A group of Indigenous girls from the Tiwi Islands are talking about racism experienced on the football field, following the release of two Adam Goodes documentaries earlier this year.
Eleven female students from Tiwi College, a school on a group of islands off Darwin, have written a book ‘Ngiya Yintanga Japarrika’ (‘I am the storm bird’) with the help of Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) ambassadors Shelley Ware and David Lawrence.
“Racism is a huge topic they brought up this time, and one of the girls who played footy down in Melbourne, she’s actually experienced it first-hand this year. So it was so important that she shared that,” Lawrence told HuffPost Australia.
Having coached the girls through the writing process this week, Lawrence said it was important for the students to include the issue in the book, because people need to know racism is experienced by many Indigenous Australians, whether they’re retired AFL player Adam Goodes or a school student from the Tiwi Islands.
“It’s the same,” he said. “It was very brave of her to share that and we as a group thought it was really important to have that in the book and how you do deal with that… the way they’ve written it up in the story is very emotional and very moving.”
Earlier this year the release of documentaries The Final Quarter, and The Australian Dream shone a light on the racism Adam Goodes experienced while playing AFL for the Sydney Swans before his retirement in 2015.
“This happened after the Adam Goodes thing, after the movies had come out,” Lawrence said of the incident shared by one of the Tiwi College students. “So you’d think people would know a little better, but still there are [racist] people out there.”
Fellow ILF ambassador Shelley Ware, a proud Yankunytjatjara and Wirangu woman, added the book will play a role in stopping racism.
“We have a massive problem in Australia with the unconscious stereotypes and racism that occurs and unfortunately it can be a daily occurrence for Aboriginal people,” she told HuffPost Australia.
“We need as a society to try and change that. Ngiya Yintanga Japarrika, the third book in the series, will help people be part of classrooms and they’ll be talking about it. They will be really going over what racism is and how it affects people, so this plays an important role in bringing a stop to racism.”
Over the past three years both Shelley and David have worked with these high school students as part of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s program supported by publishing company, Penguin Random House (PRH). Each year the students have spent a week with the ILF ambassadors and PRH staff in Sydney to write, illustrate and publish a book that contributes to a young adult trilogy. Ngiya Yintanga Japarrika is the final instalment in the Japarrika trilogy.
On Friday PRH presented the Indigenous Literacy Foundation with a $100,000 cheque to continue supporting their work in raising literacy levels and helping families in remote Indigenous communities across Australia.