26TEN Coalition

John Smith

About the

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

Daryl Quilliam 26TEN Coalition Chair

Local government sector

​I have been a councillor at Circular Head for 29 years. In the year 2000 I was elected Deputy Mayor a position I held before being elected as Mayor in 2007, a position I still hold.

I am passionate about education and literacy both for young and adults as I am aware many business people struggle to find people with this skill to employ. Circular Head, through many successful partnerships with Council, Rural health, CHAC and 26TEN, has done some great work which should be duplicated in other areas of our State. This work began after an audit was done in our district which revealed a shortage in these skills. 

The audit led to a novel project, "Hatching of the Reading bug", aimed at supporting family literacy.  Parents, especially fathers, were encouraged to read books to their children, something that has unfortunately been let slip over recent times.

Part of my role on the 26TEN Coalition has been to speak regularly with colleagues in the Local Government Association of Tasmania about the importance of councils, other government agencies, community groups, businesses and individuals collaborate to support Tasmanians to get the skills they need for everyday life. It was particularly rewarding to speak at the LGAT Conference in 2019, and congratulate the councils  already involved with 26TEN. 

I look forward to encouraging this good work to continue and motivating others so they too can reap the benefits to their communities when they lift adult literacy and numeracy. 

About being on the 26TEN Coalition

It’s inspiring to be part of the Coalition where my colleagues are dedicated, thought-provoking and smart. With their broad range of experience and skills they contribute to adult literacy and numeracy at both a strategic level in meetings, and at a practical level when out and about in their sectors. We are all working to make a difference for our fellow Tasmanians. If you like the sound of being involved in vital work that is also practical, and you work in a sector where you have influence, I encourage you to apply. 

John Smith

Siobhan Gaskell

Convenor, 26TEN Coalition

In her role as Director of the State Library of Tasmania (1997 to 2012), Siobhan saw first-hand the extent of the literacy needs across Tasmania.  A number of local family literacy programs were established as an initial response and Siobhan pursued a longer-term approach including, establishing the LINC Tasmania Adult Literacy Coordinator Network in 2010 and securing ongoing funding for the Tasmanian Adult Literacy Action Plan. 

With more than 15 years’ experience in executive management in State Government, Siobhan has been successful in leading significant change and has a keen understanding of social and community issues across Tasmania. In 2019, Siobhan’s leadership in lifting adult literacy and numeracy - both in her role as Director of the State Library of Tasmania, and since her retirement in 2012 - was recognised when she was inducted into the Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women.

To be successful, 26TEN requires significant cultural change to occur within Tasmania. Siobhan also believes that this will only come though all Tasmanians working together.

What Siobhan says about being part of the 26TEN Coalition

As part of the 26TEN Coalition since the beginning, I can reflect on how far we have come in addressing the problem of adult literacy and numeracy in Tasmania. We have raised awareness of the problem and seen many, many individuals, organisations and communities take action. Importantly, 26TEN has come a long way in establishing how to raise literacy and numeracy at the local level - what works and what doesn’t. And, the Coalition has been pivotal in providing the guidance and strategy behind this. As a group, not only do we bring people together, we also drive strategy for the future. 

There is still so much to do. Now working together to build reading, writing and maths skills is more important than ever.

John Smith

Tim Tierney 26TEN Coalition member

Legal sector

​Tim Tierney represents the legal  sector on the 26TEN Coalition

Tim has over three decades in  private legal practice  and over two decades service on the Law Society of Tasmania’s Property and Commercial Committee.  He has represented the Law Society on various committees and liaison groups with government and non-government bodies, including the Australian Property Law Group of the Law Council, Australia’s peak legal industry body and the redrafting of the standard form of real estate contract used throughout Tasmania. Tim was awarded the 2011 Presidents Award by the Law Society for service to the profession.

He is the principal of the law firms. Tierney Law, a  general legal practice with office in Hobart, Huonville, Sorrel and Dover, and Strand Conveyancing which focuses on  property transfer legal work. He has a law degree and post graduate diploma of legal practice. 

Tim enjoys writing and preparing practice materials. Tim assists the leading international legal publisher Lexis Nexis, in providing legal content for the Tasmanian jurisdiction. He delivers practical training for graduate lawyers at the Legal Practice Course and practicing lawyers for the Law Society of Tasmania.

