Busking for Change 2024: How every school student can join Josh Pyke and Justine Clarke to help preserve Indigenous language in Australia

Imagine if every primary school student across Australia learned and performed an Indigenous song for a cause that promotes literacy in remote communities.

This is the vision of Busking for Change 2024, a musical fundraiser by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Launched by ARIA Award winner and ILF Ambassador Josh Pyke, the initiative invites primary schools across the country to participate by learning and performing a song in a First Nations language, raising vital funds to help Indigenous communities access and create books in their native language.

The 2024 song “Shordi Krik” was written in English and Kriol by students at Barunga Remote Community School in the Northern Territory in collaboration with ILF Ambassador Justine Clarke.

“I have a long relationship with the Barunga community and sing songs with them every year at the Barunga Festival,” Ms Clarke said.

She said the song was based on a poem the students wrote about their own experiences at a local swimming lake called Shordi Krik.

“We would love for everyone in Australia to sing Shordi Krik,” she said.

“The students, parents and elders in Barunga will be enormously proud knowing that people are behind them and trying to sing in one of their languages.

“This song is really easy to learn, it’s really fun. You can play it on the ukulele and guitar, there are backing tracks and the ILF offers lots of learning aids.”

“Every time you sing the song, you come into direct contact with children in remote communities and become an ambassador for the ILF.”

84 schools participated in Busking for Change 2023 and raised more than $81,000.

The goal for 2024 is even more ambitious: to reach 115 schools and raise $110,000 in donations.

These funds will benefit ILF’s Community Publishing program, which gives communities the opportunity to write and illustrate their stories in their native language.

Proud Jingili, Mudburra and Mangarrayi woman Cindy Manfong, editor of ILF Publishing Projects, is also a former student of Barunga Remote Community School.

She said the ILF plays an essential role in ensuring that remote communities have the means to share their rich cultural stories with the world, foster a sense of pride and preserve their unique languages ​​for future generations.

“Growing up, I rarely saw books in Kriol or any other indigenous language,” Ms Manfong said.

“It was only when I started working at the ILF that I began to see more books in indigenous languages.

“I think it would definitely have helped my identity a lot to see more of these books in Kriol.”

“I think it’s great that we’re doing ‘Busking for Change’ and trying to get schools to learn this song.”

The fundraiser begins in the first week of the third trimester and culminates with performances on Indigenous Literacy Day, Wednesday, September 4.

Schools that raise $50 or more will receive a Busking for Change book pack featuring bilingual children’s books such as “Shordi Krik” and “Country Tells Us When.”

Additional prizes will be awarded to the schools that raise the most money, including special categories for small schools and a prize draw.

Register at buskingforchange.ilf.org.au

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