Reading Writing Hotline proposes national literacy policy

In preparation for CCA’s upcoming 2021 National ACE Summit, CCA is reviewing the contributions from major organisations working in foundation skills (literacy, language, numeracy, digital and employability) and aged care. Below is a summary of the submission by the Reading Writing Hotline – the national Commonwealth-funded adult literacy referral service – to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the importance of adult literacy. You can download the full submission (number 44) from the Parliamentary Committee website.

In summary, the Hotline says that Australia faces the following challenges, with:

  • no coordinated national adult literacy policy;
  • lack of diversity of provision types, including distance learning;
  • lack of a specialist qualified adult literacy workforce;
  • a narrow focus on programs and curriculum for jobseekers;
  • limited workplace literacy provision;
  • a lack of provision for Indigenous learners in rural & remote areas;
  • no national adult literacy information hub to provide advice, resources, professional development and specialist policy advice; and
  • reliance on short term funding, with ongoing “churn” of both providers and courses.


The Hotline’s submission recommends:

  1. Develop a National literacy policy to:
  • establish a broad-based advisory group representing all sectors including teachers and researchers, to ensure policy is robust, sustainable and meets current challenges, reflecting international best practice and models in use elsewhere;
  • ensure policy addresses particular needs of Indigenous Australians and people with disabilities; and
  • re-establish an adult literacy information office providing resources, advice to government, industry and the literacy sector, and professional development for teachers.
  1. Rebuild the literacy/numeracy workforce to:
  • develop and implement a plan to build the teaching workforce via a range of strategies, with sufficient lead-time to allow universities to plan and re-establish programs;
  • mandate specialist graduate-level qualifications for all Commonwealth funded programs including SEE;
  • reintroduce mandated specialist graduate-level qualifications for teaching Foundation Studies Training Package curriculum;
  • build capacity in regional and remote areas through a range of strategies including scholarships, mentoring, and pathway qualifications;
  • support the research and design of national professional development programs (both accredited and unaccredited) to support upskilling of current teachers to meet new higher standard and to update their professional practice;
  • make scholarships available for specialist postgraduate qualifications; and
  • restore specialist qualifications such as TAE80113 to VET student loans list.
  1. Support diversity of provision to:
  • ensure funding and curriculum addresses both accredited and non-accredited, formal and non-formal training, and the needs of non-jobseekers, including part time and evening classes;
  • review SEE guidelines to enable greater flexibility in attendance and progress, more support for those with ‘no capacity to benefit’ including funding for non-accredited courses; and
  • focus on development of pathway courses that build literacy and numeracy skills for those unable to access VET courses.
  1. Support workplace literacy to:
  • Expand Foundation Skills for Your Future program. Fund employers to support LLND in the workplace by releasing individuals during working hours;
  • Make funding available for all individual employees wishing to improve their workplace LLN;
  • fund employers to provide local classes for potential First Nations employees in remote locations who require pre- employment and on-the-job LLN; and
  • source and collate legacy learning materials from former WELL (Workplace English Language & Literacy) program for specific industry areas.
  1. Implement a national distance adult literacy scheme to:
  • design a consistent national approach managed by an established not-for-profit RTO, in preference to leaving each state to design and deliver their own in a piecemeal fashion; and
  • ensure distance programs offer paper-based programs at all levels as well as online learning, to ensure all cohorts are included.
  1. Establish a specific funded program for remote Indigenous learners to:
  • implement an appropriate, quality program to meet the needs of Indigenous EALD learners, which will embrace the principles of Indigenous voice co-design, ‘both-ways learning’, and bilingualism where appropriate.

Download a copy of CCA’s submission to the Parliamentary Literacy Inquiry here.

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