26TEN Coalition

John Smith

About the 26TEN Coalition

26TEN Coalition

The 26TEN Coalition is a group of influential Tasmanians who give their time pro bono to encourage people and organisations to understand the challenge of low literacy and numeracy, and to take action. The Coalition supports 26TEN’s vision for a State where all of us have the literacy and numeracy skills needed for work and life. The Coalition also provides high-level direction and advocacy, and support to the Minister for Education and Training. 

Coalition members each represent a specific industry, community or education sector where they identify priorities. They are responsible for implementing an action plan to encourage organisations to join the 26TEN Network.  Current sectors are:

  • health 
  • education 
  • vocational education and training 
  • state government
  • local Government 
  • community services
  • agriculture
  • aged and disability care. 

The Coalition is supported by the Tasmanian Government through Libraries Tasmania.

John Smith

Malcolm Wells

26TEN Coalition Chair

Malcolm is the Chair of the 26TEN Coalition. In this role Malcolm promotes the 26TEN Tasmania Strategy and is instrumental in developing the ongoing strategic direction for 26TEN.

A former Deputy Secretary in the Department of Education, Malcolm worked for 34 years in public education in Tasmania. He was the General Manager of Learning Services in the North West from 2007 until 2010 and was the Principal of Ulverstone Primary School for eight years. Malcolm is a Director on the Board of the Cradle Coast Authority and is a member of the Non Government Schools Registration Board. In addition to work in the education sector Malcolm is on the Board of Choose Life Services, an organisation providing support services to those affected by suicide. 

What Malcolm says about being part of the 26TEN Coalition

"26TEN is a great initiative. Hopefully each of us on the Coalition can spread the word, get others involved and connect people to the services and support that make a difference to adult literacy in Tasmania. 

Playing a small part in Tasmania’s innovative approach to the challenge of improving levels of adult literacy is very rewarding. Peoples lives have changed because of the work of the 26TEN team, our Network of volunteers and business and community groups who are all committed to making a difference to adult literacy in our state."

Listen to Malcolm discuss his work with 26TEN during his Print Radio Tasmania interview.

John Smith

Gail Eaton-Briggs 26TEN Coalition member

Adult Learning and Trades sector

​Gail Eaton-Briggs represents the vocational education and training (VET) sector on the 26TEN Coalition and was appointed in 2020. 

Gail’s career spans over thirty years in local and state government environments. Her most recent roles were in the State Executive Service in the Department of Community Services and TasTAFE. 

In 2019 Gail left the State Executive Service to begin her own practice, Everywhen Solutions. She uses her expertise in facilitation, leadership, people development and planning to develop bespoke solutions for her clients. 

Gail has a long-standing commitment to adult learning including being a skilled trainer and assessor. At TAFE Tasmania, the Skills Institute and TasTAFE, she had a number of roles where she was accountable for achieving and maintaining compliance of the Registered Training Organisation against the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF).

Gail brings her significant experience in the vocational education and training sector to the focus on adult learning and trades in her role on the 26TEN Coalition. Gail holds a Masters of Public Administration, Bachelor of Social Science (Human Services), Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and a 

Company Directors Diploma. She has been a finalist in the Telstra Women’s Business Awards for her work in quality systems and workforce development.

She is a Certified Trainer in the i4 Neuroleader Model™️ using neuroscience to build healthy and high performing leaders and is an Accredited Consultant in DISC Advanced®, helping individuals and teams know their natural and adjusted behavioural workplace style.

Why Gail has joined the 26TEN Coalition

“I cannot bear the thought of an individual not being able to participate to have their best life because functional literacy is a barrier. That’s why I’m making a contribution through the 26TEN Coalition”.

John Smith

Richard Warner 26TEN Coalition member

Agriculture sector

​Richard Warner joins the 26TEN Coalition to represent the agriculture sector. He is a respected industry advocate and former farmer with a broad range of experience in many aspects of agriculture including horticulture, research and development, sales and marketing, advising major Tasmanian agribusinesses such as Houston’s Farm, and providing advice to governments.

Why Richard has joined the 26TEN Coalition 

“Literacy and numeracy skills are part of a person’s human capital. They help people take part in family life, community events and jobs. Studies show that almost 50 per cent of Tasmanians find reading and writing difficult. In agriculture, it may be more than 50 per cent. Tasmania’s agricultural industries employ 14,500 people.

