Zia's article - It's never to late to learn

​Award winning article by UTAS Media student Zia Sikora

It's never too late to learn

Reading bedtime stories to his kids is a simple pleasure that Hobart father Greg will never take for granted. Two years ago Greg, who has dyslexia, was among the one in two adult Tasmanians below a functional literacy level under the Australian Core Skills Framework.

“I used to be scared, I used to duck and dive and not do writing, send emails, look at signs, or find directions,” he said.

26TEN gave the former mechanic the literacy skills he needed to gain new employment.

“Because of an injury I couldn’t work with my hands anymore – I was a diesel mechanic so I needed my hands, and I couldn’t fall back on my second trade as a chef.”

It also helped the SES volunteer to start overcoming everyday challenges, such as reading storybooks with his children.

26TEN is working towards an ambitious 10 per cent improvement in Tasmanian adult literacy and numeracy rates by 2025, supported by Libraries Tasmania. The statewide initiative operates mainly through workplace partnerships, with government grants of up to $50,000 available to local communities and employers. Unlike traditional training programs, it offers ongoing, one-on-one tuition. Sessions are tailored to suit a learner’s real-life needs, from replying to an email, to writing an online job application or learning a new software system for work.

Huon Aquaculture executive Tony Baker connected employees with 26TEN services in previous roles at Southern Water and Houston’s Farm and is doing the same at the salmon-producing business.

Mr Baker said workplace safety and employee productivity benefited greatly from the program.

“There’s nothing better for 26TEN and its success than to have people like Greg, and his courage to come up and say, ‘This is a fantastic program, these are all the things I’ve learned,’ which just removes the stigma.”

Program manager Sue Costello said a “collective approach” to the problem “will make a difference in Tasmanians’ lives, in terms of their work, their family life and their social and community life.”

To find out more about 26TEN, call 1300 00 2610.

Zia Sikora won the 2018 26TEN UTAS Media Award for students from the University of Tasmania. Zia is an English and history double major and did a unit in journalism as part of her arts degree.

two females smiling

Award winner Zia Sikora with 26TEN UTAS Media award judge and ABC Newsreader and Journalist, Angela Ross.