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Never too late - for adult literacy

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J m MEDIA RELEASE DR DAVID KEMP, MR Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs K3404 21 April 1999


The team that made comedy shows. Full Frontal and Fast Forward top-rating successes, have turned their talents to improving adult literacy, following the launch in Sydney today of an innovative TV series to be used by TAFEs and private training providers Australia wide.

Launching The Never Too Late Show, Dr Kemp said the series would take a humorous approach to helping some o f the 47 per cent (ABS literacy survey 1997) of Australians aged between 1 5 - 7 4 who experience difficulty with everyday printed materials.

“English language and literacy skills are not only essential in the work environment, but they are also vital for full and effective participation in everyday life. Practical applications of literacy like reading a bus timetable or being able to vote are things that many of us take for granted,” said Dr Kemp.

“When adults lack the ability to read and write this can have an enormous impact on all aspects of family life from the simple enjoyment of being able to read to your children, through to being able to fill out job application forms, read newspapers and take advantage of basic citizenship rights.”

The Never Too Late Show, was written and produced by Artist Services, has been developed by NSW TAPE with funding from the Commonwealth and will be available through TAPE colleges and public libraries throughout Australia.

Consisting of 10 half-hour episodes The Never Too Late Show will be screened on SBS at 4.30pm on Wednesdays commencing April 21. A workbook is being produced to accompany the series and copies of the video will also be available.

“This series is one of a number of Commonwealth initiatives which aim to improve the literacy skills of all Australians,” said Dr Kemp.

Literacy and Numeracy are a key focus of Commonwealth education policy. Currently there are a range of literacy and numeracy initiatives which include:

• The National Literacy and Numeracy Plan with the goal that every child leaving primary school would be literate and numerate, and be able to read, write and spell at an appropriate level. It was agreed that as part o f the plan that every child commencing school from 1998 will achieve a minimum acceptable literacy and numeracy standard within four years. Tire Commonwealth Government has allocated $680 million over four years from 1998 to help achieve these goals.

• The Workplace English Language and Literacy Programme (WELL) targets workers who are unable to receive training or are at risk of losing their jobs because of their low literacy skills. This year the Commonwealth has provided $11.7 million for this programme. Most of these funds will go directly to workplaces where the literacy training is integrated into other

vocational training. In addition to improving their literacy skills workers benefit by gaining a vocational certificate.

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• The Mutual Obligation Literacy Numeracy Training Programme provides $139 million over 4 years to train 18-24 year old job seekers who are assessed as having low literacy skills.

• The Commonwealth Government provides $7 million annually to the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) for a range of adult literacy programmes in the community.

• The Reading Writing Hotline referral and support service is another Commonwealth initiative which has been provided for DETYA by TAPE NSW, through the Adult Literacy Information Office since 1994. The number is: 1300 655 506

Callers (who number around 300 a week on average) are referred either to local classes, distance education or to the Reading Writing Roadshow, which is continuously screened by the ABC and enables viewers to work on their literacy skills at home. From today they will also be referred to The Never Too Late Show.

The Government is strongly committed to making sure that through these initiatives every Australian is able to reach their full potential and is fully equipped to meet the workplace demands of the 2151 Century.

Media contact: Samantha Herron 02 6277 7460 or 0412 639 754