Low levels of literacy and numeracy are barriers to employment. This may get worse in future as agriculture meets the significant opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. From family farms to corporate businesses, agriculture will increasingly need to use new technologies. Agriculture will also need to meet the growing public demand for environmental protection, animal welfare and safe, highly nutritious foods.

A good education will provide the way to a better life, increased employment opportunities and better pay. All school leavers should be equipped with literacy and numeracy skills to manage everyday social and work life. However, as we know, this is not always the case, and too many individuals slip through the net.

26TEN is a State Government program that helps people, businesses and community groups improve literacy and numeracy skills. From my own farming experience, I know the first problem is to identify people who need help, then to provide that help in a sensitive and constructive way.”

Listen to his interview with Print Radio Tasmania as Richard discusses his ideas around his work with 26TEN.

John Smith

Allyson Warrington 26TEN Coalition member

Aged Care and Disability Care sectors

​Allyson is the CEO of Community Based Support, a Tasmanian not-for-profit organisation that supports people who are frail, aged or living with a disability to remain living independently at home. She is representing the aged and disability care sector. 

Allyson brings to the Coalition a diverse set of skills in primary health and community care, having spent the last nine years in the health sector, and an extensive professional skill set in corporate governance, financial management, change management, strategy, stakeholder engagement and policy development. She is a former CEO of General Practice Training Tasmania and has held other CEO and General Manager positions throughout her long career. 

Allyson has been a Chair of the national network of General Practice Regional Training Organisations. She is also a member of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, former President of the Cancer Council Tasmania, and a member of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency Finance Audit and Risk Management Committee. Her former non-executive director roles include Director of the Tasmanian Polytechnic, President of the Australian Marketing Institute (Tas) and Public Relations Institute of Australia (Tas). She holds a Bachelor of Business (Marketing and International Business) and Company Directors Course Diploma.

Why Allyson has joined the 26TEN Coalition 

‘I’ve chosen to be on the 26TEN Coalition as a way of contributing further to the broader Tasmanian community.  The total sum of many individuals enabling others in our community can be enormous.  I’m looking forward to working with members of the Coalition to put my skills and expertise to good use in assisting to improve literacy and numeracy in our community.  I will aim to ‘bring along’ my colleagues in the aged care and disability sectors to really make a difference’.

Listen to Allyson's interview discussing her work with 26TEN on Print Radio Tasmania

John Smith

Traycee Di Virgilio 26TEN Coalition member

Building and Construction sector

Traycee represents the Building and Construction sector on the 26TEN Coalition.  

Born and raised in Tasmania, Traycee has witnessed inequity and disadvantage, particularly relating to literacy and numeracy challenges which has fuelled her determination to make a difference. 

She has advocated for literacy and numeracy, women, inclusion, and diversity in the Tasmanian building and construction sector for many years. In her role with the Tasmanian Government’s Southern Central Trade Training Centre, she supports the delivery of vocational education and training programs, mentoring initiatives, and scholarship opportunities for all.  

Traycee has held leadership roles in industry organisations, including Keystone Tasmania and St Joseph Affordable Homes. She is an independent Non-Executive Director on two Tasmanian Boards and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Traycee understands the importance of partnerships with industry stakeholders and works closely with construction companies, government agencies, educational institutions, and community organisations to promote adult literacy and numeracy. 

Looking ahead, Traycee is committed to her mission of advocating for literacy and numeracy initiatives, women, inclusion, and diversity in the building and construction sector. She continues to work tirelessly to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create pathways for underrepresented individuals to thrive. With her unwavering passion and determination she aims to inspire further positive change and encourages the building and construction industry to support 26TEN initiatives and work towards being a more equitable and diverse sector for all. 

Improving literacy in Tasmania is the most important thing we can do for our future – socially and economically – and our collaborative efforts must continue for many years to come. 

John Smith

Bec Thomas 26TEN Coalition Member

Local Government sector

Bec represents the Local Government Sector on the 26TEN Coalition.  Bec has served as Mayor of Glenorchy since 2021 and was first elected to the Council in 2018.

