26TEN Week is a time to celebrate the success of hard-working Tasmanians who are improving their literacy and numeracy skills. It's also a time to thank those volunteers, trainers, employers, colleagues and friends who support them. Importantly, 26TEN Week is also a time to reflect adn this year more so than ever, because we are at the mid-point of 26TEN Tasmania: Tasmania's strategy for adult literacy and numeracy 2016-2025.
Work and daily life now demand stronger literacy and numeracy skills. They are the skills of the lifelong learner, necessary to help us keep up, adapt and respond to change at work and in our families and communities. It is not good enough that forty-eight per cent of Tasmanians do not have these skills. While all Australian states and territories have a similar problem, the difference is that we have the 26TEN Tasmania Strategy, a comprehensive and collaborative plan for tackling this persistent social problem.
The review, 26TEN in 2020 - How far we've come as a state towards better adult literacy and numeracy in Tasmania, and what we've learned, shows that the Strategy is working. Today the 26TEN network of businesses, communities and government organisations, and individuals working together has over 960 members. Fifty-five employer and community grants, valued at over $2.3 million have been awarded. More than 1300 people have volunteered and completed training to be adult literacy tutors and 90 per cent of adults who have been supported by Libraries Tasmania – a 26TEN member – say they have improved their quality of life.
Building on the success of our collaborative, place-based approach
The Review includes recommendations for the future. Importantly, we have learned that results are best achieved in communities where people and organisations collaborate to provide practical solutions for people where they live and work, and this takes time. We are looking at new ways in which we can provide longer-term support.
Disappointingly, stigma around low literacy is still high. It's important to challenge the myth that equates low literacy with low intelligence and encourage people to come forward to ask for help.
The Review also reinforces that when Tasmanians improve their literacy and numeracy skills, there are far reaching benefits for all of us. If we are to be the resilient, prosperous state we aspire to be, then we need everyone to be able to participate at work, in the community and at home. There is clear evidence that when people are supported to build their skills, they improve their own lives, and their achievements create a ripple effect – a positive impact – for all of us.
Thank you to the many businesses, communities, local governments and the 26TEN volunteers who have committed so much of their time and passion to helping us improve literacy and numeracy in Tasmania. It is working together that makes the difference. We are building on what we have learned and will continue this long-term effort in the years to come.
If you or someone you know would like help with reading, writing or maths, call 1300 00 2610