"I'm a literacy coordinator and I work in a prison."
Iona Johnson is a literacy coordinator at Libraries Tasmania and she works at Risdon prison.
The Department of Education's, Together We Inspire Awards were held in September 2019. Iona won the 'Engaging our Learners: Adult award' for her passion and hard work in lifting skills in reading, writing and maths.
"My name's Iona Johnson. I'm the literacy coordinator for Libraries Tasmania and I work in a prison.
I work with inmates who have low literacy. Up to 80 per cent of them have literacy rates below functional. So the work that I do with inmates is a mixture of working with them one-to-one, setting them up to work with tutors, and doing some small group work, approaching the inmates with a high level of respect and in some ways I think that's what education offers in this environment.
That is a place that they can come, that will be safe, where they will be respected and where we do have something to offer them.
I think this is a challenging work environment in terms of working within the operational requirements of the prison, where the priorities are security and risk management and safety.
So, for me this has been an opportunity to do significant professional development. It's very much about holding a picture of hope and aspiration for the students that I work with, understanding that there are an enormous number of small steps they need to take, but each of those small steps is really significant and worthy of celebration along the way."