About ACAL

What do we do?

The Australian Council for Adult Literacy promotes adult literacy and numeracy policy and practice.

  • we provide leadership in Australian debate on adult literacy and numeracy practices and policy
  • we build understanding of adult literacy and numeracy issues
  • we advocate on behalf of equitable adult literacy and numeracy provision for all Australians
  • we build links between people, organisations and systems; the participants and stakeholders in the adult literacy and numeracy field
  • we work with other organisations on issues of mutual concern.

ACAL is funded solely by membership dues. 

And how we do it ?

  • by providing a forum for debate on issues in adult literacy and numeracy practice in Australia in the form of national forums and annual conferences
  • by providing information on current policies and services in adult literacy and numeracy practice in Australia and promoting community awareness of adult literacy and numeracy issues
  • by raising the awareness of government, industry and non-government peak bodies
  • by publishing position statements and other occasional papers on adult literacy and numeracy issues by promoting the recognition of adult literacy and numeracy teaching as a profession
  • by promoting the broadening of equitable and accessible adult literacy and numeracy provision
  • by promoting research into adult literacy and numeracy to inform both policy and practice by collaborating with other professional bodies concerned with literacy and numeracy education, ESL education, adult and workplace learning, community education, and vocational education and training.

Code of Conduct

See Committee Code of conduct here
See Members Code of conduct here

Some history

The Australian Council for Adult Literacy was formed in October, 1976, after a working group on adult literacy was established at the Adelaide conference for the Australian Association of Adult Education (AAAE). This working group decided that a national council separate from the AAAE was needed, solely dedicated to raising the profile of adult literacy education. Those involved in setting up the separate council felt that rather than being subsumed by the umbrella organisation of adult education, the needs of the burgeoning adult literacy movement in Australia would be better served by having its own national body, to lobby the Federal Government and to develop policy specifically related to adult literacy needs.

Arch Nelson, a member of the working group, became the inaugural chair of the newly formed council, the Australian Council for Adult Literacy (ACAL), a position he held until 1984.

In 1977 the first national adult literacy conference was held in Canberra. In his autobiography Arch Nelson describes the two-fold function of ACAL as ‘(1) to help develop public awareness of the need of adequate levels of literacy; and (2) to facilitate and promote cooperation among concerned people and organisations throughout Australia’ (1996 p.232). This also became the agenda for the state councils as they were established (Campbell, 2009 p.25).

Campbell, B. 2009, Reading the Fine Print: A History of the Victorian Adult Literacy and Basic Education Council (VALBEC) 1978-2008, VALBEC, Victoria.

Previous ACAL Patrons

1982-83 Judith Wright
1984 The Honourable K. Beazley (Senior)
1985 -90 AJA (Arch) Nelson
1991-92 Hazel Hawke


ACAL’s Structure

ACAL is an incorporated association governed by a Constitution with an annually elected Executive and state-appointed representatives.

Incorporated Association A0 1297 (ACT)

ABN: 18 120 488 674

Email: info@acal.edu.au

Postal Address: PO Box 2283, Canberra ACT 2601

State and Territories

E: nswalnc@gmail.com

E: info@qcal.org.au

W: www.sacal.sa.edu.au

W: www.tcal.org.au

W: www.valbec.org.au

W: www.waalc.org.au

Executive support

Estelle O’Callaghan
PO Box 2283
Canberra ACT 2601
E: info@acal.edu.au