Life Without Barriers casts campaign to boost literacy rates in young people

Dale Murray, Director of Education at Life Without Barriers

To help improve literacy rates in Australian young people in out-of-home care (OOHC), Life Without Barriers launched the 2022 Hook into Books campaign. Hook into Books promotes a love of stories: sharing, telling, reading and listening to stories with young people in out-of-home care to enhance their literacy skills and give them a solid foundation for future learning.

Why are books essential to children and young people?

Director of Education at Life Without Barriers, Dale Murray said, as a major provider of out-of-home care for children and young people in Australia, Life Without Barriers recognises the role they play to ensure children and young people have the best start in life, but also to support them to reach their educational goals. “Education engagement and attainment is one of the most protective factors for children in out-of-home care now and in their futures.”

“Books provide kids and families with a place to escape into imaginations, it fosters creativity and bonding. The simple act of getting books into the hand of a child in care has the power to launch greater confidence in education. For children in care, disruptions in placement and past trauma impact a child’s literacy and they can lose access to something as simple as books.”

“Hook into Books provides a focus on working with authors, foster carers and children to provide interesting books and support carers to read with children. It encourages young people to take a break from the day by diving into the imagination books can bring.”

“The more we share, read and listen to stories the better the literacy outcomes are for our children. A successful education journey is essential for a positive future. However, many young people growing up in foster or kinship care are at risk of not achieving their educational potential as they are often impacted by complex histories and challenges,” Mr Murray said.

“This year we are reaching more carers, children and young people in the system by partnering with other OOHC providers in Australia including Berry Street and Key Assets.”

Why is the campaign a much-needed remedy today?

According to the National Assessment Programme Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), 92% of children in OOHC are below the average reading level at the age of seven and in the same cohort, 57% of young people complete 12 years of school (compared to 72 % of peers).

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has identified that children in OOHC have less opportunity to progress to post-secondary education or training and are more likely to experience unemployment and lower wages and enter the criminal justice system.

The campaign is not possible without the support of fantastic authors like Jackie French, Mick Elliot, Hakea Hustler and Carl Merrison, Zoe Norton-Lodge. Yvette Poshoglian and Michelle Worthington. The Hook into Books campaign offers a mix of accessible information, resources, and fun activities to engage and inspire the love of stories and storytelling.

The Hook into Books campaign ends on 1 Oct. 2022. To learn more visit the website.