Abstract: Northern Territory (NT) government policy acknowledges the “need for active participation by all people, including Indigenous people, for the north to achieve ongoing prosperity.” However the majority of Aboriginal adults cannot engage due to low levels of English language, literacy and numeracy (LLN). Aboriginal people constitute 30% of the NT population and more than half speak English a second language (54%). Reading, writing, oral communication in English and numeracy skills remain a persistent challenge and the issue continues to be treated as peripheral, complex and “too hard”. English LLN is central to social capacity building, engaging with the economy, society and systems. Recent consolidation of an NT wide sample of 670 assessments points to very low levels across the NT, with the majority of people falling well below the level required to participate in education and work. The monetary cost of low literacy and the benefits of improvement have never been calculated for the NT. A Strategic Project has been underway to raise awareness, build the evidence base and catalyse change - much remains to be done. Excellent models in service provision exist, with high levels of Indigenous aspiration identified, and there is real momentum for change - but where is the commitment to collective and sustained action by Government, and who has responsibility for adult LLN in the NT?
Allison Stewart, Lorraine Sushames, Fiona Shalley, 2017, “Locked out” and “left behind”: Aboriginal Adult English Literacy and Numeracy in Northern Territory – a call for collective action, Conference Proceedings, viewed 17 September 2019, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=10854.