Wharfies Fund Literacy Backpacks For Aboriginal Kids

Wharfies today presented a cheque for $5000 to Ian Thorpe's Fountain for Youth Program, to fund literacy programs for indigenous children in disadvantaged communities in northern Australia.

Thanking workers for the donation from the workers at the DP World terminal at Port Botany, McMullen, CEO of the Fountain for Youth Program, said that the money would go to the Literacy Backpack program, designed to bring books that children want to read into their homes and school libraries.

Former 60 mInutes and Foreign Correspondent reporter, McMullen said that the backpack program was important in "providing the link between parent/teacher and student, with reading material going home via the backpack for all the family members. The program is developing a reading culture for all the community. It's pretty fundamental when you have in some instances illiteracy rates as high as 93%".

"The Literacy Backpack isn't just about bringing books into bookless homes but about filling up school library shelves with books to excite the students, opening the students up to a world of books and switching them onto learning, in communities where there are no community libraries and no other access to reading materials", McMullen said.

Maritime Union of Australia member and workplace trainer at DP world Paul O'Keefe said the' donation came from contributions over the last year from DP World workers. "What Jeff McMullen and his team are doing at a grass roots level is inspirational and it's great for our people to be able to make a contribution".

In 2003 Fountain for youth began funding maternal and child health education in the remote communities east of Katherine, NT.

Research confirmed that the essential foundation for improved health and life expectancy was rapid progress in life empowering education.

The Literacy Empowerment Project combines support for parents and infants, preschool education, development of literacy, cultural enrichment and building stepping stones towards employment and family wellbeing.

Media Inquiries: Paul O'Keefe 0425 291741 Michael Meagher 0410 482367