The Honour Roll recognises past State and
Territory and National Award recipients
Australian of the Year
2012 NT Australian of the Year Nominee
Margaret JamesState: Northern Territory
Linguist and Educator
Highly qualified and experienced in linguistics, psychology, speech, vocal issues and language, Margaret James has devoted her career to Indigenous education in central Australia. For many years, the low level of literacy amongst Indigenous school children in central Australia has challenged educators. In 2008, recognising that the standard resources used for teaching reading were not working, Indigenous Elders and school leaders asked Margaret for help. In consultation with the Yipirinya people in Alice Springs, Margaret soon realised that what was needed were books written in conversational Aboriginal English to smooth the path to reading books in Standard Australian English. So she set about writing the books in the language children speak every day. She created the Honey Ant Readers which, over the course of 20 books, evolve naturally from conversational Aboriginal English into Standard Australian English. The books also reflect the Yipirinya language, cultures and way of life. Since their introduction in 2010, the Honey Ant Readers have been helping both children and adults alike improve their literacy and, more importantly, build an ongoing connection with literature. Margaret’s Honey Ant Series is now being modified for use in Indigenous communities across Australia.