About Us

About Us

The Read Write Now program exists to improve the literacy of adults who have left the school system and have inadequate literacy for everyday life demands. Help is available to improve reading, writing, maths, study or basic computer skills. The Program is only available in Western Australia.

About Read Write Now

In 1976, Bill Devereux, a member of the Adult Literacy Board in England visited Perth and inspired the formatoin of an Executive Committee to oversee the establishment of a program using volunteers to tutor in adult literacy. Volunteer tutoring began in 1977 to support apprentices with literacy needs. Demand grew quickly and the concept of establishing Volunteer Coordinators to operate groups began in a small way. 

In May 1999, the service known so far a s Volunteer Tutor Scheme was relaunched with a new name and image to tackle the sense of shame that has surrounded adult literacy. Read Write Now was launched with great fanfare at Kings Park with 250 loyal volunteers attending to show their support.

For over 45 years, Read Write Now has brought literacy to West Australians far and wide. Currently the Program operates in 18 regions throughout the state, including the Perth metropolitan area and regional centres Albany, Avon, Bunbury, Collie, Esperance and Katanning. 


Read Write Now changes lives through literacy

A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2019) has found, “...more than one in five Australians can at most complete very simple reading or mathematical tasks...". The Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey (2006) showed that 46.8% of the adult population have low literacy levels.

Low literacy levels can restrict adults to low paying jobs and limit opportunities for training or promotion. Perpetuating cycles of low literacy in families can also occur, along with social exclusion as they try to hide this problem from others. The fear of having illiteracy discovered is almost crippling for some adults. Typically they are reluctant to cross the threshold into a formal education institution, as they associate their sense of failure with the school system.

This is where Read Write Now provides a softer option. Volunteer tutors work one-on-one in an informal setting such as a private space in a local library, community centre or coffee shop. The weekly hour and a half session is spent on individual learning programs developed jointly by the tutor and student to meet the goals of the adult student. Tutors rebuild the confidence of the student in their ability to learn and help them to overcome the shame they often feel.

It is not just the thousands of individuals who have sought help who benefit - it is their children, their employers, the local community, the WA economy and ultimately society as a whole. Higher levels of literacy build the social capital of communities, leading to greater participation and community resilience.


Who are the Students?

Over Read Write Now's extensive years of service, thousands of individuals have worked with volunteer tutors to achieve their personal and professional goals. These are just some examples:

Peter, who was approaching 60 years of age, was in fear of losing his job as his literacy problems prevented him from keeping up with workplace training. His tutor developed a learning program over a period of 2 years based initially on the forms, regulations and safety instructions in Peter's workplace. Peter was not only able to keep his job, he was given a promotion and no longer had to worry about his worst fear, “...to be left on the scrap heap".

Maria had lived in Western Australia for 30 years but never had the opportunity to learn to read and write in English. Breaking the mould of the traditional Italian grandmother, Maria now wanted more in life than cooking and fussing over her family. Maria wanted to learn to read and write to obtain her driver's licence, use a street directory and telephone book so she could do voluntary work in the community and later some part-time study. Working with her tutor on a learning program based on her needs, Maria was able to achieve her goals.

Brett, an apprentice plumber, was very competent on the job, but he struggled with reading and studying and his employer had given him the ultimatum to pass his TAFE exams. Brett sought the help of a Read Write Now tutor who developed a literacy program based on Brett's course materials.

Rebecca always thought she was stupid because she could not spell and was a very weak reader. Her family were almost all illiterate and she was determined not to let that happen with her own children. When her daughter started school Rebecca was too scared to write a sick note, fearing that teachers would laugh at her. Two years after she started working with a tutor she enrolled at College, which led to eventually doing her university entrance exams. She started at Curtin University and graduated with distinctions in most subjects. Rebecca now writes tenders for a building company - very successful tenders too! Her children are now adults working in well paid jobs and forever grateful that Rebecca asked for help all those years ago to improve not only her life, but theirs as well.