A thorny problem for the Hotline

Every day the Hotline puts people in contact with literacy provision for themselves or others, but there are times when every avenue leads to a dead end.

‘Marilyn’ lives in a big country town. She had a disrupted schooling and can only read ‘a little bit’. She has always wanted to learn to read and write properly, but family commitments got in the way until recently. Now her children are all adults, she has more time and is keen to read to her grandkids.

Marilyn has health problems and has to go to a dialysis unit three times a week. She is on a disability pension and has to rely on public transport, and the bus into town only runs a couple of times a day. The only adult literacy classes in town are run by a major provider under the SEE program. The class times clash directly with her dialysis appointments, and to join she needs to be referred by Centrelink. Marilyn’s really worried about signing up for the program because she may lose her benefits if she misses classes, which is more than likely given her medical issues and transport difficulties.

Perhaps a volunteer tutor could work with Marilyn but the local library doesn’t have a tutor program. A distance education program could help but it’s challenging for real beginners like Marilyn, and she doesn’t have any computer skills. There is a print-based distance literacy program but she’d have to pay thousands of dollars as it’s run from another state.

For now, the Hotline is staying in touch with Marilyn and we hope that a solution will become available before long.