In June this year, I arrived in Australia. I brought with me twelve years of adult literacy experience in Scotland, including developing and delivering literacy support in some of the most disadvantaged areas in the UK. The impact of the economic downturn in Scotland has been severe with many cuts to adult literacy services, and my hope was to be able to continue in my field in this country.
In July I joined the Western Australian Adult Literacy Council (WAALC) as I was a founding member of the equivalent organisation in Scotland. I submitted an entry to WAALC for a competition they had organised with the prize of funding to attend the National Australian Council of Adult Literacy (ACAL) Conference in Hobart this year. The entry I submitted was my plan for creating conversations about the stigma associated with adult literacy - that which is not often talked about, and yet which is a central issue in engaging adult literacy learners and creating an effective learning environment.
In August I was told that I had won!
In September I travelled to beautiful Hobart, and spent three days hearing from, and talking to, adult literacy folk from all over Australia and beyond, including people working in the field in Perth. I attended numerous workshops and gained masses of useful information and insights into literacy and numeracy practices and processes here.
One of the workshops I attended was delivered by Janet McHardy from LabTech Training. Janet was sharing her expertise and experience in delivering literacy and numeracy support in the workplace.
In October (one week later, back in Perth) I received a phone call from the General Manager of LabTech Training, a private training organisation known for its commitment to quality training provision, inviting me to come and talk to them about delivering the Course in Applied Vocational Study Skills (CAVSS) for them. LabTech Training has over 1000 active trainees across Australia and now has two CAVSS tutors – Janet and myself - as I started work with them the following week!
Professional associations in the adult literacy field are usually run by volunteers, all making significant individual contributions in order to support practitioners and advance the field. My advice is don’t under-estimate what they can do for you - and think about supporting your local and national organisations, if you don’t already. You sometimes never actually know just what you are contributing to!
Thanks WAALC, thanks ACAL, thanks Janet, thanks LabTech and thanks everyone.
Audrey Mcalindon, WAALC