Alexander Stonyer-Dubinovsky is one of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award winners of 2016.  For the last two years Alexander has been working to find a solution to the underperformance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in literacy.

He co-founded Bawurra Foundation to help close the literacy gap, by celebrating Indigenous culture and making it a source of pride for students. Here Alexander speaks about the important role storytelling can play in a community.

In his own words: Alexander Stonyer-Dubinovsky, Queen's Young Leader 2016

Two years ago I co-founded an organisation called Bawurra Foundation in order to find a solution to the underperformance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in literacy. After many discussions we decided that the best way to do this is to celebrate the Indigenous culture and make it a source of pride for students.

The Indigenous people of Australia have been telling stories to pass on knowledge, tradition and culture for over 40,000 years with remarkable consistency. These stories document a variety of topics, from the creation of the world, to the explanation of local animals. Still to this day, storytelling is the only way to pass down the rich knowledge held by elders in Indigenous communities.

The stories are told through spoken words, dance, song and artwork. This tradition has remained unchanged for generations and some stories even reference areas from the last ice age that are currently underwater.

During my Queen’s Young Leaders journey I hope to have new ideas and a stronger understanding of how to be an agent for positive social change

We think local stories from Indigenous Elders will better engage Indigenous children into taking an active interest in reading. It´s exciting for students to see the landscapes or touch and smell leaves they hear about in a story in their own back garden. We´re trying to make children curious and proud of their local communities, which is good for school attendance and results.

The Queen Young Leaders Award is an amazing opportunity to learn and share with other young social innovators. We are currently in the process of rolling out the Kindles to schools as part of our trial study and after this we plan on expanding the program nationally. At this crucial point in our organisation´s growth, I am excited to learn from other Award winners and experts. During my Queen’s Young Leaders journey I hope to have new ideas and a stronger understanding of how to be an agent for positive social change.

The Queen’s Young Leader Award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. Winners of this prestigious Award will receive a unique package of training, mentoring and networking, including a one-week residential programme in the UK during which they will collect their Award from Her Majesty The Queen. Find out more on The Queen's Young Leaders' website.​