26TEN Tasmania: Tasmania’s strategy for adult literacy & numeracy 2016-2025

2018 Progress Report

The 26TEN Strategy provides a framework that engages people and organisations across Tasmania to work together to achieve 26TEN’s goals:

  1. Everyone knows about adult literacy and numeracy.
  2. Everyone is supported to improve their skills and help others
  3. Everyone communicates clearly.

Each year, 26TEN reports against these goals, and on targets and priorities contained in the 26TEN Tasmania Strategy for adult literacy & numeracy 2016-2025 and, the 26TEN Tasmania Strategy Action Plan 2018-2020.

2018 Snapshot

In 2018, 26TEN increased efforts to build the ability of all Tasmanians to take action on adult literacy and numeracy. We did this by:

Goal 1

Everyone knows about adult literacy and numeracy

Building awareness of adult literacy and numeracy issues

When people understand the challenges that low literacy and numeracy skills present for almost half of all adult Tasmanians, they are more prepared to do something about it. That is why Goal 1 remains a priority for 26TEN and we are making strong headway.

A survey in May 2018, showed 26TEN is making progress in ensuring people know where to go for help. People in target 26TEN communities were twice as likely to nominate their local library as the place to go for support, as compared to 2017 state-wide data.

Jon Kudelka’s animation about the challenge of low adult literacy in Tasmania was broadcast to over 150 000 people via television advertising and social media at its launch in May.

The most popular image from the animation is a mother reading to her child. Being able to read to a child is a common goal that motivates people to ask for help.

For the second year, 26TEN raised awareness amongst future journalists through a prize for the best article written by a UTAS media student about adult literacy. Students attended a mock media event highlighting the changing requirements for literacy in the workplace. Zia Sikora had her winning article published in the Mercury and was interviewed on ABC Radio.

We highlighted the range of ways the 26TEN Network supports adult learners on an ABC news report in October. It showed how a course run by 26TEN members, Bunnings and Glenorchy Library, called Maths for DIY, had built the confidence of participants and made maths practical. It also showed how adult learner, Dylan, had benefitted from support to improve his reading, writing and maths to be able to run his own landscaping business.

In 26TEN Week this year, Tasmanians celebrated the power of adult literacy and numeracy to change lives. The theme was celebrating ‘life changers’: those who have lifted their skills in reading, writing and maths and those who have helped them along the way. Dozens of events were held across the State to promote adult literacy and numeracy. On 26 October, over 50 grant recipients from across Tasmania were recognised at Government House for their efforts to improve their skills. These life changers were supported by their organisations present on the day, such as Duggans, Metro, Starting Point Neighbourhood House, Launceston Migrant Resource Centre, JBS Meats, TasTAFE and Work & Training.

The 26TEN Coalition takes action

Through their action plans, the 26TEN Coalition continued to encourage Tasmanian leaders, organisations and individuals to support the goals of 26TEN. Target sectors such as legal, education, health, local government and the community sector increased their engagement and collaboration. For example, in the education sector, 155 school business administrators in public and independent schools across Tasmania received guidance on how to refer parents with low literacy and numeracy for support.

In February 2018, independent economist Saul Eslake attended a Coalition meeting to discuss the economic and social impact of low literacy and numeracy levels. The meeting discussed the higher literacy and numeracy skills needed to participate in modern life and its impact on health, employment, prosperity and wellbeing. Eslake acknowledged the important role 26TEN has played in reducing the stigma around low literacy and numeracy, giving people a better chance of getting the skills they need to fully participate in modern society.

26TEN is recognised nationally

26TEN continued to raise national awareness of the importance of adult literacy and numeracy, contributing to a broader discussion on raising education and skill levels in Australia. Tasmania’s trail-blazing role in this area continued to gain national recognition.

Making his vote count – Ian’s story

Ian struggled with literacy. He had to find someone to read words to him, but he wanted to read them for himself.

“I wanted to learn words and read more,” said Ian.

He saw an advert on the television that offered help with reading, writing and numbers.

“I called the number, because I wanted to learn.”

Ian was referred to 26TEN member, Libraries Tasmania, where he met literacy coordinator, Kerrie Blyth.

“Ian was very keen to learn and I had a chat to him about it,” said Kerrie.

“Then, I matched him with a volunteer literacy tutor, who met with Ian each week. They worked hard together and Ian has really come along way.”

One of Ian’s goals was to vote in the State Election.

“I have always voted by going to the polling place and getting my name crossed off,” he said.

“Then I took my voting paper and because

I did not understand or know anything about the people on the paper, I just put crosses anywhere.”

With help from his tutor, Jan, Ian learned about the candidates.

“I worked with my tutor to read all the pamphlets, I got in my mail box and to find out what they [the candidate] had done in my area, so I knew who I wanted to vote for,” he said.

“I made my vote count.”

Making his vote count – Ian’s story

Goal 2

Everyone is supported to improve their skills and to help others

Supporting service providers to take action

Motivating people to take action is a key theme identified in the 26TEN Action Plan 2018-2020. In early 2018, the 26TEN Coalition identified the need to develop a campaign and resources to help Tasmanians have a conversation with people who need to lift their reading, writing and maths skills. They identified the importance of working with the service providers who come in contact with people with low literacy and who would use the resources to develop them, to ensure they are practical and will be used.