Tim recognises the legal community has particular:

  • power and responsibility for citizen rights
  • reliance on the spoken and written word
  • complexity of concepts and language
  • accountability to multiple audiences.

Tim is pleased to be able to help the legal  sector and his local Huon Valley community participate in the long term, community wide improvement of literacy and numeracy standards in Tasmania.

What Tim says about being on the Coalition

"I have found my time on the 26TEN productive and uplifting. The 26TEN program is successful and inspiring. The people involved are good to work with and effective. What 26TEN has and can achieve is uplifting. I am pleased I have been able to serve my community by joining in the work."

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

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

Kym Goodes 26TEN Coalition member

Community sector

Kym Goodes, the principal of 3P, represents the community sector on the 26TEN Coalition. She is recognised as one of the foremost  public voices in Tasmania. She has over two decades of experience working in government and the not-for-profit sector in social and economic public policy fields as diverse as education, employment, transport, energy, digital inclusion, health, housing and human services. She has worked across both public and private sectors as a sought after advisor specialising in public engagement and evidence informed policy and program responses.

With post-gradaute leadership qualifications from Deakin University, Kym is skilled in negotiation and engagement strategies at a high level. Kym and the 3P team specialise in social licence to operate and corporate social responsibility - bringing together her expertise in social and economic policy.

Kym's experience and expertise is in bridging the gap between policy development and program implementation on the ground.

John Smith

Mellissa Gray 26TEN Coalition member

State Government sector

Mellissa Gray is the Executive Director, Strategy and Social Policy in the Department of Communities Tasmania. Prior to this appointment she spent 17 years in the Department of Premier and Cabinet in Tasmania in a variety of roles including A/g Deputy Secretary Policy and Intergovernmental Relations, Director Policy and Director of the Social Inclusion Unit from 2008 to 2014.  

Mellissa leads policy innovation for government including establishing the nation’s first place branding statutory authority, Brand Tasmania and amending the Tasmanian Constitution to recognise Aboriginal Tasmanians as Tasmania’s First people.

Mellissa has had a variety of professional roles including starting her career as an Associate Lecturer in the School of Government at the University of Tasmania; speechwriter, Parliamentary and community development Senior Advisor for the Premier of Tasmania from 2005 to 2007.

Mellissa was born in Tasmania, grew up in Risdon Vale, was educated in Tasmanian public schools, is a graduate of the University of Tasmania and is driven to make a difference to disadvantage in her home state.  She is married to Phillip and mum to Lucas and Joseph.

“It isn’t easy in Tasmania. It never has been. People said it was impossible, and for too long we believed it. This is why, for Tasmanians, good enough is never good enough. We work harder, we follow our obsessions, we support one another, and we protect what makes this place different. Being Tasmanian is the quiet pursuit of the extraordinary.” - Brand Tasmania

What Mellissa says about being on the 26TEN Coalition

"Every day one in two adult Tasmanians who may need help with literacy, quietly pursue their lives and may face extraordinary challenges. The 26TEN Coalition is a group of Tasmanians who are passionate about working hard to support people with adult literacy and raise awareness of its importance. 

As a member of the Coalition I have made cross-sectoral connections with people in industry in the community sector, in law, in medicine, in government and in the business sector, but most importantly I have been able to advocate to make a difference to the lives of everyday extraordinary Tasmanians – so that they can realise their potential and achieve their hopes and dreams, whether that’s reading to their child, catching the bus, or getting a job. 

Adult literacy and the 26TEN Coalition builds opportunity and hope for Tasmanians." 

John Smith

Malcolm Wells 26TEN Coalition member

Education sector

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

Judith Watson 26TEN Coalition Member

Health sector

Dr Judith Watson represents the health sector and has worked as a GP in a Launceston family practice since 1994. She  was a member of the Health Council of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Health Service Governing Council and the Chair of Primary Health Tasmania. 

Judith is passionately committed to improving the health of Tasmanians through both established and innovative strategies. She has a strong understanding of disconnects in the patient journey and of the challenges associated with changing culture and pursuing new opportunities in the health sector.

She sees health literacy as a vital component of a person's ability to contribute to looking after their own health and navigating the health system. It is also vitally important for health professionals to communicate in a way that is easily understandable by the recipients of their care.

Hear more about Judith's work with 26TEN, in her interview with Print Radio Tasmania here.

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