“Perhaps people outside our field don’t recognize how pivotal it is” surmises Lorraine Sushames, ACAL treasurer and an expert on adult literacy in the NT, when asked why reports such as ‘Closing the Gap’ still don’t focus on adult literacy.
During a long career in adult literacy (including work on programs such as the Special intervention program, LANT, WELL, LLNP, FSFYF, and TAE80113) Lorraine has seen many people continue to slip through the gaps. She reports that access to appropriate programs is severely limited or non-existent for remote Indigenous communities and the unique challenges of the NT are yet to be overcome.
Creating a lifechanging experience for her Grad Dip in Adult LLN students when she took them to Timor Leste for practical experience was just one of many career highlights. For Lorraine, life as an adult literacy specialist is about making a difference: a lot depends on what side of the socio-economic divide you are born on so to see people improve their socio-economic status and life opportunities – being in a position to make a difference, to have an impact – these are the payoffs for adult literacy work.
Lorraine describes herself as having a strong sense of justice and of purpose, being comfortable with uncertainty, and being open to learning. As an integral member of the Australian adult literacy community, she notes that for the future we need to move away from one size fits all literacy programs. Lorraine’s call to action includes more research, inclusion of remote indigenous communities in the next PIAAC round, a refreshed TAE80113, and informal spaces for LLND learning in the NT.