Supporting First Nations communities in 2023

Thank you for helping us partner with First Nations Australians as they drive meaningful change in their lives.

Supporting First Nations communities in 2023

Thank you for helping us partner with First Nations Australians as they drive meaningful change in their lives.


By supporting our Australia First Nations Program, you’re helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to create positive and lasting change.

Through strong partnerships and community-led solutions, you’re helping First Nations children to develop essential literacy skills. You’re also helping young First Nations people to gain strength from their culture and stand tall.

In the Central Desert region, we’re mentoring more Warlpiri community members to facilitate our Unlock Literacy program. This means they will be able to independently lead activities without the presence of non-Indigenous staff.

Four Unlock Literacy staff presented at the PULiiMA Indigenous Language and Technology Conference, held in Darwin in August. They joined representatives from the Warlpiri Education and Training Trust to discuss their efforts to promote Warlpiri children’s education, particularly through making books in Warlpiri language.

Three new schools in New South Wales joined our Young Mob program. Two successful camps were held for Young Mob leaders, enabling them to connect with each other and develop new skills. 



Playgroup bush trip

Children attending an educational bush trip

Unlock Literacy focuses on improving literacy levels among “early readers” children aged five to nine. In 2023, we continued implementing the model in partnership with Warlpiri communities in the Northern Territory communities of Lajamanu, Willowra and Nyirripi.

Originally developed by World Vision International, this evidence-based model has been adapted into 35 languages and applied in over 24 countries worldwide.

Unlock Literacy promotes five core reading skills: alphabet knowledge, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. It emphasises family, community and local languages and environments in literacy development and overall learning.

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children took part in programme activities.



people attended community events and book launches.



Unlock Literacy activities took place, including six bush trips to help connect children with country.


reference group members helped guide program activities, to ensure they are culturally relevant.



Unlock Literacy activity

Cutting a coolamon using the bark of a native tree. Coolamons are pieces of bark which Aboriginal people used to carry food, seeds and water.

Young Mob is a positive youth development program that equips participants – aged 10-20 years – with cultural knowledge and values. This supports them in building a positive identity and essential life skills. 

The program features learning activities in schools, communities and on Country, led by First Nations facilitators using a First Nations learning approach. Young people involved in the program are referred to as leaders, and some participate in camps, road trips and cultural exchanges. 

In 2023, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face sessions resumed without interruption. This allowed us to broaden our reach by enrolling three new schools: Maitland, Rutherford and Inner Sydney.

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young people took part in the programme.



schools participating in the program, with the addition of three new schools joining.



Young Mob sessions were held with First Nations youth in 2023.



successful camps were held for Young Mob leaders, so they can build new skills and connections.



Children participate as facilitator makes bush medicine

Children participate as facilitator makes bush medicine

“I need more of this so I can run faster,” one child said. “Give me some. I’ll take a container home with me,” said another.

These were the excited words of a group of children in Willowra who recently tried their hand at bush medicine. The special after-school activity was part of our Unlock Literacy program for early readers.

In the Northern Territory, working closely with Warlpiri communities helps make the program culturally strong and relevant.

 A passionate Unlock Literacy facilitator from the local community ran the activity. It was a chance to share her knowledge and skills with the next generation. “I felt good and comfortable,” she said.

 She collected and prepared the medicine, while a group of children aged 5-12 rushed to get involved. They waited eagerly until the bush medicine was ready to put on their bodies.

Other community members also joined the fun. They included a health worker, a community development worker and two flying doctors.

Activities like these help children learn new words and strengthen their cultural knowledge. They also raise the agenda of literacy in the community. It’s all part of nurturing confident and engaged lifelong readers.