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2004 Minister's Awards for outstanding contribution to literacy and numeracy.

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Media Release


25 August 2004 MIN 893/04

Five exceptional individuals were honoured this morning at the prestigious 2004 Minister’s Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Improving Literacy and/or Numeracy.

Each of these “literacy and numeracy champions” has demonstrated a passionate commitment and a major contribution to the development of literacy and/or numeracy in their community and will receive $10,000 to further enhance the important work they are undertaking.

The winners of the Awards are:

● Ms Yvonne Clarke, from UnitingCare, Burnside, NSW; for her work with children in

Out of Home care; ● Ms Margaret McCallum, for her voluntary work with the Bright Adult Education

Inc., Victoria and her innovative mobile literacy programme; ● Mr Alistair McIntosh, formerly of the University of Tasmania; for the profound

impact his research has had on numeracy teaching and learning; ● Ms Anja Tait, music educator and therapist, for her research into the effect of an

arts based curriculum on fostering students’ literacy and numeracy skills; and ● Ms Jenness Warin, Workplace English Language and Literacy tutor, for her work

with the Homelands people of East Arnhemland.

I congratulate the five winners and thank them for their work, which in every way changes the lives of those they help. Literacy and numeracy skills are fundamental for participation in the personal, economic and civic aspects of our society. Commitment to improving literacy and numeracy is also a commitment to improving the life opportunities for all Australians.

These Awards, now in their second year, are open to people working in a wide variety of literacy and numeracy forums from early childhood through to schools and adult education. They are an integral part of National Literacy and Numeracy Week (NLNW) which runs from 30 August to 5 September, with a range of exciting activities and events taking place across the country.

Detailed profiles of the winners are attached.

Further information on NLNW is available at:

Media Contacts: Dr Nelson’s Office: Ross Hampton 0419 484 095 Dept of Education, Science & Training: Laila Lacis 0412 040 034

Attachment A

2004 Minister’s Awards Winners and Profiles Yvonne Clarke from New South Wales, is the Manager of the Education Programme at UnitingCare Burnside, in Western Sydney.

Since the early 1990s Ms Clarke has demonstrated great leadership, dedication and commitment to improve the life chances of children in Out of Home Care (OOHC) through developing their literacy and numeracy skills. Between 1996 and 2002, 230 children and young people in foster or residential homes received educational support through this programme.

Ms Clarke has been instrumental in the establishment of literacy and numeracy study centres, preschooler literacy classes, after-school literacy and numeracy lessons for school-aged students and literacy classes for adults and Spanish speakers.

Ms Clarke also works with parents in her role as Manager for the Burnside Family Learning Centre at Ermington. Established in 1984, this Centre offers tutoring to disadvantaged school children experiencing difficulties in developing literacy and numeracy skills from nine local primary schools. Parents participate to support their child’s study at home and can also join in adult literacy classes.

Ms Clarke’s activities over the past 24 years have spread well beyond her immediate community. She is committed to developing creative strategies to improve the educational outcomes of children in OOHC and to keep the needs of these children visible within Government policies and directions. Her expertise and success in helping children in OOHC is recognised internationally.

Ms Clarke was nominated by Ms Lindy Mondy who is a teacher and colleague at UnitingCare Burnside. She will use the award money to develop resources for caseworkers and school staff, trainee teachers and statutory child protection workers around Australia.

Margaret McCallum from Victoria is the Voluntary Adult Literacy Coordinator and Literacy Tutor with Bright Adult Education Inc. and has provided training for volunteer tutors, assessed students’ literacy levels, matched tutors and students and also provided tutoring herself.

Recognising the difficulties that people in isolated rural communities were having accessing the literacy services they needed, she developed the ‘Words on Wheels’ (WOW) project - a 2 year pilot providing a mobile literacy tutoring service to rural communities. This service continues to deliver literacy programs throughout the Alpine Shire, from Myrtleford to Harrietville, from Bright to Mt Beauty in Victoria.

In 2003 the success of the Words on Wheels project was recognised through the Victorian Adult Community and Further Education‘s Most Outstanding Program Award for the State of Victoria.

Through her enthusiasm and tireless voluntary work, Ms McCallum has been able to gain the support of the community to ensure that the literacy needs of the local population are appropriately met.

