The Lowitja Institute is a founding partner of Literacy for Life Foundation, an Aboriginal-led initiative aiming to lift adult literacy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. An estimated 40 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have minimal English literacy, a figure that rises to as high as 70 per cent in many remote areas. So long as these adult illiteracy rates exist, meaningful progress towards many Closing the Gap targets will be impossible.
The Literacy for Life Foundation uses an innovative, evidence-based, campaign approach that has been implemented in 30 countries around the world and is now delivering results in Australia. So far more than 120 students have graduated campaigns run in seven NSW communities and the organisation is working towards national expansion.
Initially, the Lowitja Institute provided funding for a pilot of the Literacy for Life Foundation approach, building on the well documented links between literacy and improved health outcomes. The pilot used the 'Yo Si Puedo' (Yes I Can) Cuban method with great success in the rural NSW town of Wilcannia. For more details, download the Aboriginal Adult Literacy Campaign Pilot Project Summary Report (2012).
Support was extended following the promising results achieved during pilot phase. The graduation rate of Literacy for Life Foundation students was five times higher than existing programs and the campaigns created a range of benefits across the community.
Building on this evidence base, the Lowitja Institute helped Literacy for Life Foundation design and carry out a longitudinal study of individual and community impacts, with a focus on measuring improvements in areas such as health, education and community safety.
The Literacy for Life Foundation’s campaign approach relies on community ownership and control. It is driven by local leaders and delivered by local staff. Originally developed in Cuba, the method was designed to raise adult literacy levels quickly across a region.
For more information about the Literacy for Life Foundation visit www.lflf.org.au
- Aboriginal Adult Literacy Campaign – Wilcannia Pilot Project – Final Evaluation Report (DRAFT) PDF [1.2 MB], Boughton, B. 2012
- An Aboriginal Adult Literacy Campaign Pilot Study in Australia using 'Yes I can', Broghton, B., Ah Chee, D., Beetson, J. Durnan, D., Lebalanch, J. 2013
The full article in PDF format is available for download upon free registration to the Literacy and Numeracy Studies journal.
- Media Release: Wilcannia Literacy Campaign graduates say 'Yes I Can' PDF [301 KB], 30 August 2012
- Wilcannia hosts Aboriginal Adult Literacy pilot project, Wangka Pulka, April 2012
- Wilcannia: The little town that said ‘Yes We Can’, Wangka Pulka, April 2012
- In my own words, SBS TV [sign in required]
- To lift literacy levels among Indigenous children, their parents’ literacy skills must be improved first, The Conversation, 9 June 2017
- Wilcannia Literacy (YouTube video link), SBS Living Black program, 27 October 2012
Launch on 31 August 2012
- Wilcannia celebrates 6 more graduates in literacy campaign, The National Indigenous Times, September 2012
- Celebrating Indigenous Literacy Day on ABC Radio National Books and Arts Daily, 5 September 2012
- Funding hopes for literacy program, ABC Broken Hill, 3 September 2012
- Literacy program a boost for adults in Wilcannia, ABC News, 31 August 2012
Launch in May 2012
- Indigenous graduates in Cuban literacy program, ABC PM, 9 May 2012
- 'Yes, I Can' graduation - a win for indigenous literacy, ABC Broken Hill, 9 May 2012
- Cuban ambassador visits outback NSW, ABC News, 10 May 2012