first nations program

Bringing the power of words to indigenous Australia

Acknowledgment of Country

Poetry In Action acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora nation who are the traditional custodians of the land on where Poetry In Action is based. We pay respect to the Elders past and present, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Poetry In Action has been busily discovering new horizons alongside First Nations youth at Papunya School in remote Northern Territory!

In June 2022 our First Nations teaching artist Neville Williams-Boney, together with dramaturg Matthew Edgerton, implemented an innovative program of carefully designed games, art activities, reading and writing; towards mastering the techniques of public speaking, script reading, storytelling and theatre making.

our indigenous program

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

  • 42.5% of indigenous students in the Northern Territory achieve the literacy 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

Our previous Successes

Previous vital PIA programs include the innovative Lilla project, named for the remote Lilla region located in the red desert dust of the Northern Territory. At Lilla, PIA’s Curly Fernandez guided up to 22 Indigenous students aged 5-15 through an intensive literacy program. With the help of this project 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 the Watarraka School’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 the program, the students have:

Experienced significant increases in their literacy skills

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

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

Developed a deep hunger for further literary experiences

Educators have also reported:

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

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

Positive changes in their interactions and demeanour at large

“PIA provide programs that the children enjoy and they respond really well. For our students, it’s important they have the self-confidence to speak out and communicate, especially for jobs. They need to be able to really perform. PIA supports my classroom to provide that.” 




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