The importance of literacy – Burnie's 26TEN Community
Who set up Burnie's 26TEN Community?
July 2013, Burnie City Council set up a 12-month 26TEN Demonstration
Project that was overseen by a Steering Group of people who work in
schools, vocational education, business, job skills programs, human
services, LINC Tasmania, literacy support programs and local government.
A small Working Group from the Council and LINC Tasmania managed
day-to-day organising, while volunteers were recruited to help out with
What was the focus for Burnie's community?
main focus of the project was raising awareness about the importance of
adult literacy and reducing the stigma that people with low literacy
sometimes face. Wherever possible, the Steering Group linked adult
literacy to existing projects in Burnie that aim to create jobs and help
people develop work skills.
How did they engage the community?
short 'call to action' was developed to encourage people to seek
support themselves and encourage family, friends and colleagues to do
the same. Further information was given through specific events and
- Information breakfasts and lunches for
business operators ranging from automotive to retail, and for job
service agencies, and non-government organisations.
- A community
event where an empty shop was taken over for a day. People were
encouraged to pop in and meet people who run literacy support programs,
and to engage in fun literacy-related activities. Local radio broadcast
from the shop and ran competitions with prizes related to literacy.
Volunteers stood at various points in the city centre and talked to
people about literacy and 26TEN. About 200 people took part.
- Plain English workshops for businesses and non-government organisations.
- The development of an app called 'How to hold the 26TEN chat', which gives tips on raising the subject of literacy with people.
on local radio stations that reassured listeners that adults can
improve their literacy skills and that 26TEN offers an opportunity to
get the tools to do this. The ads had a light, humorous style and copies
of the audio clips and scripts are available from 26TEN.
What advice can the working group give other 26TEN communities?
the 12 months of the project, the number of people in Burnie who asked
for support steadily increased. The working group offered these tips for
people starting their own community.
- Make sure you have enough people, time and funds to plan your project well.
- Be clear about literacy problems in your community and what you're trying to do.
- Think about who – individuals and groups – you need to work with to really make a difference.
- Remember that 'word of mouth' works powerfully in small communities.
- Link literacy to other learning and training initiatives and be ready for increased demand for literacy support programs.