Newly launched national strategy highlights the role of libraries in early language and literacy

8 September 2021, Today on International Literacy Day, as a founder member of the National Early Language and Literacy Coalition (NELLC), ALIA joins with nine partner peak bodies to call for the Australian Government to adopt a proposed national early language and literacy strategy.

Developed by the National Early Language and Literacy Coalition, the proposed strategy sets out the scale of the issue; describes what is happening on the ground, in different communities, and puts forward a framework for action. It has been two years in development and has been made possible through funding from the Ian Potter Foundation. Supporters include children’s authors Alison Lester and Ursula Dubosarsky, early language and literacy experts and academics, including Professor Tom Calma and Associate Professor Tanya Serry.

Libraries, especially school and public libraries, already engage with early literacy practices through programming and events. ALIA is encouraging all library staff to support this proposed strategy and lobby their local representatives to adopt it.

According to Sue McKerracher, NELLC Chair and ALIA CEO, research shows that one in five Australian children are developmentally behind in their language skills –before they even start school.

‘Alarmingly, research shows that children who start school behind their peers, often stay behind. The consequences of this may be seen years later in the workforce and in poor health outcomes’, she said.

The full strategy can be read on the NELLC website. You can support the strategy by signing the petition on and by engaging with the NELLC LinkedIn page. Read the NELLC news release on the website.


More information about the National Early Language and Literacy Coalition

The coalition is comprised of the following members:

ALIA; The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation; the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association; Early Childhood Australia; National and State Libraries Australasia; Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; Speech Pathology Australia; The Smith Family; Indigenous Literacy Foundation; ARACY and The Ian Potter Foundation.

Spokespeople available for interview:

  • Sue McKerracher, Chair of the National Early Language & Literacy Coalition (NELLC) & CEO of the Australian Library and Information Association.
  • Associate Professor Tanya Serry, language and literacy expert from La Trobe University
  • Professor Tom Calma, Co-Chair of The Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation
  • Also supporting the campaign children’s authors Alison Lester and Ursula Dubosarsky, Inaugural and Current Australian Children’s Laureates.