13 May Changing Lives Through Literacy
Filmmaker Hailey Bartholomew works with the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) – the independent charity dedicated to raising national language, literacy and numeracy standards in remote and marginalised communities in Australia. Bron Bates asked her why ALNF is awesome. This is what she told her.
I’ve been doing photography and films with ALNF for about five years. In this time, I’ve enjoyed observing their work and seeing them flourish. Watching the way they respectfully interact and empower people has been really rewarding and inspiring. I have a huge amount of respect for the women running this organisation.
I’m passionate about ALNF because they really do change lives. I’ve seen and interviewed people who have had their lives changed, improved and empowered because of their ability to communicate better and to share their knowledge. When we look at the problems our beautiful Indigenous families are facing, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed and feel like there’s nothing you can do. Because of ALNF, I think there’s something we can all do that makes a huge difference.
Recently I spoke with a beautiful Indigenous teacher’s aid working in Kempsey. The skills ALNF gave her have empowered her to be a really valuable teacher in the community. Seeing her tear up and share how good it feels to give back to the children in her community is enough to make anyone become passionate about this work. You can see a little film about the benefits of longer term work in one place in the video below.
In this community, not only have they trained so many teachers and teacher aids but parents and community workers too. This creates a groundswell because then everyone is across the same resources and delivers to the kids consistently. It’s inspiring! Seeing so many kids engaged in learning is wonderful.
There have been many beautiful moments working on this project. Once we went out bush with a preschool class and their mothers. We made damper and cooked potatoes and sausages too. I feel like I get to see a side to my homeland that I never get to experience elsewhere. Once we got there, the mums and kids started hunting for witchetty grubs…they were all quick to cook them up and offer me one. I am vegetarian, but this was an opportunity not to be missed, so I gobbled him up! He tasted like corn and chicken mixed together. There was also this gorgeous group of teen girls and they were digging for some roots. I asked what the root was for and they said it made their hair grow quickly. Then, seeing I have short hair, they quickly started squishing some of the roots into my hair! It was hilarious and so kind.
Another time I remember waiting on a small island off Palm Island for our flight home and it was raining. A group of beautiful indigenous women began to sing and tell their stories through song.
I still feel goose-bumpy thinking about it.
However, my favourite is probably watching kids understand and enjoy the learning because of the fun way ALNF has developed to teach basic reading principles. There are so many games and fun interactions that make learning the best fun. For me, learning should be fun and should be something kids enjoy, so seeing how ALNF do that is a joy to capture.
If you’d like to get involved or donate to ALNF check out their website.
Hailey Bartholomew is a director and photographer who lives with her husband Andrew and their daughters, Zali, 15, and Poppy, 12, in Queensland. Visit her websites, You Can’t Be Serious and 365grateful and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.