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31st Annual Conference of the Australian Council for Adult Literacy, 3-4 October 2008, Crowne Plaza, Surfers’ Paradise, Gold Coast

Forum presentations

Conference presentations


The Grit in the Oyster - Does Social Practices in an Adult Literacies Teaching Qualification Result in Pearls of Practice

David Wallace (Senior Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland)

Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 2.7 MB)

In Scotland adult literacies teaching treats language and literacy as social practices rather than discrete skills. There is a concern to acknowledge literacies practices that are diverse, cultural and situated. This embodies an informal, cooperative and constructivist approach to adult literacies learning and teaching. The role of the adult literacies teacher therefore is constructed as a means of engaging with the plurality of such literacies practices in communities.

An adult literacies teaching course has been piloted in Scotland by a partnership group comprising three Universities and one Further Education College. Using a blended learning approach, class-room, work-based and on-line learning are aligned in the interests of continuous professional development for participants who are experienced but unqualified adult literacies tutors. The focus in teaching therefore is not on transmission but on elaborating on experiential learning, building critical reflection through shared activities and has seen the creation of both a real life and on-line community of practice.

This session will seek to elaborate on the principles of the course, highlighting the successes, tensions and problems associated with this approach. The efficacy of collaborative learning and critical reflection in the context of social practices in adult literacies will be discussed. The creative tensions of matching student expectation, policy demands and the demands of the economy will be elaborated as means of questioning whether the grit in the oyster is resulting in pearls of practice.


Making Dollars and Cents of Financial Literacy

Delivery of Financial Literacy to Female Prisoners – Report on a Pilot Project

Chris Schulter

(Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 450KB)

(Paper PDF 80KB)

This is a joint project between two community organizations: Soroptimist International of Brisbane Inc, Career Employment Australia Inc (CEA) and a government department: Queensland Corrective Services (QCS). Soroptimist International is a worldwide organization committed to advancing the status of women and human rights for all. The Soroptimist International Brisbane Inc. have been working in some capacity with female prisoners at Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre and Helana Jones Correctional Centre for the past 11 years. Career Employment Australia Inc. (CEA) is an innovative community-based not-for-profit organisation that has been assisting offenders and ex-offenders for over seven years and the disadvantaged for 27 years. Queensland Corrective Services(QCS) has been conducting VET education programs since 1995 and has been implementing advanced rehabilitation programs for prisoners. It was the first state in Australia to introduce mass literacy and numeracy screening of male prisoners on remand.


Deadly Dreaming: Bi-cultural strategies for working with Indigenous Adults in Education

Anne Mahon & Eva Sahanna

(Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 84KB)

Anne Mahon is an Anglo-Celtic Australian from Perth, Western Australia. She works as a teacher with Centacare Employment and Training’s (CET) Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program (LLNP) and as a researcher in a two-way team with Eva Sahanna on CET’s DEEWR funded Indigenous LLNP Project. Eva Sahanna married a Bardi man, has Bardi children and is a Nyungar York. She is from the South-West region of Western Australia.

Our dream is to see our Indigenous communities apply the same cultural values and beliefs of their “Dreamings” and place ownership into their classrooms and allow for it to carve positive relationships that will filter through solid pathways home to our wider communities.

This is a collaborative paper that will be presented by a two-way team, consisting of an Aboriginal researcher and an Anglo-Celtic Australian researcher, who work as equal partners to promote bi-cultural perspectives in their research. The team are currently working on a DEEWR funded project aimed at improving the practice of Centacare Employment and Training when delivering the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Project to Indigenous students. In the team’s working relationship there is more going on than two individuals collaborating as colleagues in the work place. It is the meeting of two cultures and two histories. It is the meeting of the past interactions, knowledges and experiences of those two cultures. Non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal worlds may seem to be similar, since many of us grow up on the same lands and in the same streets. However, they are radically different, with only tenuous links between them. This paper seeks to share more than the key recommendations of our project—which reiterate the findings of similar research—and document strategies for achieving successful outcomes for Indigenous students. It seeks to explore the differences between two fundamentally disparate worlds and justify why radical strategies and approaches are necessary to reconcile our differences, in the classroom and in the broader world. We explore our bi-cultural experiences, approaches and developing understandings of our two cultures within the context of our shared desire to make our knowledges accessible to our wider communities.


