are many structural problems in the daily life: poverty, high school drop-out rates, addiction, and unemployment. Soon to be installed at the heart of the village, this Ideas Box will permit, in strict collaboration with several local actors, a mitigation of these problems, in the absence of a library, serving as a point of access to information, education, and culture. Our goal? To reinforce the professional and educational skills of the population, as well as its well-being, and to reduce the great disparities in resources among libraries across the territory, especially between the East and West of Australia.