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Iama IKC: more than a library

By Indigenous Services | 1 August 2022

On 26 July 2007, the Dawita Cultural Centre was opened, which included an Indigenous Knowledge Centre (IKC). The IKC was established in partnership with then Iama Island Council, now Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC), and State Library of Queensland. In addition to providing a library service, the IKC is a space used by the community to revive, preserve, and share their culture through language, art, song, and dance. Several projects and programs have been delivered through the IKC, capturing stories and sharing knowledge.

Aerial view of Iama

Iama (Yam Island, Yama or Turtle Back Island) is one of the Central Islands in the Torres Strait.


Stories Under Tagai

In 2012, discussions between State Library of Queensland, Mayor Gela, local government members, schools, and community groups throughout the Torres Strait, identified a need for more family literacy and cultural education projects. Through funding from State Library’s Expanding Horizon grant, the ‘Stories Under Tagai’ project was brought to life. With additional funding from The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA), TSIRC and Torres Shire Council, the project was delivered to six locations: Badu, Hammond Island, Iama, Mabuiag, Poruma and Thursday Island.

Divisional Managers and IKC staff of Iama consulted with the community to tailor the project to meet their artistic and cultural interests and vision. The team organised dates and venues, identifying cultural brokers, storytellers, rangers, artists, local experts and other staff to participate.

With consultation completed, the IKC Coordinator organised ‘Stories Under Tagai’ –the story of Aka Medthre – to be undertaken as a two-day workshop during the Easter holidays. The Iama Community converged in the IKC and participated in bringing the story of Aka Medthre to life. In storytelling by Cr Walter Mackie, artist Glen Mackie captured the story as a mural on the Dawita Cultural Centre wall (which is still there today). An evening activity was planned to use the app 'Star Walk' installed on several iPads, and Ranger David Baragud took the children, adults, and Elders of Iama on a star gazing journey.

The Story of Aka Medthre

Stories Under Tagai

The Iama IKC is one of ten IKCs operated by the Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC) in partnership with State Library of Queensland. The other IKCs are located at Badu, Boigu, Dauan, Erub, Hammond Island, Kubin Village, Mabuiag, Poruma and Warraber. 

Exploring the Collection

If you’d like to explore some of State Library’s collection items relating to Iama Island, we have a few suggestions in the links below:

Celebrating 20 Years of IKCs

In 2002, the first Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs) were developed in partnership with then Aboriginal Community and Island Councils across Queensland. Seven IKCs were opened in 2002 with many more to follow over the years.

This year thirteen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Shire and Regional Councils will celebrate the role their IKCs play in their communities; as libraries, meeting places, hubs and keeping places.

IKC 20 years banner


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