Low literacy and numeracy is associated with poor health

People who struggle with reading, writing and maths, often have poor health.

A person with low levels of health literacy struggles to read and interpret medical information and advice.  Poor literacy can have a major impact on health outcomes at both a personal and societal level.
People with lower literacy:

  • have more difficulty managing their own health and illnesses
  • have less knowledge of health conditions and treatment
  • have greater dependence on health care providers
  • use emergency services more
  • are admitted to hospital more
  • experience more medication and treatment errors.

Taking action 

Health literacy is important for improving health outcomes and reducing health inequalities. The issues are complex so we are taking a long-term coordinated approach that involves the whole community. 26TEN, Tasmania’s campaign for adult literacy, is the banner under which we can all pull together to make a difference.  

26TEN Chat - a new resource to support people who work in the health sector

People who provide services to the public are often the first to notice someone’s struggle with literacy or numeracy. People who work in the health sector are well placed to refer people with difficulties to get help, but may not know how to raise the issue or may not have the right information to pass on. 

That’s why 26TEN developed the 26TEN Chat, a practical five-step guide to having a conversation with someone you have noticed having difficulty with reading, writing or maths. The 26TEN Chat, how it works and other resources, are available to use and share at:

The guide and resources were developed and tested across Tasmania by service providers in sectors including health, education, government and community. Representatives from the health sector including the Health Literacy Network took part in this co-design.

26TEN is part of the Health Literacy Network

Reading, writing and numeracy skills are vital for people to understand and use health information correctly. Health literacy is important for improving health outcomes and reducing health inequalities. 26TEN, Tasmania’s campaign for adult literacy, is the banner under which we can all pull together to make a difference.

Making a difference - current campaigns and projects

The Health Literacy Network is running a number of campaigns and projects that raise expectations of both health care service providers and those who use them.


HeLLOTas is a toolkit for developing health literacy in community service organisations. The kit was developed collaboratively with members of the Health Literacy Network and led by TasCOSS.

To check your organisation’s health literacy and ways to develop it, visit

Hello my name is...

It’s so much easier to ask questions when you know who someone is and what they do. The Network supports people and services to take up the #hellomynameis campaign. The campaign was started by Dr Kate Granger following her own experiences as a patient. We encourage health and community workers to introduce themselves.

For more about Hello my name is...

Spot on 

“Spot On” is about finding, acknowledging and sharing what people and services are doing (big or small) to make it easier for people to find, understand and use information and services.

We invite you to let us know about anyone you think has hit the Spot by emailing

For more about Spot on

It's OK to Ask

Having the confidence to ask questions, find the information needed, and seek support are all important tools for people to have. Creating environments that are supportive and welcome questions is also key.
The 'It’s Ok to ask' resources have been co-developed with consumers.

For more about It's Ok to Ask

Why a Health Literacy Network?   


  • we share the goal that everyone communicates clearly
  • we know that we can only resolve the complicated issues affecting our health with a long-term coordinated approach that involves the whole community
  • we work in the same communities and sectors including education, health and busines
  • we can work together to raise awareness of literacy and health literacy issues
  • we can provide concrete tools to people and service providers in response to their needs
  • we know there is a positive ripple effect when one person or service provider improves their literacy and health literacy, and this spreads across families, communities and workplaces

Together we have a great opportunity to make a real difference for all Tasmanians.

For more information about health literacy visit: