Bringing the power of words to Indigenous Australia

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We believe all kids should be inspired to learn.

Poetry In Action has been busily discovering new horizons alongside Indigenous youth at Watarraka School in remote Central Australia!

Through the innovative Lilla project, named for the remote Lilla region located in the red desert dust of the Northern Territory, PIA’s Curly Fernandez has been guiding up to 22 Indigenous students aged 5-15 through an intensive literacy program of carefully designed games, art activities, reading and writing; towards mastering the techniques of public speaking, script reading, storytelling and theatre making.

2019 Artist line up
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Erica
ERICA LOVELL

Teacher, Actor, Writer & Activist 

Erica is an experienced musical theatre performer, acting & singing teacher. Erica is also part of Liquid Learning Team, with a focus on women in leadership positions.

Sylvia
SYLVIA ARZEY

Passionate about Expressive Arts

Sylvia is a Lawyer and caseworker who advocates and seeks protection for communities in the Wartarrka and outlying regions.  Sylvia has an strong understanding of Aboriginal community and its needs for expressive art.

Danielle
DAN O'KEEFFE

Unleashing Youth Voices

Dan O'Keefe has worked in the arts for over 15 years establishing a reputation as one of the country’s leading youth art creators specialising in voice. She has been part of the Lila Storytelling Festival since 2017

Travis
TRAVIS DE VRIES

Creator and Fantasy Fan

Travis is a Gamilaroi man, specialising in the delivery of culturally diverse projects and events across venues and artistic disciplines.  Travis is an  acclaimed artist, writer, producer and podcaster.

Curly
CURLY FERNANDEZ

Confidence through Drama

Artist and tutor, Curly specialises in mentoring young people with refugee status, english as a second language, Aboriginal youth and at risk groups. Mixing contemporary hybrid techniques of drama, art & literacy. 

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THE NEED FOR
THE LILLA PROJECT

42.5% of Indigenous students in the Northern Territory achieving the literary benchmark for Year 3

Many students are leaving school with literacy levels equivalent to a 5 year old

45-65% of Indigenous adults experience functional illiteracy

We believe the need for the continued success and expansion of the Lilla Project to reach more Indigenous students in remote regions is clear.

OUR SUCCESS

Through the Lilla project’s innovative use of drama as a teaching vehicle and its unique inclusion of Indigenous culture and language; PIA has established the relevancy of literacy skills for students, and ignited in them an unprecedented excitement for the power of words.

PIA’s mentoring of Watarraka’s educators has also empowered their continued use of drama as a teaching vehicle in the classroom; in doing so actively supporting their students’ continued literacy development.

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AS A DIRECT RESULT OF THIS PROGRAM, THE STUDENTS HAVE:

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Experienced significant increases in their literacy skills

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Developed an overwhelming sense of ownership, pride and confidence in their work

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Overcome their feelings of shame about having English as a second language

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Developed a deep hunger for further literary experiences

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Using their newfound literacy skills, the students successfully scripted a local Indigenous story for the first time in their lives using both English and local languages - How Emu Lost His Wings.

The phenomenal success of this program and the children’s work led to local elders welcoming their celebrated performance of their script at the annual Lilla Sports and Drama Festival 2018.

EDUCATORS HAVE ALSO REPORTED:

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a significant decline in absenteeism even after cultural allowances have been accounted for

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an increased willingness of the students to express their ideas, thoughts and feelings in a classroom setting

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positive changes in their interactions and demeanor at large

PIA has collaborated with Watarrka School on this exciting project over the last 18 months . With their Teaching Principal Christine, we are committed to giving these young children a sense of confidence through drama to discover possibilities in their lives.

- Curly Fernandez, LilLa Project Manager

With Thanks

TRANSFORMING THE LIVES OF STUDENTS IN RURAL AUSTRALIA IS POSSIBLE THANKS TO OUR GENEROUS PROJECT PARTNERS.

If you would like to become a supporter please send us a message...

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