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Young Achiever Teliha Clarke

Year 12 Dubbo College student Teliha Clarke has just published her first children’s book called The Devil Up in the Tree as part of an Aboriginal studies assessment.

The 17-year-old Indigenous Youth Leadership scholar, who has moderate- to-severe hearing loss, drew on her culture and the stories she was told by her grandmother growing up. “I loved listening to my Nan’s stories,” she says. “So when the opportunity came up as part of my Aboriginal studies assessment to write and publish a children’s book, I was really excited. “I wrote the story The Devil Up in the Tree, about staying safe at the river. I then asked for feedback from a local primary school and worked on the book with an illustrator. Luckily, with the help of Dubbo Printing Works, I was able to publish it.”

Teliha donated the proceeds of her book to the Dubbo and District Deaf Club. Teliha says she has always been interested in writing for children so when the opportunity came up to write and publish a children’s book, she went for it. Senior Campus Aboriginal studies teacher at Dubbo College, David Janetzki described Teliha’s project as one of the best he’d seen. “In my time teaching Aboriginal studies in NSW, I would say Teliha’s project is one of the most outstanding,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing her produce further work.” For Mr Janetzki, one of the key ingredients in Teliha’s project was its capacity for community consultation. “Communicating with the Aboriginal community is the basis of the subject and the beauty of it is that Aboriginal students get to talk to their own families about very important cultural issues. “Even more critically, by bringing family information forward in their projects, they are essentially preserving that cultural information for future generations.”

Local primary schools in western NSW now use Teliha’s book as a NAIDOC resource. Other outstanding projects in Aboriginal Studies at Dubbo College included a book on the Wiradjuri alphabet, including Braille letters for the visually impaired, completed by Nicole White, and another project that focused on bush tucker and medicine. “I interviewed my Pop and produced a DVD,” says another student, Lyndon. “It’s great to have the information he provided on bush tucker and medicine preserved forever. The project was particularly important to my family. “I hope to go to university next year and continue to study Aboriginal history and culture, so the more I can learn the better equipped I will be to tackle my studies.”

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