26TEN consulted with a broad range of Tasmanians to develop what will become known as the 26TEN Chat resources. These include a website and videos demonstrating how to have a conversation and refer to literacy services. The resources will be launched in February 2019, making it easier for Tasmanians to help others take action to improve their skills.

Literacy support makes a difference

During 2018, 26TEN members who provide literacy support helped change the lives of thousands of Tasmanians by improving their literacy and numeracy skills. People received this support through Libraries Tasmania, Registered Training Organisations, TasTAFE, community service providers and community groups.

As a key member, the Libraries Tasmania Literacy Service provided tailored literacy and numeracy support to 1119 Tasmanians in 2017-18 with positive outcomes including increased skills and confidence. The service was supported by over 389 volunteers who gave up their time to support 26TEN goals.

26TEN Grants – lifting skills at work and in communities

People also raised their skills in their workplace through the 26TEN grants program. Twelve organisations received grants in 2017-2018 helping hundreds of employees with low literacy become better skilled for their work roles. Many organisations also took the opportunity to use clearer communication to help all employees better understand work requirements and processes.

The Nepali-speaking Bhutanese Launceston Community became the newest 26TEN community supported through a 26TEN grant. They join Burnie, Circular Head, the Derwent Valley, the Huon Valley, Break O’Day and Glenorchy in working as communities to achieve 26TEN goals.

Building skills in adult literacy practitioners

The 26TEN Adult Literacy Workforce Development Reference Group met quarterly during 2018. The group comprises literacy service providers from across the state who come together to strengthen this sector so that all people can get the help they need, when and where they need it. One way they hope to achieve this is by developing an adult literacy and numeracy workforce plan for Tasmania.

The workforce of over 100 literacy and numeracy practitioners – independent contractors and staff of RTOs, Libraries Tasmania and TasTAFE – benefited from 26TEN professional development activities in 2018 to improve their capability to help others.

Member activities throughout the year helped people gain skills and confidence in reading, writing, maths and oral communication. The almost 100 literacy stories collected in in 2018 demonstrate the impact of 26TEN Network members across Tasmania.

Asking for help – the 26TEN helpline 1300 002 610

In December 2018, to ensure the best possible literacy outcomes for callers to the 26TEN helpline, the answering of calls to the helpline was transferred from Service Tasmania to the national Reading Writing Hotline (RWH).

The staff at RWH are experienced adult literacy practitioners who have time and the expertise to engage with callers. They also have the ability to refer to a wider range of Tasmanian literacy services.

The 26TEN helpline number remains the same.

Case Study

Building skills at the West Tamar Council

Building skills at the West Tamar Council with a 26TEN Grant

Employees at the West Tamar Council benefited from building their literacy and numeracy skills as part of a project funded by a 26TEN grant.

A review conducted in 2017 showed that some employees struggled with everyday reading, writing and maths tasks and that had an impact on their understanding of workplace information.

The grant funded Deb Guntrip, Literacy Numeracy Specialist Teacher at TasTAFE, to works with employees at the Council to lift their skills.

Some people are apprehensive about their ability to learn, so Deb worked with them one-on-one, to take away that anxiety by showing them the commonly used strategies to help read, write and spell.

The result has been a work environment that is now safer and more productive. Employees are better able to solve problems. They have also reported that their improved skills make a difference at home too. For example, they can share stories with their children, help with homework, read for enjoyment, and better understand financial and legal documents.

West Tamar Council

Goal 3

Everyone communicates clearly

26TEN members continued to embrace the need for clear communication in workplaces, community groups and government. In 2018, 26TEN ran 35 plain English workshops with over 370 participants from a wide range of organisations across the State.

In their action plans, many 26TEN members have committed to using more plain English in their workplace communications. State Government agencies used more plain English, training their staff in plain English writing and re-writing public documents. The Tasmanian departments of Premier and Cabinet, Health and Human Services, and Justice and the Australian Taxation Office, were particularly active adopters of plain English.

26TEN Network member organisations such as Metro Tasmania, the Magistrates Court and Huon Aquaculture led the way in revising organisational documents for their staff and service users.

26TEN continued to support organisations in their use of clear communication, improving plain English training materials and workshops.

Case Study

Making bus travel easier – Metro Tasmania, 26TEN and plain English

26TEN supported Metro Tasmania to make bus travel easier by editing customer information to make it as clear as possible.

Metro Tasmania CEO Megan Morse said Metro constantly looks for ways to improve its service, and most recently updated the Greencard application form, reducing seven steps to four.

“As a 26TEN member since 2013, we understand how literacy can be a challenge in accessing services, and aim to help more people understand the bus by using simple language.”

Metro has worked with 26TEN to simplify timetables, forms, on board information, and signs. Employees have been trained in using plain English, and what to do when passengers need extra help.

“We’re also proud to play a role in raising awareness of how 26TEN can help with reading, writing and maths by displaying posters on our buses state-wide” Ms Morse said.

Metro Tasmania

Better literacy and numeracy,
means a better Tasmania for all.