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Indigenous Literacy Foundation welcomes new Board appointments

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The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) announces the appointment of three new Board members Nicole Abadee, Amara Barnes and Thomas Mayo commencing February 2024. 

“We warmly welcome these three outstanding individuals who each bring a wealth of experience and wisdom that will support the ILF in the next phase of our strategic vision,” said Ben Bowen, ILF CEO.  

Bowen highlighted that strong governance is critical to the ILF to achieve aspirational Community-led targets to enact Community literacy journeys.  

“I look forward to the opportunity to work closely with Nicole, Amara and Thomas in their capacity as ILF Board members.” 

Nicole Abadee was a barrister and then legal academic for 20 years, with a background in International Law and Human Rights Law. Nicole has worked in the book industry, working as a senior editor at Penguin Random House. She is currently the book writer for Good Weekend Magazine as well as a festival moderator, interviewing writers at writers’ festivals and Australian literary events.  

“What could be better than being part of an organisation that literally puts books into the hands of Indigenous kids?” 

“When the opportunity came up to apply for the ILF board role it just seemed like the perfect fit for me. I am passionate about books and reading and about equality of opportunity,” said Abadee.  

Nicole was heavily involved in the Yes Campaign for the 2023 Referendum for a First Nations Voice to Parliament and co-founded Writers for the Voice, an advocacy group with over 700 members. 

Related: Freshwater Farm to donate to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation

Amara Barnes is a proud Wiradyuri yinaa (woman) from Wambuul bila (Macquarie River) Country in Central West NSW. For the past decade, Amara has worked across multiple sectors and industries, including in media, tertiary, community, non-profit and private organisations, towards meaningful and positive outcomes for First Nations peoples.  

“First Languages are beautifully layered and complex and add so much depth to communicating,” said Barnes.  

“Providing access for children to books in their languages allows them to explore, practice and embed their language proficiency, protecting our languages for generations to come.” 

Amara is an advocate for First Nations self-determination, through Nation re-building, including the preservation and practice of languages and cultures. She is passionate about re-learning Wiradyuri language and passing it on to her gudha-galang (children). 

“For children, seeing their languages, stories and likeness in books is critical to self-affirmation, to ensure that our young ones grow strong and confident within their cultural identities,” added Barnes.   

Thomas Mayo is a Kaurareg Aboriginal, and Kulkalgal, Erubamle Torres Strait Islander man. He is a best-selling author and Assistant National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia. 

“Literacy is a great passion of mine, as is the struggle for empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Indigenous Literacy Foundation does both,” said Mayo.  

“I look forward to working with the board and the team in our Communities to continue the important work the foundation does.” 

Thomas has long advocated for social justice issues, including Indigenous and asylum seekers’ rights. Thomas is a signatory of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and has been a leading advocate since its inception in May 2017. 

“We are delighted to welcome three such high calibre Directors to the ILF Board and look forward to working with them,” said Natalie Ahmat, ILF Co-Chair

“Thomas, Amara and Nicole bring a wealth of experience, expertise, knowledge and passion to the Board that will prove invaluable in guiding the ILF as it enters a really exciting period of growth in 2024 and beyond.” 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.

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