The ability to read and write underpins everything we do, every day. Reading and writing with accuracy, fluency and confidence enables us to be productive, informed and engaged, and to actively participate in an increasingly complex, digitally connected society. A literate community is strong and inclusive, where individuals and families are informed, aspirational, engaged, healthy and connected.
Literacy in Australia
In Western Australia, 19% of five year old children are developmentally vulnerable or at risk in their language and cognitive skills (Australian Early Development Census, 2018).
While Australia has a higher than average number of people with excellent levels of literacy proficiency, there remain significant proportions of the adult population whose literacy skills are poor. Nationwide, 12.6% of adults struggle to paraphrase or form low level inferences, and a further 31% cannot interpret lengthy or dense texts (OECD PIACC, 2013).
This affects their ability to successfully read, navigate and complete a range of texts they could expect to interact with daily, such as complex forms, newspapers, contracts and multi-step instructions.
Who are we?
The Western Australian Literacy Alliance is a collaboration of government and non-government organisations providing services and resources to support the ongoing development of literacy for all Western Australians.
Our aim is to achieve the goals of the State Library of Western Australia’s literacy strategy, Literacy Matters, through the implementation of our Action Plan.
The Alliance’s primary focus is on the ongoing development of reading and writing, which forms the foundation of higher level literacy skills. Our vision is to ensure that all Western Australians appreciate the value of literacy for learning and living throughout life and are able to access literacy related programs, services and resources.
The State Library of Western Australia is the backbone organisation of the Alliance and is proud to take a leadership position in championing the role of libraries in the ongoing development and maintenance of literacy for all Western Australians.
The toolkits were created with input and feedback from public libraries and will be reviewed and developed in collaboration with public libraries.
Five working groups have been created to progress the actions of the literacy strategy, Literacy Matters. The working groups are comprised of members of the Literacy Alliance, as well as other people working in the literacy space.
The aim of this working group is to identify literacy programs that can be supported to become examples of best practice. While the remit for this working group is birth to 15 years, our current focus is on children aged 5-11. We have recently undertaken a mapping of library literacy programs for this age range, with a goal of creating guiding principles to assist public libraries and other literacy service providers with their planning for programs and services.
Members are from the Department of Education, City of Mandurah libraries, WA Primary Principals Association, Think Childcare Ltd, The Smith Family and the State Library.
This working group strives to improve literacy related services for young people. It seeks to better understand what prevents some young people from connecting with services which might help them improve their literacy skills. It also plans to develop and trial new literacy services, once it is understood what young people need, want and are able to access.
Current members include the Fogarty Foundation, Dyslexia-SPELD Foundation and State Library.
Literacy and the correctional system
The primary objective of this group is to support the literacy needs of prisoners and their families as they transition back into mainstream society. Opportunities for collaboration with several prisons are being pursued.
Members are from City of Melville libraries, the Department of Training and Workforce Development, the Department of Justice, Curtin AHEAD, Soroptimists International South Perth, Read Write Now, Outcare and the State Library.
Key objectives of the Literacy Alliance include the cross-promotion of existing literacy related services and resources delivered by Alliance members and promotion of the importance of literacy to the public. This working group will pursue these objectives through forums celebrating literacy success stories and providing access to a broad suite of literacy related resources, services and events, to service providers as well as the general public.
Members of this group include the City of Perth Library, Read Write Now, the Australian Library and Information Association and the State Library.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
This working group aims to collaborate with organisations working with Western Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the literacy space. A partnership is being pursued with NSW Aboriginal not for profit organisation, Literacy for Life Foundation, to pilot their highly successful Yes I Can program in Western Australia. Karratha or Roebourne are potential locations for the pilot, which may lead to a program that can be rolled out to other remote communities.
Current members of the group include the Polly Farmer Foundation, the Department of Education and the State Library.