State Library takes the lead on literacy

Wednesday 19 July 2017

The State Library of Western Australia has released its ten year Literacy Strategy aimed at meeting the promise for all Western Australians to have the literacy they need for living and learning.

  • State Library launches Literacy Matters, the ­State Library of Western Australia’s Literacy Strategy.
  • Aiming to improve literacy outcomes through collaboration and partnerships.

Literacy Matters: State Library of Western Australia Literacy Strategy 2017-2027  was developed in consultation with  key players in Western Australia’s literacy landscape including the Department of Education, Rio Tinto, The Smith Family, The Fogarty Foundation, Public Libraries WA and Read Write Now. It focuses on collaboration and connection between existing services, and highlights the need for a collaborative approach across Government, the private sector, not for profit organisations and the community to take Western Australia forward. 

The State Library will champion the critical role of libraries in partnership with the range of State-wide, cross-sector organisations involved in the provision of literacy programs and services.

Chief Executive Officer and State Librarian, Margaret Allen acknowledged the Government, private sector and not for profit community collaborators for their commitment to the development of a shared State-wide strategy to improve literacy outcomes for all Western Australians.

“Through working together we can take steps to address the literacy challenges faced by our community and provide a whole of life approach” Ms Allen said.

“The ability to read and write underpins everything we do - everyday. We need to start developing literacy skills from birth to be successful at school, to continue learning through life and reach our full potential, to be productive workers and active and informed citizens. Yet 47 per cent of working aged (15 – 64 years) Western Australians do not have the literacy and essential skills needed to meet the demands of everyday life and work” Ms Allen said.

“Literacy has traditionally been the ability to read and write, however, access to information and technology requires the development of other literacies, like digital literacy, to meet the demands of 21st century living, regardless of social and economic circumstances. The State Library and the public library network have done much to support early and family literacy, particularly through the very successful Better Beginnings program. Literacy Matters builds on the unique role and contribution of libraries to ensure there is a more coordinated approach to literacy across the State.” Ms Allen said.

At the release of the Strategy, fellow collaborators spoke of the importance of the State Library taking the lead in developing and supporting programs delivered through the public library network.   Jorgen Mackie from The Smith Family spoke about the profound economic and social impact of poor literacy and the need to make changes to address this through education and community service provision.

Robyn Knight of Read Write Now emphasised the importance of the special literacy programs that help people who for many reasons enter adulthood with limited literacy skills. Joseph Boundy, a businessman, grandfather and graduate of the Read Write Now program provided a personal story of confrontation and humility when asked by his grandchild to read a bedtime story. With the help of Read Right Now, Joseph has met that challenge and is now training for his pilot’s licence.

Joseph’s story brings home the real value of a Literacy Strategy for all Western Australians.

Fact File

  • Literacy Matters: State Library of Western Australia Literacy Strategy 2017 – 2027 was developed in response to consultation and reported findings from the Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research.
  • The State Library of Western Australia will lead a strategy which builds on the wealth of library experience across the State to support three goals for all Western Australians;
  • Are aware of the value of literacy in opening up life- long potential;
  • Have the opportunity to improve their literacy; and
  • Have access to literacy learning programs.
  • When formed, the Literacy Alliance will develop a five year plan against the goals and strategies which will include a coordinated approach to address gaps in service provision.
  • The Literacy Alliance will develop an evaluation framework to measure improvement in literacy over the course of the ten year strategy.
  • Organisations who have contributed to the development of Literacy Matters:

Adult Learning Australia, Australian Library Information Association, Association of Independent Schools WA, Community Adult Literacy Foundation, Department of Regional Development, Department of Education, Department of Training and Workforce Development, Outcare, Public Libraries WA, Read Write Now, Rio Tinto, Save the Children WA, South Metropolitan TAFE, The Fogarty Foundation, The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, The Smith Family, WA Adult Literacy Council, WA Primary Principals Association, WA School Library Association, North Metropolitan TAFE,  Children's Book Council of Australia (WA), Community Adult Literacy Foundation, Community Development Network, David Wirrapanda Foundation, Department of Premier & Cabinet, Department of Corrective Services (Education & Vocational training unit), Early Childhood Australia, Independent Education Union, Kart Koort Wiern, Linkwest, Local Government Managers Association, Lotterywest, Metro Migrant Resource Centre, NGALA, Office of Multicultural Interests, Playgroup WA, South Metropolitan TAFE, SMYL Community Services, State School Teachers Union of WA, Unions WA, WA Council of Social Services, Western Australian Local Government Association, Westralian Association for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. 

  • Literacy Matters can be accessed here  
Last updated on: 1 September 2017