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Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Page: 7794


Ms PARKE (9:40 AM) —Today I wish to draw members’ attention to the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre, which is located in the former hospital quarters of the old Fremantle Prison, a site which incidentally was nominated earlier this year for World Heritage listing. The Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre is one of a kind. The centre supports the teaching of literacy and the writing and illustration of children’s literature and it brings these things together in its provision of innovative workshops for school groups. The centre creates opportunities for young people to become excited about reading, writing and art. It is a place where even the most reluctant readers can discover the magic of books.

The centre provides a place for authors and illustrators to loan their original artworks so that children, teachers and other authors can see the process of a book coming to life, from concept drawings to completed artworks. Successful authors and illustrators such as Shaun Tan, Marc McBride, Coral Tulloch and Markus Zusak have all worked with the centre to deliver workshops for students and educators. Books such as The Watertower by Gary Crew and Stephen Woolman and The Arrival by Shaun Tan are workshopped with children, who are then given the opportunity to discuss the books and participate in a range of activities that take them deeper into the text. Many of these books build our sense of national identity. I was lucky to attend the book launch of Simpson and His Donkey, written by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Frané Lessac, a great book which tells a great Australian story.

The Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre was set up in 1993 by the federal government as a project of national significance with a view to establishing similar centres around the country. To date there is no other centre in Australia that provides the special range of functions that the centre provides. The centre is located in the Fremantle electorate but it works across all of Western Australia, including in regional and rural areas and remote Aboriginal communities. Because of its uniqueness the centre’s expertise is in great demand, and it also conducts workshops outside of Western Australia, including in the Northern Territory, Adelaide, Christmas Island and even Bangkok.

The Deputy Prime Minister visited the centre with me on 8 July. Students from Beaconsfield Primary School, Lance Holt School and Christ the King School quizzed the Deputy Prime Minister and me on our favourite books and on what we were currently reading. We were then given a demonstration of an interactive workshop, one of the teaching methods in which the centre excels.

In 2009 the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre is planning to host a summit of key people in the world of children’s literacy and literature to discuss the establishment of a network of children’s literature centres around Australia. I strongly support the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre, its inspirational leader, Lesley Reece, and her wonderful staff in their efforts to extend to all of Australia the benefits they provide to young readers and writers, to authors and illustrators and to educators.