McEwen grant helps achieve greater literacy

There’s a great literacy program now running in the Goulburn Valley, thanks to a grant from the McEwen Foundation via FRRR.

The Aboriginal Literacy Foundation received $7,500, enabling it to provide a targeted literacy support service to Indigenous children attending schools in the Goulburn Valley region in Northern Victoria.

Within this region, the major centres of Echuca and Shepparton have a relatively high Aboriginal population, with Shepparton having the highest Indigenous population in Victoria, outside of the Melbourne metropolitan area.

Unfortunately, Aboriginal children in these centres are substantially below national literacy and numeracy benchmarks. This isn’t surprising given the high level of Indigenous children leaving school early – 53% leave before they have finished Year 8.  The majority of them end up unemployed, and this contributes significantly to social problems within the community such as drinking, damage to property and theft.

The Aboriginal Literacy Foundation was founded in 2003 in response to the significant social issues in Aboriginal communities.  Caught in a self-perpetuating cycle of abuse, poverty and unemployment, the ALF believes that Indigenous youth can break this cycle through literacy education.  ALF acknowledges the direct correlation between low literacy levels and unemployment, anti-social behaviour and crime with Indigenous young people. 

Their professional and innovative literacy services provide direct assistance to young Aboriginals and provide them with encouragement and hope for the future.  The range of programs the ALF provide include a weekly tutoring service, literacy camps, literacy support services, as well as raising awareness and advocating for the literacy needs of Indigenous people.

With the funding received from the McEwen Foundation, the ALF was able to provide a targeted program aimed at encouraging Aboriginal children to remain engaged in education, thereby reducing anti-social and criminal behaviour, to enable long term improvement in health and wellbeing and life expectancy.

Every week, 13 children received one-on-one literacy learning support using a range of culturally relevant literacy resources, and 28 children from across the Goulburn Valley region attended a Literacy and Heritage Camp.  Literacy Evaluation is also being conducted by way of regular testing and evaluation to provide a base to measure individual progress and ongoing literacy needs within the community.

It is hoped that the literary support service provided by ALF will enable Indigenous youth to participate in the community, secure employment and address health and wellbeing needs so that they can impact the next generation and build an understanding of the importance of education to long term life outcomes.

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