We are indebted to Dee Why RSL for granting us assistance to continue our work. It will be well spent within our program to assist those within our community who have trouble reading, writing and speaking English. Thank you.
We have received a Northern Beaches Council grant to assist with the running of our Litnet programs for 2022. This includes funding to run two ZOOM sessions for people to become familiar with the software and the methodology it allows.
Already a few of our tutors are helping students to download the app, use the communication tools, share screens and chat. This has the advantage of flexibility because pairs can operate from anywhere at any time, and even if students move out of the area, the partnership can continue.
This is very exciting. The online training sessions will last for two hours, and are designed for tutors and tutors with students. The first will be held in early February, followed by the second in late March.
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.
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.
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!
President, October 2021
Covid-19 continues to impact our work and ability for our tutors and students to meet face to face. As we write this report all of Sydney is in yet another lockdown. We have continued to stay in touch with each of our tutors who in turn are using often creative ways to stay connected with their student where practicable. We know that many are able to do lessons via phone, WhatsApp and Zoom to continue planned activities or just chat. Many of our learners are juggling demanding jobs often in health vulnerable areas, working from home and managing their own families often with home schooling added to the mix, so their available time is even more limited. After 15 weeks of lockdown, we are looking forward to more options being available for everyone in our community who has been vaccinated in the next weeks.
We have regular contact with community groups including Parents Next and TAFE who have referred to us possible interested students.
Eight people completed our Oct/Nov course in 2020 and another seven tutors in our March/April 2021 course. Four of those were not available to tutor at the end of their course due to competing job or family situations. We did match the other eleven with a student. As at the end of June 2020 we had twenty-six tutor and student pairs working together. They come from a range of countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Korea, Poland, Portugal, Thailand, Tibet, with multiple students from most of those.
Several of us attended the annual Literacy Network lunch at Dee Why RSL in December 2020, but as numbers were limited it wasn’t the crowd we usually are able to meet up and celebrate with.
We did manage a very successful tutor get-together in May 2021 with twenty five people attending. Dhondup who is the Multicultural Services Officer at the Northern Beaches Community, spoke at length helping us to learn more about the work that is done for the Tibetan community in our area. Tutors Basia and Sue spoke about the work they are doing with their students from Brazil and Tibet. They offered useful hints and resources.
Everyone was very excited about being together and the exuberant conversations being held in the break were terrific. A big thank you to the committee who again catered for the event in a delicious and substantive way.
Thank you to Sue for maintaining the website. We still have people finding us online and we refer many prospective tutors to it.
Thank you to the tutors who regularly sent reports and return resources. The office is easy to access; people are welcome to use it for lessons and visit any time. We also thank Patti for taking on the task of reviewing our resources and updating our lists of resources currently on loan.
Screening of the SBS series Lost For Words in September has put a human face to the barriers experienced by people who struggle with their reading and writing. The series generated lots of social media, and comments clearly reflected the surprise and empathy in the community around adult literacy.
The series looks to have given some people the courage and impetus to finally call the Hotline for advice. Sharing learners’ stories has inspired others who were too fearful to take the first step. Including the Hotline’s number in closing credits was a great help in encouraging people to make contact, resulting in a doubling of our calls compared to the same period last year.
Since the program first screened, over 110 people have rung the Hotline either wanting to volunteer their time or find out how to pursue a career in adult literacy.
Congratulations to my student, Kalsang, on becoming an Australian citizen.
Kalsang’s journey to become an Australian citizen began nearly 16 years ago. From Lhasa he crossed the Himalayas, walking for 27 days to reach Nepal and the safety of India where he lived for 10 years before coming to Australia as a refugee.
I first met Kalsang 14 months ago. Since then every week, except for school holidays, we spent a couple of hours together to improve his English. Kalsang was always on time, never missing a lesson, and with a positive attitude always greeting me with a big warm smile. It was a privilege and a pleasure to be Kalsang’s tutor and to continue helping him with his English. Jan R.
Train as a volunteer tutor with Literacy Network, a community-based organisation with an office in Manly Vale. Work with an adult on a one-to-one basis for up to two hours a week to meet negotiated goals and improve English skills.
Coordinators manage the program, interview potential learners and train tutors. They match learner and tutor and support their activities. They also liaise with other community organisations working with adults in the Northern Beaches.
There is no prior experience required and it is highly rewarding. Training sessions run for 8 weeks, from 10am to 12.30pm on a Tuesday morning. The next course begins in March 2020.
For more information on what we do and volunteering as a tutor, explore our website or visit our volunteer page
Adult literacy specialists – an endangered species??
“Despite the fact that LLN is universally acknowledged as a vital underpinning skill for adults in all walks of life, it appears that qualified adult LLN teachers are becoming very hard to find. And even more worrying is the fact that to the best of our knowledge, specialist graduate qualifications in adult literacy/numeracy will not be offered anywhere in Australia from 2020. Where will the adult LLN specialists of the future come from?
In the past, several universities offered a Graduate Diploma in Adult Literacy or Adult Basic Education either face to face or online. In addition, a number of RTOs around the country offered TAE80113, the Graduate Diploma in Adult LLN Practice from the TAE Training Package. The Hotline is advised that none of these offerings will be available from the beginning of 2020, as institutions move to rationalise their offerings and cut costs. The removal of the qualification from the skills list and VET Student Loans eligibility is a major factor in this decline.
This national depletion of capability in the adult literacy/numeracy field is extremely serious. Whilst all VET trainers now hold TAELLN411 (made compulsory by ASQA recently), this unit is clearly identified as merely an awareness unit, and does not qualify holders as literacy specialists. All trainers enrolled in this awareness unit are required to consult an adult literacy expert, as part of their assessment. Where will these experts be found in the future?”
https://www.readingwritinghotline.edu.au/learners-stories/ – scroll down to the footer to subscribe to their newsletter.
The 6th December saw another successful Christmas gathering for Literacy Network when tutors and students met for lunch at Dee Why RSL – who hospitably provided us with a wonderful table with seating for many and tasty food for all.
The get together was a little sad too, with a farewell to our wonderful student-teacher co-coordinator, Amanda. Amanda joined Literacy Network in 2014 and stepped into the role alongside Robyn in 2015.
The gathering was also an opportunity to welcome our new president, Lynsey, plus a chance to meet Robyn’s new co-coordinator, Anita. And of course we had our past president Chris with us too!
We also thank our hardworking secretary Anne, and treasurer Sue for their efforts in putting the occasion together for us. This must have been particularly difficult for Anne who was without electricity in the week leading up to the party (a long blackout indeed).
Literacy Network was represented by Robyn Smith, (coordinator) and Lynsey Chandler (president) at the launch of the report on the Northern Beaches Tibetan Community Research Project. The project, was initiated by Maria Elena Chidzey, Manager of Multicultural Settlement Services at Community Northern Beaches Inc, an independent not-for-profit organisation, and carried out by Macquarie University and funded by the NBCC.
Many members of the Tibetan Community participated in various roles. The CNB Multicultural Service is the only funded service assisting refugees and others in our area, and collaborates with a range of service providers to empower people to build their community through conversation classes, driving and swimming programs, and more.
State MP James Griffin and Councillor Candy Bingham attended, as well as the Secretary of the Tibetan Community Council and representatives of local organisations.
Members of the Tibetan community contributed directly to the project as translator, graphic designer and photographer. Many helped as facilitators, and nearly 200 participated in consultation groups. Five people shared their life stories. The resulting report is a fascinating picture of a vibrant community that lives with us and quietly contributes a huge amount to our community and theirs. Literary Network has several copies of the report in our library