Just like 26TEN’s campaign for adult literacy, helping our fellow Tasmanians was at the heart of the Chatter Matters Literacy Symposium held at Government House in November last year. The Symposium demonstrated the desire of many Tasmanians to come to grips with literacy and all its complexities.

You may have heard that almost half of all adult Tasmanians struggle with reading and writing. Even more struggle with everyday maths. Think of what that might be like when you next fill in a form, do your banking or go grocery shopping. Think about the impact low literacy might have on you, your family, workplace or community.

It’s vital that we discuss adult literacy. Raising skill levels will have a positive impact on our state because the more literate a community is, the more productive, healthy and prosperous it is. Better literacy and numeracy means a better Tasmania for all.

That is why it is important that we all aspire for every Tasmanian to get the literacy skills needed in this modern world. We all need to be part of the solution, because governments, educators, academics, businesses, communities, families and friends can’t do it on their own.

Across Australia, all states and territories face a similar problem, but in Tasmania there is a momentum growing for better literacy and numeracy for all. Participants in the recent Chatter Matters Communicating: The Heart of Literacy symposium demonstrated that a group of Tasmanians with diverse experience and skills can work together to tackle literacy and come up with solutions for change.

One such solution is 26TEN, an innovative, state wide, long-term strategy to lift adult literacy and numeracy.

How can Tasmanians take action on literacy?

Start a conversation with someone about why literacy is important to our state.

Find out more about 26TEN and then speak to someone you know about adult literacy. Listen to their response. Create a shared understanding of the importance of good literacy skills for the economic and social fabric of Tasmania. Talk with your colleagues, family members or friends. It is important we reduce the stigma surrounding the lack of literacy skills if we are to get people to come forward and ask for help.

Have the 26TEN Chat with someone who needs help

Have you noticed a colleague, client, friend or family member having trouble with literacy, but you don’t know how to help? 26TEN has developed a new guide called the 26TEN Chat. It suggests how to have a conversation to encourage someone to seek help. The Chat is a web based five-step guide that gives you the confidence to encourage someone with low literacy to call 26TEN on 1300 002 610.  

A little encouragement from you may be all someone needs to make a difference in their life.

The 26TEN Chat is also a great resource for organisations to use in induction or training packages. It helps you or your staff to have a conversation with a colleague or client. That conversation could be life-changing.

Build your skills to help build the skills of others

Part of the 26TEN approach is to encourage all Tasmanians who have reading, writing or maths skills to help those who don’t.

I encourage you to take action by helping someone in your community. No one person, government or organisation can hope to provide the skills required for the number of adults who need help. The demand is too great and the individual support required too varied.

Imagine if everyone helped in our workplaces, schools, families and communities. You could be part of the solution by volunteering at your local school, library, community organisation or favourite charity or by specialising as a literacy and numeracy practitioner.

Real change will happen when we all help.

Helping our fellow Tasmanians is at the heart of 26TEN

Our challenge is formidable, but if we work together, then we will see our conversations move to the change we all aspire to. You can take action in a way that works for you, because literacy and numeracy touches all aspects of our daily lives. 26TEN members or our grant recipients such as Chatter Matters, Libraries Tasmania, TasTAFE, Metro, Bunnings, OAK Possability, Huon Aquaculture, Duggan’s Construction, Houston’s Farm, Smith Family, TasCOSS and Metro are all just a few of the exemplary organisations being part of the literacy solution in their own way. So can you.

Getting connected and working together with that single focus of ultimately 100 per cent literacy for Tasmania can be challenging, but it will make all the difference.

Find out more

It takes a long-term effort by us all to make change. Working together on this journey will benefit all Tasmanians. If you want to get involved in helping adults and being part of one solution, 26TEN Tasmania: Tasmania’s Strategy for Adult Literacy and Numeracy 2015-2026 is worth a closer look: www.26TEN.tas.gov.au.

Let’s not forget that helping our fellow Tasmanians is at the heart of this campaign. We know it can be done. Take a moment to read or listen to the many stories on the 26TEN website and the positive benefits of lifting people’s skills has made to their lives.

All anybody needs is a little encouragement. So I encourage you to be a part of it all.

Sue Costello is the Manager of 26TEN and was an attendee at the Communicating: The Heart of Literacy symposium in November 2018.