Glenorchy born and bred, Bec has a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Psychology and Sociology and First Class Honours in Sociology from the University of Tasmania. Bec’s career has included roles at the Australian Bureau of Statistics; Sport and Recreation Tasmania; the Premier’s Physical Activity Council; the Tasmanian Institute of Sport; the Local Government Division in the Department of Premier and Cabinet; and the Mental Health, Alcohol & Drug Directorate in the Department of Health. Bec also worked as an Adviser to the Speaker of the House of Assembly and Member for Clark. 

Bec is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and founded Rising Kind in March 2019 to promote positive mental health and deliver Mental Health First Aid and Suicide Prevention Training. Bec is very passionate about upskilling everyday community members to change and save lives through this training, which she calls ‘CPR for the mind.’  

During Bec’s time with Council she has witnessed the 26TEN program go from strength to strength and has been inspired to become more involved in the important work being done to provide better outcomes for our communities. Bec firmly believes learning to read, write and add up can be literally life changing, not just for individuals, but for our whole community. Improved literacy and numeracy skills build self-esteem, make people feel included and lead to better communication, less conflict and better relationships.  

John Smith

John Upcher 26TEN Coalition member

Legal sector

John was appointed in 2023 to represent the legal sector on the 26TEN Coalition. He was a legal practitioner with the Hobart legal firm of Dobson, Mitchell & Allport from 1970 until 2012. 

John was an inaugural member of the Legal Profession Board, Chair of the Property Agents Board, and Chair of the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts Management Committee from 1997 to 2012. He has also been on the boards of a number of arts related organisations, including the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Foundation. 

John sees his role on the Coalition as not only raising awareness in the legal sector of the problem of adult literacy, but more importantly promoting the use of plain English in legal documents, forms and communications. He believes that there is a need to avoid the use of legalese and complex phraseology in letters of advice and documents, and particularly in forms used by courts and tribunals dealing directly with the public. He sees it as important to instil the use of plain English throughout the legal sector from as early as student level with a view to creating a more efficient and accessible legal system. 

John Smith

Sue McKerracher

26TEN Coalition Member

Sue McKerracher joined Libraries Tasmania as Executive Director in 2022. This move followed a 20-year career working with libraries in the UK and Australia, during which time she had a strong focus on literacy and reading for children and young people.

Sue reviewed the Centre for Youth Literature and Young Readers’ Program for the State Library of Victoria (2009-2010); ran the Australian National Year of Reading in 2012 and was a founder member (2016) and Chair (2019-2021) of the National Early Language and Literacy Coalition.

In her previous role as CEO of the Australian Library and Information Association for nine years, Sue worked with authors, publishers and booksellers to raise awareness of the benefits of reading through the Australia Reads campaign.

What Sue says about joining the 26TEN Coalition

People are often shocked when they hear that more than 40 percent of people in Australia struggle with everyday tasks because they can’t read and write fluently – but it’s a fact and one that Tasmania has been brave enough to tackle through the 26TEN initiative. It is rare to find such a well thought through program, achieving and maintaining a strong sense of local ownership, and attracting sustained government investment. I have admired it from a distance since its launch and I look forward to contributing directly to its continued success.

John Smith

Alex Paterson

26TEN Coalition Member

Alexandra is a Senior Director at Skills Tasmania. Skills Tasmania takes the lead in developing and managing the Tasmanian training and workforce development system in partnership with industry, the vocational education and training sector, and the wider community.

Alexandra has experience working in leadership roles across a number of Australian jurisdictions and overseas and within a range of sectors, including Federal, State and Local Government, transport, infrastructure, land use planning, property development and skills and workforce development.

Alexandra is a contemporary leader with a deep understanding of how governments work and is passionate about building partnerships between communities, industries and government to solve problems in the public interest. She has an unwavering passion for equity, transparency and fairness and a proven track record of improving organisational performance through leadership, strategy and collaboration.

Alexandra has a master’s in environmental planning, a Bachelor of Arts/Law and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is also currently the Board Chair for Lipscombe Child Care Services. Alexandra grew up in Tasmania and returned to raise her family. She has two young children, Zoe and Fraser. 

To view past 26TEN Coalition Members click here