January 2020

In this issue

  1. From the President
  2. Have you or your students been impacted by a natural disaster?
  3. Shrinking opportunities in the Northern Territory
  4. Launch of the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration
  5. Professional Development for ACAL members
  •  ‘A VOCEDplus primer: focus on adult literacy’
  1. National developments
  • New Commonwealth Adult Literacy Initiatives
  • Transition to Work and ParentsNext programs
  • Digital Technology Taskforce established
  • ACSF addition
  1. International matters
  • International Mother Language Day – 21 February
  • The World Literacy Summit (WLS) Oxford UK
  1. Have you read this? Supporting disadvantaged people through education and training
  2. Jack Keating Memorial Lecture: Civil Conflict and Social Opportunity
  3. Conferences
  • WAALC Conference
  • VALBEC Conference
  • ACAL 2020 Conference

1. From the President

This month I revisited the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration (see article below)  to reflect on what’s missing. In the approach to school education across Australia it seems there are two essential aspects that are overlooked, yet are considered commonsense by  many in the adult LN community. Firstly, acknowledgment of the role of the VET sector and adult educators in providing successful alternatives for youth at risk. This particularly applies to adult LN teachers who work with early school leavers to reengage them in education and address their basic skills – they are missing from this document. The Education Declaration lists teacher education among the key factors in meeting quality education for now and the future – yet also missing is concern about the lack of opportunities for teachers to gain specialised training in teaching adult LN. Without professional development opportunities, how do future teachers of disengaged youth provide an alternative to the school education system that hasn’t worked for that cohort?

Secondly, the role of education for parents and carers is not considered. Throughout the declaration there’s reference to parents as partners in the education journey, but no understanding that for many adults, basic education, including LN development, is key to breaking the cycle of educational disadvantage. Until we address the basic educational needs of parents, with a view to providing them with literacy and numeracy for personal, social and community use, we are not equipping the ‘first teachers’ of the next generation. Literacy and numeracy for work is not addressing the intergenerational cycle effectively.

Another interesting aspect of the declaration is the emphasis on lifelong learning. Ironically one of the signatories of the declaration has responded to ACAL’s concerns about the lack of opportunities for lifelong learning in the Northern Territory with no action and no resolution (See the correspondence in our NT update).

I hope 2020 has started off well for you.

Jo Medlin, President

2. Have you or your students been impacted by a natural disaster?

Our best wishes go out to all who have experienced trauma and stress over the past months. There are a range of support services and resources available to you and your students.

Here’s a small selection of some that might help you start your own search for relevant articles.


If you have students  in bushfire affected communities who speak languages other than English, they can view translated factsheets from the NSW Rural Fire Service

A resource pack for educators, families and community members to help manage the mental health impact of the bushfire crisis

Easy English – Country Fire Authority

Bushfire education

Natural disaster resource

3. Shrinking opportunities in the Northern Territory

In the absence of a Northern Territory literacy and numeracy council, ACAL has taken an advocacy role by writing to each Minister in the Northern Territory about opportunities for adult literacy and numeracy learners. Concerns were raised when Charles Darwin University (CDU) announced language, literacy and numeracy classes would not be offered in 2020. Research, much of which was carried out by CDU, demonstrates that many adults in the NT need to develop language, literacy and numeracy skills to participate effectively in community and work contexts.

We have received one response. The Hon Selena Uibo MLA, Minister for Workforce Training invited ACAL to discuss the English Language, Literacy and Numeracy policy position developed by the NT Department of Trade, Business and Development.

You can read the response from Hon Selena Uibo MLA here

In a reply to the Minister we asked for clarification of her statements regarding the Reading, Writing Hotline, on which ACAL also hold a steering committee seat and with which we communicate regularly. We engaged with the Reading, Writing Hotline committee before taking any action. The information from the committee was that the CDU offerings are extremely important and cutting them will leave an unfilled gap in the NT. We also sought clarification around the suggestion to liaise with the Australian Government about alternate providers. It is concerning that the NT Government is not able to provide this information themselves.

You can read ACAL’s reply here.

Over the following months ACAL will also reconnect with the other Ministers seeking a response.

4. Launch of the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration

Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education DeclarationAlthough a declaration for childhood and school education, this declaration is of interest because it inevitably mentions pathways into adult education. For example, the goals include building successful lifelong learners who:

have the essential skills in literacy and numeracy as the foundation for learning

continue to improve through formal and informal learning in further education, and training or employment, and acquire the skills to make informed decisions throughout their lives

are confident and motivated to reach their full potential.

The goals are supported by actions that include

developing stronger partnerships

embedding pathways for learning throughout life and supporting effective transitions

supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners to reach their full potential

supporting all young Australians at risk of educational disadvantage

See The Mparntwe Declaration

5. Professional Development for ACAL members

VOCEDplus‘A VOCEDplus primer: focus on adult literacy’

Rose-Anne Polvere will  discuss and demonstrate the aspects of VOCEDplus that are of interest to the adult literacy field.

