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Outreach   /  Hannah

In My Own Words

Raw, heartfelt, sometimes painstaking but often funny, In My Own Words follows the journey of adult Aboriginal students.


Impact areas




  • DIRECTOR Erica Glynn

  • PRODUCER Darren Dale



Learning your ABCs as an adult can be a painstaking undertaking but for a group of blackfellas in the small Australian outback town of Brewarrina having a caring friend by your side makes all the difference in the world, in fact it can lead you to discover the transformative powers of reading and writing for the first time in your life.

It’s estimated that today in Australia between 40 - 65% of Aboriginal adults are functionally illiterate in English, but out in North West New South Wales moves are afoot to whittle away at this appalling statistic.

Using a Cuban method called ‘Yes I Can’, a group called the Literacy for Life Foundation are moving into towns, setting up classrooms, and offering Aboriginal men and women an opportunity to learn to read and write, and it seems there are no shortage of takers.

Key to the success of the program is that local Aboriginal people familiar to students are hand picked by the community and trained on the job to be the teachers.

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

“It’s not their fault they haven’t learnt to read and write - it’s ours.”
Professor Jack Beetson – Literacy for Life Foundation

Illiteracy amongst the Aboriginal adult population is a huge issue. In fact it has been estimated that between 45 - 65% of Aboriginal adults were functionally illiterate – A shocking and sobering statistic.

Brewarrina is 10 hours drive from Sydney, and is like so many small, rural north west NSW towns. It has a majority Aboriginal population. There are limited employment opportunities and plenty of ‘social issues’, and programs to fix these issues regularly come and go.

But the Cuban ‘Yes I Can’ method that the Literacy for Life Foundation uses to teach basic literacy insists that the local community take responsibility for running and teaching the program, and it’s this, in tandem with the students learning journey, that we were there to film.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

In My Own Words demonstrates the impact a grass roots, community driven literacy campaign can have, particularly in regional and remote areas which lack educational institutions and resources. The life-changing success of the Literacy for Life Foundation in implementing adult literacy campaigns in regional and remote NSW deserves recognition and support so that it can expand the campaigns to other communities.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

An increase in support for the Literacy for Life Foundation’s work enabling them to expand their education program to other areas. This will be measured by a direct increase in funding to the Foundation, new sponsors and corporate partners.

Increased participation in the Literacy For Life Foundation’s programs measured by an increase in people participating and signing up.

The creation of a broad coalition of organisations committed to working together to address Indigenous adult illiteracy.

Increased funding and commitment by Federal and State governments to address the issue.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

We support the actions of the Literacy for Life Foundation and encourage audiences to research and support their literacy programs.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

1. Donate to Literacy for Life Foundation

2. Host a screening

3. Increase awareness through social media

4. Lobby politicians for dedicated funding for Indigenous adult literacy programs

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

The implementation of further grass roots, community driven Indigenous adult literacy campaigns in regional and remote Australia.