The Australian National Early Literacy Summit

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7 and 8 March 2016, Hotel Realm, Canberra

Government, educators, researchers, libraries and early years service providers will break new ground in collaborative engagement around this most vital national priority – future generations with the literacy skills to fight disadvantage, and advance Australia’s interests in the global knowledge economy.

Brought to you by the Australian Library and Information Association, the Australian Public Library Alliance, National and State Libraries Australasia, Early Childhood Australia and ARACY, and hosted by journalist and presenter Jennifer Byrne, this is your opportunity to participate and help drive the national agenda. 


Post Summit Summary







Meet others working towards better literacy in Australia, learn what they're doing,  share ideas and make some fantastic professional connections.

pre-Summit discussion - WHAT YOU SAID

The aim of the National Early Literacy Summit is to spark debate about what a National Early Literacy Strategy for Australia might include and how it would help deliver the best results, building on existing work such as the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association’s Declaration of Literacy in 21st Century Australia and Victorian Libraries' Reading and Literacy for AllWith this aim in mind, we asked you to be part of the pre-Summit discussion and to answer five short questions. Download this summary of what was said.


Download the program here.


 Jennifer Byrne will be the guest MC for the summit.      

 Jennifer Byrne started her career in journalism at a young age as a Cadet Journalist with The Age newspaper in Melbourne. At the age of 23, she was posted to San Francisco as The Age's West Coast Correspondent.

 In 1981, Jennifer moved to Sydney as Founding Reporter with Channel Nine's Sunday program and five years later, moved across to 60 Minutes. In 1993 she became the morning presenter of ABC's Radio 2BL and in 1995 was appointed Publishing Director of Reed Books.

 In 1999, having spent a couple of years as Stand-in Presenter for both ABC-TV's 7.30 Report and Lateline, Jennifer took up the anchor's job at Foreign Correspondent, and spent five years as Host and Reporter, travelling with the program. She also continued to write features and book reviews and regularly hosted Radio National's Breakfast program.

 Jennifer moved on from Foreign Correspondent in 2003 to join The Bulletin magazine as a Senior Writer, working on the weekly 'Lunch With...' column, for which she won several national awards. In May 2006 she developed and launched a new book program, The Book Club, which she still hosts along with Jennifer Byrne Presents, a series of literary specials and interviews.

 Jennifer continues to work in print, with a monthly book column in The Australian Women's Weekly, and regular appearances in leading newspaper and travel magazines.



  • Senator Bridget McKenzie, Senator for Victoria, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment - representing Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training, Australian Commonwealth Government. 



  • Professor Edward Melhuish, University of Oxford Department of Education
    Professor Melhuish has been advising the Australian federal government on matters related to pre-school age education, funding and policy. He has been a scientific advisor to research councils and governments in the UK, Norway, Finland, Portugal, South Korea, Chile, and Canada. He is also a consultant to the European Commission, OECD and WHO.
    He was recently interviewed about Australia's approach to pre - school education policy on ABC TV's Lateline program.

    In July 2015, Australia's COAG announced a review of Australia's approach to the pre school years. "The first point is that outcomes at school are fundamentally determined by things that happen before children even get through the school gate." Jay Weatherill SA Premier. 



  • Samantha Page, CEO of Early Childhood Australia - Early Childhood Australia are the peak early childhood advocacy organisation, acting in the interests of young children, their families and those in the early childhood field. Sam Page will fill us in on the Australian landscape and ECA's approach to and concerns around early literacy.


  • Kevin Robbie, CEO of United Way - United Way is an international organisation dedicated to improving life outcomes for disadvantaged communities. In Australia they include a focus on early literacy through their Ready to Read program incorporating the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.


  • Prof Misty Adoniou, Senior Lecturer in Language, Literacy and TESL from University of Canberra - Prof Adoniou will speak about what it is to be 'literate', and why then the pre-school years (0-5) matter so much. Dr Adoniou is a popular contributor to The Conversation.


  • Jane Cowell, State Library of Queensland. Jane will speak about SLQ's recent successful bid for funding, to set up state-wide library-run early literacy initiatives, addressing the education priorities of the QLD Government's QLD Plan. She'll tell us what they're doing and why.



  • Margaret Allen, CEO and State Librarian, State Library of Western Australia


  • Sue Hill, CEO, Raising Literacy Australia - In 2002, Sue was part of an organisation that instigated the development of The Big Book Club in conjunction with SA Public Library Service and in 2006 launched the Little Big Book Club.  In 2014 she steered the strategic direction and name change of the organisation to become Raising Literacy Australia Inc. 


  • Jackie French, multi-award winning children's author - Australian Children's Laureate and Senior Australian of the Year 2015, the inimitable Jackie French, will speak about the importance of literacy and her vast experience in the area.



  • Dr Emilia Djonov, Macquarie University's Institute of Early Childhood - Emilia has been working with the State Library of NSW on a research project that will result in a variety of significant outcomes for early literacy programs. In particular, building a set of core literacy competencies that all young children should be given opportunities to develop prior to school. Libraries and others will then be able to use these to benchmark their early literacy programs. She will give us an overview of the project aims, activities and expected outputs.


  • Grant Webb, Australian Literacy Educators' Association President -  Over the past 30 years Grant has undertaken a number of teaching and leadership roles across a variety of educational contexts, within Queensland, nationally and internationally. Grant has represented ALEA in a number of international forums, previously chairing the International Development in Oceania Committee (IDOC) and currently working as the External Evaluator of the Active Teaching and Learning Approaches in Sri Lanka. Grant will explore the importance of an educated early literacy educator.



Come along to see a variety of literacy programs and organisations 'show and tell' what they do and learn how you can work with them. There will be plenty to discover and share. Make some great contacts and expand your professional network.

Charles Sturt University

Children's Book Council of Australia, ACT Branch

Copyright Agency

Early Childhood Australia

Harper Collins  Australia


Honey Ant Readers

Hume Libraries

Literacy Planet

Paint the town REaD

Raising Literacy Australia

Smith Family

State Library of Victoria

State Library of Western Australia

Story Box Library

The Specific Learning Difficulties Association (SPELD)

United Way



The event is being held in Canberra at the Hotel Realm - 18 National Circuit, Barton, ACT.

Please check their website for information on parking and facilities.

Accommodation is available onsite at Hotel Realm and has offered delegates a special discount of 15% off best available rates. Please phone +61 2 6163 1888 to book, quoting the discount code LITSUMMIT.

Alternatively the Novotel, Canberra has offered delegates a special rate of $189.00 per night. Please phone +61 2 6245 5000 to book, quoting the discount code ALI070316.


Registrations now closed.

Hotel Realm
18 National Circuit
ALIA Event
Monday 07 March 2016 12:00am to Saturday 24 July 2021 11:27am
Contact details