Date: Wed 25 March

Time: TBC

Presenter: Rose-Anne Polvere, Research Librarian, Knowledge Management Branch, National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)

Mode: Webinar (NCVER uses GoToWebinar technology by LogMeIn)

Pencil in the date and look out for further details over the coming weeks.

6. National developments

New Commonwealth Adult Literacy Initiatives

In response to the Joyce review into VET, The Australian Government has announced two new adult literacy initiatives to commence in 2020. The Foundation Skills for your Future program provides $52.5 million over 3 years for employees or those recently employed who need additional LLND skills at work or for further study.  The program can be accessed via RTO’s or through projects linking RTO’s and employers and will cover both accredited and non-accredited training. The program also has a focus on digital literacy and a new digital literacy framework has been developed.

The second initiative provides $9.9 million for four pilot adult literacy programs in remote Indigenous communities. The pilots aim to inform future program delivery and funding and will be located in the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Queensland.

More details

Tender documentation is on the AusTender website

Foundation Skills for your Future

Remote Community Pilots

Transition to Work and ParentsNext programs

Transition to Work and ParentsNext programsThe Reading Writing Hotline has engaged with the Commonwealth to provide clearer information about eligibility for outcome payments under the Transition to Work and ParentsNext programs.

See the RWH website for details

Digital Technology Taskforce established

Digital Technology TaskforceIn digital news is the establishment of a Digital Technology Taskforce. The taskforce will sit within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and will drive Australia to become a leading digital economy by 2030.The taskforce is looking at ways the Australian Government can boost productivity through the uptake of digital technology. The taskforce is also exploring ways digital technology can benefit all Australians and minimise any harms.

Taskforce details

ACSF addition

Recently an addition to the ACSF was released by the Dept of Employment to accompany the Foundation Skills for Your Future Program (Program) and the Remote Community Pilots. The Department has assured us that the inadequate timeframe for feedback is insignificant because the ACSF addition is only to be used in association with that particular program and tender. If the purpose changes and the document becomes part of the ACSF, we will expect to see further opportunity for consultation before that occurs.

7. International matters

International Mother Language Day – 21 February

Mother tongue dayThis day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. Language is fundamental to all communication and there is a growing awareness that preserving languages particularly of communities that have been marginalised, is important for attaining quality education for all, building inclusive knowledge societies and preserving cultural heritage.

To find out more go to the UN page for resources, events and information.

The World Literacy Summit (WLS) Oxford UK

The World Literacy Summit (WLS) Oxford UKAre you going to the WLS? If yes, ACAL are interested in hearing from you if you’d like to send us updates via FaceBook or email from the summit or a summary when you return.

This summit (WLS) brings together leaders from 85 countries representing over two-thirds of the world’s population, and all with a single focus – advocating, championing and educating on the vital importance of improving literacy levels across the globe.

Dates: April 5-8, 2020
Conference Theme: ‘Reading Changes Lives!’
Early Bird Registration Deadline: Jan 31, 2020

More about the Summit

8. Have you read this? Supporting disadvantaged people through education and training

Supporting disadvantaged people through education and training: An International Specialised Skills Institute Fellowship by Karen Dymke and Cate Thompson (2019).

Supporting disadvantageThis report resulted from a fellowship awarded to the authors to research practice overseas ‘to identify effective strategies that assist disadvantaged and disengaged learners to move from unemployment and associated disadvantages into employment and positive life options’. The key question guiding the investigation was how to ‘engage vulnerable people to commence a learning journey? Furthermore, having engaged them into programs, how do we ensure through quality teaching and learning that they continue the journey and build confidence and skills, to pathway on to employment and/or, better life opportunities?’ An additional question investigated was: ‘… to professionalise the practice of educators working in this field with the aim of recognising the specialist skills required in teaching vulnerable learners’.

Access this report

9. Jack Keating Memorial Lecture: Civil Conflict and Social Opportunity

Keating memorial lectureJoe Lo Bianco, Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, has specialised and worked in language policy studies, bilingualism and intercultural education over the last three decades.

ACAL were very fortunate to have him speak at the 2019 ACAL conference in Sydney.

To hear more from Joe and his views on Language Education Policy and why it is a question of major political importance, you can view his lecture here.  This lecture is part of the Dean Lecture Series at the University of Melbourne.

You Tube video

10. Conferences

WAALC Conference

WAALC 2020 conference

Submit a proposal for the WAALC Conference

VALBEC Conference

VALBEC 2020 ConferenceSubmit a proposal by March 27th

ACAL 2020 Conference

Parliament HouseThe ACAL conference committee is busily preparing for the announcement of the 2020 conference. Look out for an information email soon with more information.