Children’s Literacy Strategy

The recent second edition of the State of Bendigo’s Children report (2013) reveals that Bendigo’s children, particularly those in the 0-5 age group, rank lower than the Victorian average on a number of developmental indicators, including language development, cognitive skills, communication and general knowledge (by age 6). Since the first report in 2011, there has also been a decrease in the reading standards of children in years 3 and 5. Overall, literacy and language levels for Greater Bendigo children aged 0 to 5 years are lower than the Victorian average.

The Early Years Literacy and Language Development Strategy and Action Plan has been developed by Communities for Children (C4C) Bendigo, to address these issues. The strategy brings together research, data and stakeholder feedback. This has been collated into an overview of the key issues impacting on literacy and language development for Bendigo’s children and culminates in an Early Years Literacy and Language Development Action Plan for Bendigo. The primary goal of the strategy and action plan are to improve literacy and language development outcomes for children aged 0-5 (particularly 0-3 year olds) across Bendigo from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.

The C4C Early Years Literacy and Language Development Strategy for Bendigo aims to do the following:

  • Articulate the issues and consequences of poor literacy and language skills
  • Identify and summarise key data pertaining to the current situation, locally and nationally, in relation to children’s literacy and language levels
  • Highlight key priorities for improving literacy and language development in Bendigo

Make recommendations for practical actions to address these priorities.

The Action Plan, contained in the second section of the strategy, outlines a number of key recommendations. They include:

  • Establishing an Imagination library for Bendigo, which would provide one book per child per month for the first five years of life
  • Employing two full time literacy workers for Bendigo
  • Developing a media campaign promoting the importance of laughing, talking, reading and playing with your child every day
  • Developing a website for workers and families, listing all local language development programs, initiatives and available resources
  • Establishing a community agreement, whereby all local organisations and businesses sign up to commit to taking two actions per year to support language development in children aged 0-5 in Bendigo
  • Seeking financial support to expand successful local initiatives such as Talking Matters (a free drop-in Speech pathology service) and programs such as Mother Goose, HIPPY, Small Talk, Let’s Read, guerrilla libraries

The strategy also articulates the socio-economic consequences of not addressing children’s literacy. We can invest now, ensuring positive conditions for healthy future development, or pay significantly more later in the form of costly remediation, health care and other interventions, supports and services.

To access the Early Years Literacy and Language Development Strategy, please go to:

www.ncgrl.vic.gov.au/C4C-early-years-literacy

One of the actions identified within the strategy was the development of an early years literacy resource website for parents, support workers and the broader community. This website is now live and can be found at:

http://bendigoreads.com.au/

If you would like to find out more or get involved, please contact:

Sandra Harvey
Language and Literacy Worker Bendigo Health
p: 03 5454 7188
Days of work: Tues, Wed, Thurs
e: shharvey@bendigohealth.org.au

Sue King-Smith
Program Manager, Community Capacity Building Unit
p: 03 5430 1200
m: 0428536802
e: sue.king-smith@anglicarevic.org.au
Days: Mon and Thur (every second Wednesday)