Keeping up with Princess Diana in the Late 90s: A story of denied literacy in remote Central Australian Indigenous communities

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Melodie Bat


This paper has a purpose and that purpose is to tell a story. An important story. A story that will sadden you and perhaps give rise to dismay. But it’s not a story about a princess. This story takes place, not in the glitz and glamour of Europe with fast cars, great shopping and an avid and enthusiastic paparazzi, but rather in the desert of Central Australia where you need a good four-wheel drive to get home on the dusty roads, where shopping is limited to the basics at the local store, but where people are still avidly following the life and times of the ‘Princess of our hearts’.

This paper will tell this story and for many reading this, the story will be enough, for much of what I will say is self-evident, so much so that it seems almost ludicrous to have to analyse the impact of the events I will describe. However, in the interests of academic analysis and to further understand and appreciate the impact of these events, I will firstly frame the context of emergent literacy, give the background to the story and detail the findings of some research which I undertook within this community. Finally, I present the broader implications of these findings and make some recommendations.

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Author Biography

Melodie Bat, Bachelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

Melodie Bat is a lecturer in the Teacher Education program at the Bachelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in the Northern Territory, Australia. Melodie has worked in Indigenous education in the Northern Territory of Australia since 1994.