LEND A HAND FOR LITERACY
Like many of you, I believe every single Australian child has the right to a first-class education – the basic right to read, write and count.
And I know we are not alone, particularly when you consider it was 50 years ago that the United Nations recognised this in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It is well documented that an education breaks the cycle of poverty and provides personal, social and economic growth for individuals and communities across the globe. However, knowing and doing are two very different things.
Whilst we have many good educational facilities here in Australia, particularly in our major cities, Australians need to take heed. Our literacy ranking, according to the OECD, is slipping, with an increasing gap between the students at the top and bottom of the scale, and Indigenous Australians are vastly over-represented in the lowest literacy ranks.
Kim Kelly and Mary-Ruth Mendel have been working tirelessly to do something about this.
In 1999 they founded The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) which is based on a shared passion for providing best-practice literacy programs to those in need. Together they committed to establishing a charity that could properly and equitably assist and educate people who needed help. And so the ALNF became the first national charity dedicated to raising language, literacy and numeracy standards across Australia.
Kim and Mary-Ruth believe single-mindedly that all Australians have the right to strong literacy skills, because being able to read and write is the key to accessing information, education and employment, thus participating fully in society.
I am proud to be an Ambassador for the ALNF and in that role, help to raise awareness of the foundation’s outstanding work.
As editor of The Australian Women’s Weekly from 1999 to 2008, I was privileged to have the opportunity to work with these two outstanding women and provide what support I could, to help bring this project to fruition.
Having spent much of my career in print, working as a journalist and editor, I understand the joy of reading and writing: gaining knowledge through books, magazines, and more recently online with great sites such as this one.
I also understand the impact poor literacy skills can have on a person’s emotional, social and financial wellbeing.
As a mother, I am committed to ensuring my child has the best possible education and opportunities to reach his full potential in life.
As a person fortunate enough to have had a good education and financially stable upbringing, I want to make sure that the best opportunities are available to all Australian children and families.
Learning to read and write is the vital first step to achieving this.
With only one in five children in remote indigenous communities able to read or write at the minimum standard, the Wall of Hands Indigenous Literacy Appeal (www.wallofhands.com.au) raises much-needed funds for the ALNF to deliver the literacy and numeracy programs necessary to change this unacceptable situation.
I encourage everyone to get behind ANLF and this great initiative. Without doubt, closing the indigenous literacy gap is a serious, long-term program that requires commitment and funds.
We can all make a difference to the lives of indigenous children by participating in this important campaign.
The Wall of Hands Indigenous Literacy Appeal, now in its fourth year, brings people to together to say, “We Care”. This year our goal is to raise $300,000 to support life-changing literacy programs for children in the remote communities of Tennant Creek, Mungkarta, Elliott and Ali-Curung. Please join me in saying “I Care”.
To get involved simply visit www.wallofhands.com.au. Raise your hand, donate and spread the word. Remember – many hands make literacy work! The 2012 Wall of Hands appeal will run until the end of September.
*Deborah Thomas is Director of Media, Public Affairs and Brand Development at ACP Magazines and an ALNF Ambassador.Watch this video featuring ANLF Ambassador Faustina Agolley visiting remote Australian communities to see how ALNF is helping close the Indigenous literacy gap.