Ms McCallum was nominated by Mrs Linda Meighan, Coordinator of Bright Adult Education Inc. She will use the award money to expand the Words on Wheels programme to provide expert training for volunteer tutors, specific courses for dyslexic students and a return to study program for adults forced to change jobs or wishing to upgrade their qualifications.

Alistair McIntosh from Tasmania, now retired, has been researching numeracy teaching and learning for over 30 years. He has established an international reputation for his work with students and teachers, particularly in the areas of mental computation and number sense.

Mr McIntosh worked in the UK and Western Australia before taking up the post of Associate Professor at the University of Tasmania (1999-2003). He was instrumental in developing a culture of leadership for numeracy in Tasmania and had a profound influence on teaching practices in schools.

His research has challenged teachers, schools and policy makers to think differently about numeracy and the way it is learnt, leading to improved student outcomes in numeracy across the state. These findings have lead to changes in teaching practices and improvements in students’ levels of achievement in mathematics. His dedication, commitment and enthusiasm in working with schools and teachers ensured his research was put into classroom practice.

Other projects Mr McIntosh has been involved in include: Thinking and Working Mathematically; Developing Computation; Assessing and Improving the Mental Computation of School Aged Students; and the Quality Teacher Programme.

He was nominated by Ms Denise Neal, a State Co-ordinator in Numeracy and colleague and will use the Award money to build on the outcomes of the Thinking and Working Mathematically project.

Anja Tait from the Northern Territory is a musician, music educator and music therapist who has developed an arts-based approach to the teaching of literacy and numeracy.

Over the past twenty years she has been committed to exploring the connections between the arts and literacy and numeracy skills acquisition.

Since 2002, Ms Tait has worked on ‘Music for Learning for Life’, an innovative research project funded by the Australia Council of the Arts. This school-level project focuses on Indigenous upper-primary students and integrates intensive music education with literacy and numeracy teaching and learning. The programme’s model of shared planning, team-teaching and evaluation promotes reflection, improves specialist skills and knowledge and enhances student/teacher relationships.

She has also played a leading role as a Northern Territory Music School Advisory Support team member. Recent initiatives include: the development of urban and remote Indigenous communities programmes using music and the performing arts to teach literacy and numeracy skills; the delivery of professional teacher learning workshops; and promoting connections between the arts community and education agencies.

Programme outcomes include improved reading achievement, enhanced self esteem, increased attendance and high levels of engagement for the Year 6/7 Indigenous

students, especially the boys.

In 2004, project schools have embedded that the arts-based approach in their Literacy and Numeracy Plans. A small group of teachers called ArtsConnect has formed to continue sharing resources and promoting the program to colleagues and the Northern Territory Department of Education.

Ms Tait was nominated by Ms Merrilee Mills, an advisory teacher at the Northern Territory Music School. She will use the award money to build on the outcomes of the ‘Music for Learning for Life’ project, including the development by teachers of more arts-based resources that promote literacy and numeracy skills development.

Jenness Warin also from the Northern Territory, has been the Workplace English Language and Literacy Tutor for the Laynhapuy Homeland Association for the past four years.

She has taken an innovative approach to teaching literacy and numeracy in the remote Homelands of East Arnhemland, so that community members do not have to travel to regional centres to learn basic skills. She teaches literacy and numeracy in a small business context, providing meaningful programmes which address the real needs of the community.

Ms Warin has introduced and used Information Communication Technology as a bridge to further develop skills in reading, writing and working with figures. She helped win a grant for broadband satellite-equipped communications and IT stations that are now set up and operating in four remote homelands. People are now using e-mail and the Internet for getting such vital information as weather reports on the movement of cyclones or for seeking medical advice.

Ms Warin’s ability to demonstrate the importance of literacy and numeracy to the parents in the community has increased the value that the community places on students attending school and participating in classroom activities. Elders are enlisted to mentor younger people, an approach which respects the tribal structure as well as meeting the challenges of the new generations.

Her influence has motivated the Homeland communities to undertake their own initiatives and to have greater control in deciding their future development. As a result of her work many indigenous people are now able to access services and participate in the broader community in ways which had not previously been open to them.

Ms Warin was nominated by Jonetani, Rika Homelands Development Coordinator and colleague. She will use the award money to expand the use of IT to support literacy and numeracy development, to train local community members to teach other communities and to research the uptake and effects of digital communication in relation to improvements in adult literacy and numeracy in remote communities.