2021, Presidents Report

This report covers the activities of Literacy Network Manly-Warringah for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021.

Once again we have built on our solid past experience and strong community connections to deliver our unique service to students through our team of volunteers despite the changes caused by Covid-19. Our students have continued to receive help with reading, writing, communication and numeracy skills as they work to improve their educational and career opportunities and participation in work and community life.

On behalf of our executive committee, it is my pleasure to thank our team of volunteer tutors, who have used their ingenuity and expertise, as well as their time and a large helping of kindness, to make a difference for our adult learners.

It is equally a pleasure to say a very warm thank you to our committee, who have brought time, energy and ingenuity to supporting Literacy Network through this pandemic year. Your work is fundamental to our success.

Literacy Network’s unique services are built squarely on the hard work, skill and generosity of our two volunteer tutor co-ordinators, who train, oversee and support our team of tutors in their work with our adult learners. The co-ordinators’ work is the essence of our organisation and I have great pleasure in thanking Robyn and Anita for their work, especially given the complexities introduced by the pandemic.

The people we assist

The 2016 Census showed thousands of people living on the Northern Beaches who identify as having serious difficulties with literacy, including native speakers. There is no reason to think that the 2021 Census will show anything different. We continue to meet our students at their point of need for literacy, numeracy and conversation. Many CALD adults lack the language and technology skills to succeed with online learning. We are excited because in November we will be introducing formal training in the use of Zoom for our students and tutors as we expect that covid-19 will be with us at least intermittently for some time to come. Although there is a great deal of practical support for the CALD community locally, our tutors are often the first port of call for students needing, for example, to make an insurance claim, renew a policy, come to grips with the ATO, dispute their power bill, and of course, to apply for jobs. We make sure that our tutors are aware of accessible community support for our students.

Publicity

We have continued to advertise to prospective students through leaflets in libraries, TAFE and colleges, but many of our referrals come by word of mouth. See the Tutor Co-ordinators’ report. Our website,  is a source of many new students and tutors.

Literacy Network is represented with a write-up and photo in the Community Northern Beaches Religious and Cultural newsletter, and in the CALD Resources and Multicultural Network Welcome to the Northern Beaches Resource created by the NB Council.

Liaison with community organisations

Literacy Network continues to actively maintain relationships with community organisations to enhance our services to our learners. We are represented at the Northern Beaches Multicultural Network meetings and keep up to date with their many projects, services and initiatives. The Northern Beaches Multicultural Settlement Service and the Northern Suburbs Multicultural Health Service from time to time send Covid-related information for tutors to share with their students. We continue to liaise with TAFE and community college teachers to support our students. Our tutors of Tibetan students were disappointed that they were unable to attend Losar (Tibetan New Year celebrations) cancelled because of public health orders. We were given access to teaching materials from the ABS to assist our students with the Census. We have a link to Reading and Writing Hotline on our website.

Our financial supporters

Without the generous financial support of our sponsors Literacy Network would find it very difficult to put all our resources into our learners. Despite the restrictions imposed by two periods of Covid lockdown, our program continued and was delivered as intended. We received no grant money through 2020 – 2021 but the generous support of DY RSL Club, Pittwater RSL Club, Balgowlah SL Club and Northern Beaches Council in the previous year allowed us to squeak through.

Our students

Finally, on behalf of Literacy Network, I want to thank our students, who share their experiences with us, as well as their English studies. Teaching you makes us happy!

Lynsey Chandler

President, October 2021