Decoding: Teaching Phonics to Adults

Nicky Mohan & Damon Whitten (Professional Development Co-ordinator at Workbase, New Zealand)

(Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 280KB)

The ability to decode printed text quickly and accurately is a vital part of reading. Often the bottleneck for comprehension poor decoding continues to prevent adults make meaning from text despite an abundance of research and effort by tutors. This presentation explores the role of decoding in reading from a theoretical background and offers several approaches to teaching decoding and developing word attack skills. This practical workshop looks at the simple view of reading, the role of short term memory in decoding and an opportunity to explore activities from analytic, syllabic and analogy approaches to phonics. We bring you New Zealand’s recent initiative the ‘Learning Progressions’ highlighting decoding as a critical component.


Targeting Tutors

Mignon Fanton

Sunshine Coast Libraries Adult Literacy Program

(Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 470KB)

Pre-Conference Forum

'Adult literacy, numeracy and lifelong learning: a cross-sectoral dialogue'

Australian Council for Adult Literacy, Pre-conference forum, Adult literacy, numeracy and lifelong learning: a cross-sectoral dialogue, was held on 2 October 2008. The focus was towards developing a framework for social inclusion through building literacy into a whole of government approach to policy development. The forum was addressed by Senator Ursula Stephens A range of speakers from the health sector, from industry, and welfare sectors examined how literacy relates to issues of social & economic exclusion. Then, representatives from not-for-profit organisations presented models of what works, in removing barriers to social inclusion.

Forum speakers were:

Opening address

• Senator Ursula Stephens (Parliamentary Secretary Social Inclusion) Opening address. (PDF 50KB)

• Dave Tout (Australian Council for Educational Research)

Overview of Adult Literacy & Lifeskills Survey (ALLS) data and implications for different sectors - findings include health literacy. (PDF 380KB)

• Professor Helen Keleher (Head, Department of Health Sciences, Monash University) Implications of ALLS data for the health sector. (PDF 180KB)

Short responses from:

• Dr Steve Black (University of Technology, Sydney) – re health literacy (Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 70KB)

• Mark Tucker-Evans (Council on the Ageing, Qld) – Seniors Quality Use of medicines (SQUM)

How does literacy relate to issues of social & economic exclusion?

• Buktha Sathurayar (Queensland Corrective Services) (Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 140KB)

• John Dalgliesh (Boystown) – Disadvantaged youth transitions to work (Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 180KB)

• Sue Evans (Learning Network Queensland) – ACE-VET partnerships (Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 420KB)

What works? Successes, barriers and issues from different sectors.

• Damian Foley – The Smith Family (Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 200KB)

• Pauline O’Maley – Salvation Army (Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 150KB)

• Cathrena McRae – WELL in Indigenous communities (Presentation PowerPoint converted to PDF 140KB)


The forum was facilitated by Professor Rosie Wickert (Head of Campus, Coffs Harbour, Southern Cross University). The 68 participants and speakers formed groups to discuss the following questions:

1. What kinds of people would be employed by difference sectors to meet the LLN needs of their client groups? What skills and knowledges are needed to do this work?

2. What can be done to extend participation in adult learning to those with the greatest learning needs and lowest participation rates?

3. What options are there for funding?

Each group was led by a facilitator and the responses recorded. These responses were then prioitised by the groups. This process has been recorded and the outcomes will be posted on the ACAL website along with the speakers’ powerpoint presentations.


‘Surfing outside the flags: catching waves, avoiding rips’


The title of the 2008 ACAL conference was deliberately chosen to be provocative, to start participants thinking about what the phrases could mean when used as a metaphor for raising issues and provoking debate. As the conference took place on the Gold Coast, it seemed appropriate to select a surfing theme. Other themes included: Indigenous literacy & numeracy, vocational & workplace literacy & numeracy, meeting the literacy & numeracy needs of African refugees, numeracy, and community literacy.