Victorian Adult Literacy Basic Education Council
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Victorian Adult Literacy Basic Education Council. VALBEC is a not for profit, volunteer managed, professional organisation that has represented the adult literacy, numeracy and basic education fields in Victoria for over 30 years .

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Victorian Adult Literacy Basic Education Council

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  • Victorian Adult Literacy Basic Education Council

VALBEC is a not for profit, volunteer managed, professional organisation that has represented the adult literacy, numeracy and basic education fields in Victoria for over 30 years.

Our core business is to provide information and professional development support for our members and the wider field. Central to the role of the committee is advocacy and advice on curriculum, government policy and matters that impact on practitioners and learners in Victoria and nationally through our links with ACAL.

Our professional development activities include an annual state conference, twilight forums, workshops and half day forums.

Our flagship journal, Fine Print, is one of only two dedicated adult literacy, language and numeracy journals in Australia.


Building supportive links for low level literacy students between CGEA and VET courses within our organisation.

Morrisons, Mt.Evelyn

Google Maps

The circle of Trust.

VET Coordinator

CGEA Coordinator



CGEA/Literacy Tutor

VET Tutor

Prose literacy distributions, Australia:IALS (1996) and ALLS (2006)


+ 2%

+ 2%

- 3%

Prose literacy level by industry type

A sociocultural perspective...

We never simply just read and write, but read and write in a situated place, with a social identity and history, making meaning of what we read and write though our own particular world paradigm. In other words literacy only makes sense when it reflects our own sociocultural worlds.

(Gee, 2000, p180).

Libraries can be scary places

Alan’s story

Intimidated by the whole idea..

Memories from childhood

Sandra’s story

Her child gave her permission to go the library and read ….

Library helped her make friends in a new community… Learn about education courses….

Case study

Meagan was a mature aged student, had left school early, single parent and disillusioned with education.

Enrolled in CGEA- stopped and started

Successful in CGEA (Support, time and patience)

Enrolled in VET lacked confidence- enrolled in CGEA again. (simultaneous courses)

Entered a library for the first time

Meagan graduated her VET course and is now working as a community carer and in an aged care facility.

“On the first day I felt really embarrassed. I couldn’t do anything and I had to ask for help. It was like I had this mask on my face. I didn’t want to think I was as dumb as I was told I was. So I felt like I had to wear masks all the time and try to be someone else, just as long as it wasn’t me.”

“I have so much more confidence. I can read things around me. For instance, I had never read a menu before. Previously, when I went out to dinner I knew straight away I would just have a chicken parmigana. After all, everybody knows most menus have a chicken parmigana.”

“But now, I have choice. I can read the menu and try different things. I get a great sense of accomplishment because I can write a quick note telling the teacher that my son is wearing those pants today because the other ones are wet.”

“Once you start to study, you understand the word literacy so much more, and you realise you can do it. Sure it means reading and writing but it also means understanding things and understanding the world around you.”

“I think relationships are important to learning”

Says Meagan

How does a librarian “spot” a customer who may have low literacy?

What do they look like?

How libraries can welcome



How libraries can welcome

  • Ask “Can I help you?”

  • Speak “friendly”

  • Use simple language

How libraries can welcome

Start a conversation

Have computers in eye sight so you can see if any one is struggling

Marketing to adults with low literacy

Get to know your local Community Houses “LEARN LOCAL”

Advertise using simple language

Marketing to adults with low literacy

Create events in the library

Ensure events are at low cost and appeal to all

Offer the library space to the community

Ideas for libraries do

  • Story time

  • Interest groups --Inclusion is important

  • Embrace diversity (not just different language groups)

  • Help with using computers

Ideas for libraries do

Audio tapes of books on display

Form relationships with adult literacy teachers

Become teachers in the library

Tell stories of how to use the library

Ideas for libraries do

Offer meeting rooms /spaces computer labs for teachers to use with their students

Open days/Invite literacy classes in

Literacy is social identity

It is the mastery of secondary discourses

(Gee 1991)

Libraries are more than places to access the internet or borrow a book, they are hubs of community identities.

They provide opportunities for people to engage in the community.

Therefore libraries are fertile ground to grow secondary discourses and nurture new identities.

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