Helping marginalized communities in Australia access literacy and numeracy skills
Trailblazing. Persistent. Trustworthy. Passionate.
“Imagine not being able to drive a car because you can’t sit for your driver’s test, imagine your child is ill and you can’t read the dosage on the medicine bottle, and imagine not being able to use an ATM or fill out a form.”
–Kim Kelly, Co-Founder & Executive Director
The importance of literacy is often overlooked because it has almost become second nature to most people of today’s world. However, the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) is dedicated to raising language, literacy, and numeracy standards in Australia and advocate literacy as a basic human right.
Founded in 1999 by Mary-Ruth Mendel and Kim Kelly, ALNF helps people in Australia’s most marginalized communities access the literacy and numeracy skills needed to be able to participate fully in society. Only one in five Indigenous Australian children living in very remote communities can read at the minimum National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) standard. Kelly explains that ALNF is determined to eliminate the daily struggles Indigenous individuals face; she states that “the statistics are staggering, but we can turn the numbers around if all Australians come together and raise their hands in unison to help close the Indigenous literacy gap.”
In order to accomplish its goals, it is extremely important for ALNF to gain trust and connect with the communities it works with by speaking bilingually with them. In addition to working in schools, ALNF also develops skills of caregivers, healthcare workers, community workers, and volunteers to pass on good literacy practices to their families and the whole of the community. Some of the organization’s successes include:
- Breaking down barriers between health and education with easy-to-use integrated speech pathology practices for the whole class, small groups, and individual children. There is no other comparable program that incorporates both speech pathology and education best practice to address the literacy learning needs of children.
- Reducing the educational impairments caused by Chronic Otitis Media (OM). OM causes ongoing hearing loss that negatively impacts the development of language and pre-literacy/literacy skills. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the prevalence of Otitis Media within indigenous communities ranges from 40% to 70% compared to only 5% in more advantaged populations around the world.
- Enabling all children, irrespective of socio-economic or health disadvantage, to have equitable developmental access to formal literacy instruction. ALNF’s Early Language and Literacy Program (EL&L) teaches children through their learning challenges.
- Accrediting all educators and community members who complete the EL&L (Australian Skills Quality Authority Accredited) Course.
- Empowering parents and caregivers with skills and confidence to engage in conversations about their own children’s learning needs.
ALNF is committed to meeting the needs of the individuals, groups, and communities it serves. Its programs are extremely effective and create lasting change in people’s lives. Kelly and the rest of the ALNF team are motivated by each community’s successes and work hard to raise funds to continue to develop, implement, and sustain innovative literacy programs throughout Australia.
“At ALNF, we believe that being able to read and write is a basic human right and without those skills you can’t function in the world we live in. Teaching someone to read and write changes their life forever and to see them learn and thrive is the most rewarding part of the work we do.” -Kim Kelly
Learn more at http://www.alnf.org.
Photo provided by ALNF.