Indigenous Literacy Day, held on 2 September, aims to raise funds to improve literacy levels and opportunities provided to First Nations people all over Australia, particularly in rural and remote areas. The virtual event with keynote speakers, performers and interactions with remote communities is here.
With this in mind, how are we placed to make a difference in the community legal sector, beyond a morning tea or fundraiser? What else can we do?
Literacy for Life did a survey that showed that 60 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have only very basic levels of literacy and can often struggle to read and comprehend a sentence.
The critical factor here, is remembering the experiences of our First Nations people through the education system are often plagued with disadvantage and shame and a lack of opportunity.
- We need to remember this when handing our clients their bail conditions, their DVO orders, the clients right charter.
- We need to remember this when asking them to sign documents or referring them online with a throw away comment such as ‘all the information is on our website’.
- We need to remember that some of our clients speak English as a second or third language, despite being raised in Australia.
- And we need to remember to take all of these things into account, and respectfully consider the First Nations person in front of us.
Do not assume because the person in front of you is Aboriginal, it means they cannot read and write. On the opposite side of the same coin, do not assume they can read AND comprehend literacy. Do not assume anything.
Find ways of respectfully asking whether our clients might need assistance, explain documents thoroughly to everyone, not just First Nations people. We often deal in crisis, people who are facing some of the most difficult times of our lives, a little bit of due diligence can go a long way.