Indigenous literacy training for the 'Real Jobs' program.
In the Mines
"Hi, my name is Nick, I work in the mines about 220 kilometres from Kalgoorlie. I'm 52 years old and I can't read. They want me to put in for a supervisor's position because of my experience but it means filling out reports and forms. So I had to back away. But its worth about fifty thousand dollars a year."
"I read so slowly that I forget what I have read. It's a real struggle trying to work the works out. Sometimes I have to go through four or five different meanings to see which one fits, y'know, because I don't know what word it is so I have to guess and read it again. A sentence can take me a minute and even then I'm not sure."
"Bloody frustrating. 52 years old, you'd think I would have learnt, but no-one ever showed me. I wouldn't mind getting out of the pit, drive a desk for a while. We are all like that, in the pit."
Indigenous literacy is a key issue in achieving better employment for Indigenous adults.
At the Ayers Rock Resort, Indigenous adults are learning to read with Vocational Literacy.
The Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) purchased the Ayers Rock Resort (Yulara) to establish the National Indigenous Training Academy (NITA). NITA provides training in hospitality industries for Indigenous workers, and the students at NITA are drawn from around Australia.
At the time of the purchase only a few Indigenous workers were employed at the Resort. It has been a significant goal to change the workforce of the Resort to at least 50% Indigenous employees, drawn from the local Mutitjulu community.
While the Mutitjulu people had exposure to spoken English because of the tourist activity, it was acknowledged that the level of English literacy and numeracy in the community made employment in the Resort very challenging.
We were invited to the Resort to commence an Adult Literacy Program. Over the course of a week, we taught NITA staff the basics of phonics decoding, and demonstrated the teaching process to a number of different groups (men and women) and identified individuals who had sufficient literacy skills to become teachers.
Vocational Literacy's programs do not need to be taught by a qualified teacher. The program is effective for both adults and children, and is age and gender neutral.
It was also noted that the local community has good access to mobile internet, and an ongoing Literacy Program can be developed on this backbone.