Award winning article by Kasey Wilkins
Tasmania’s 26TEN is leading the nation in tackling adult literacy and numeracy rates, according to Director of Libraries Tasmania, Liz Jack.
The state-funded organisation works with schools, workplaces and communities to help Tasmanian adults improve their literacy and numeracy.
Half of Tasmanian adults lack the literacy and numeracy skills they need to fully engage in their everyday life.
“This means that for almost half of us, life is harder than it needs to be. It means that Tasmania is missing out on the full contribution of its people,” Ms Jack said.
TasCOSS CEO, Kym Goodes, said poverty is a major factor in Tasmania’s low literacy and numeracy rates.
"For families that have long-term entrenched and generational poverty, it is more likely they also have lower levels of educational attainment, and they will probably have a range of difficulties in terms of their literacy and numeracy.
"Poverty is all-encompassing, it's every fibre of your day," Ms Goodes said, adding that approximately 85,000 Tasmanians are currently living below the poverty line.
Ms Goodes described a vicious circle where literacy problems compounded poverty.
“If your parents can't read or write, it's less likely that you will attend school regularly."
She said it is never too late to learn and can make a difference for individuals and their families.
"We've seen whole families turn around once a parent is able to access support," said Ms Goodes.
26TEN participant Mark Enright dabbled on-and-off with programs before taking the plunge with 26TEN to improve his literacy.
Unlike other programs, 26TEN helped him to improve the literacy and numeracy he needed as his workplace moved forward into the digital era, he said.
"I needed to learn these skills so that I could provide for my family, so that they could learn these skills," he said. "They've found a better way to teach you, and they better understand what you need personally.”
Mr Enright said he was afraid of what others might think about how he struggled with reading.
But now he urges people to give 26TEN a go.
"If you just tell people, let them know, let them understand - they'll help you out."
Under their 10-year strategy, 26TEN aims to increase the number of adult Tasmanians with functional literacy and numeracy by 10 per cent.
This ambitious goal would place Tasmania above both the national average and ahead of most developed countries.
If you know someone who needs help with their literacy or numeracy, contact 26TEN on 1300 002 610 or find them online at 26ten.tas.gov.au
In 2017, Kasey Wilkins won the inaugural 26TEN UTAS Media Award. In 2018, she is a journalist with The Examiner in Launceston where she covers events and issues that are important to those living in Northern Tasmania and on the East Coast.
Kasey graduated with an Arts degree studying journalism, media, and communications and English at the University of Tasmania in 2017. In her last semester, she did an industry placement at The Examiner newspaper where she found her passion for print media.