Western Australian Adult Literacy Council



Text Box:                                   	WAALC







                                                        ABN 90 836 385 358


                                     Hon. Secretary: Robyn Rennie             

19 Brittain Street

Como   WA   6152 

Tel. 9405 2319

                                  Email  robynrennie@optusnet.com.au             


President: Carmel Jennings

12 Ottawa Way

Wanneroo WA 6065

Tel. 9430 4921

Email cjennings@centrecarewa.com.au                                                                                                                       






WAALC Annual Conference
This year’s most notable event for WAALC was the annual conference held in July at Central TAFE in Perth. The conference, based on the theme ‘Two-Way Talk: Listening to Learn, Learning to Listen’, attracted 50 participants from all over the state.

Geoff Pearson, a highly experienced ESL teacher, gave the keynote address.  Geoff now teaches literacy skills to a group of profoundly deaf people.  Helped by one of his students, Patricia Levitsky, and an AUSLAN interpreter, Mike Everett, Geoff presented a fascinating account of the linguistic, social and cultural challenges faced by deaf Australians. 


The conference included a variety of workshops covering such topics as two-way learning (recognizing Aboriginal English) for indigenous CGEA students; digital storytelling; testing and ‘faux’ testing; desktop publishing; working with beginning ESL students; and using plain English to replace the growing blight of corporate and bureaucratic jargon.

Conference proceedings included the WAALC AGM at which Carmel Jennings was re-elected as President, Cheryl Wiltshire as Vice-President, Robyn Rennie as Secretary, Helen Grimston as Treasurer and James Plumridge as ACAL representative.  A high point of the AGM was the presentation of life membership to Nan Haggard, a long-standing member and supporter of WAALC who for many years before her retirement taught adult literacy as a volunteer tutor in Perth.


Our next conference is scheduled for Thursday 12 July 2007.  Interstate participants will be warmly welcomed.


Minister’s Awards

As reported in the current issue of Literacy Link, our president, Carmel Jennings, was the recipient of one of this year’s Minister’s Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Improving Literacy and Numeracy.  Carmel is the manager of the LLNP for Centacare Employment and Training in Perth.  She is widely known as an exceptional mentor and teacher.  Her award is richly deserved.


Issues in Adult Literacy/General Education

WAALC is deeply concerned about several adult literacy and general education issues.  In particular, we endorse ACAL’s position regarding attempts to give a more ‘vocational’ focus and structure to adult literacy/general education.  As educators, we are not convinced there is anything useful or practicable to be gained from classifying literacy and numeracy under the rubric of ‘employability skills’. Nor do we approve of the rewriting of general education courses in training package format.  We do not accept the proposition that this is required by AQTF Standards 27 and 28.  On the contrary, those standards clearly exempt adult literacy/general education from any such requirement.


We are also strongly opposed to the continuing insistence that qualified teachers working in adult literacy must have Certificate IV TAA.  In our view, those teachers already have competencies relevant to their work at a much higher level than Certificate IV, which anyway deals specifically with workplace training and assessment and is designed for RTO staff, not qualified as teachers, who deliver training packages.  Again, we reject the proposition that AQTF Standard 7 requires qualified teachers to obtain Certificate IV TAA. The standard clearly exempts those with ‘equivalent competencies’ (and by implication higher level competencies) from that requirement.  


Furthermore, we believe that insisting on Certificate IV disadvantages part-time and casual teachers who may have to pay for the training out of their own pockets.  It also disadvantages volunteer literacy tutors working for community organizations.  Many of those tutors accept the need for training, but have found little to help them in Certificate IV.


Strengthening Links with ACAL

Our association with ACAL allows us to keep abreast of what other states are thinking and doing about important issues of the day and make our own contribution to debate.  Literacy Link plays an essential part in keeping us provided with thought-provoking articles and letters and a forum for our own ideas and opinions.  ACAL’s newsletter, e-News, gives us up-to-the-minute information about new developments and achievements in adult literacy Australia-wide.    These publications are especially important to members of WAALC because the cost of travel often prevents us from attending interstate functions and activities.  One way of strengthening our association with ACAL is to increase the number of our contributions to both publications, and that is what we have resolved to do.  Our aim as an organization is to provide at least one thought-provoking piece to Literacy Link every year.  We will also encourage WA practitioners to submit articles to Literacy Link and contribute to the correspondence pages.  On a broader front, we will of course assist wherever possible in promoting and implementing ACAL’s goals as set out in the current Workplan (2006/7).


We wish ACAL and our colleagues throughout Australia every success over the next 12 months. 


James Plumridge

State Representative for Western Australia

Email bljp@westnet.com.au

28 September 2006