Thursday, 6 June 2013

Channel 7's Today Tonight talks about non-functional literacy

Last night, Today Tonight in Melbourne, presented a story about the many adults in our community with non-functional literacy.

The new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics was cited. See the story from Channel 7 to gain some insight for mainstream Australian communities.

Preliminary findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics #4228, 2011-2012

-  44% of adult Australians has non-functional literacy. This equates to 7.3 million adults.
- For people aged 60 to 74 years, 65% have non-functional literacy and 71% have non-functional numeracy.
- Significant correlation with workforce participation, non-participation or unemployment and non functional literacy and numeracy.
For the first time literacy and numeracy in technology rich environments will be available when the final data is released in October 2013.

With significant non-functional literacy, there is certainly an opportunity for some people to engage in adult literacy learning classes. Some people though, may have attained their highest literacy and numeracy skill due to other reasons. Attaining and maintaining literacy is a life long learning skill, yet we all need to be able to access written information now. A parallel strategy is required. This involves re-developing information and documents to be easier to read and understand for the person with non-functional literacy. Think about
- signing a mortgage or lease agreement;
- signing a phone contract;
- reading weekly bills;
- reading appointment letters from doctors, government departments;
- interpreting and reading a map, including the index;
- using a train or bus timetable;
- reading community newsletters;
- understanding choices for medical intervention;
- understanding your rights and responsibilities;
- reading and understanding other legal documents, such as wills.

Can you think of other examples, when you need to be able to read and understand information now?

 Contact Cathy at for advice. Also visit the website for more information on Easy English.


Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2012. Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, Australia, 2011-2012#4228. Downloaded 15/03/2013

Channel 7 Melbourne. June 5, 2013, 6:18 pm Adult illiteracy. Jackie Quist Today Tonight
 "Australia is facing a hidden epidemic of adults who can't read or write, with many claiming they were failed by the education system." Downloaded 05/05/2013

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