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4228.0 - Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, Summary Results, Australia, 2006 (Reissue)  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/11/2007  Reissue
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MEDIA RELEASE

November 28, 2007
Embargoed 11.30 am (AEDT)
121/2007

Australia's literacy and life skills: ABS

There are fewer Australians with literacy assessed as being in the lowest category than there were a decade ago, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.
The 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey of Australians aged 15 to 74 years assessed prose literacy (e.g. ability to read newspapers), document literacy (e.g. ability to use bus schedules) as well as numeracy and problem solving skills, and the ability to understand health related information (e.g. first aid advice).

Approximately 17% (2.5 million) of people were assessed at the lowest prose literacy level (down from 20% in 1996), while 18% (2.7 million) were assessed at the lowest document literacy level (down from 20% in 2006).

Other findings from the survey include:
  • Just over half (54%) of Australians aged 15 to 74 years were assessed as having the prose literacy skills needed to meet the complex demands of everyday life and work. Results were similar for document literacy with 53% and numeracy with 47% achieving this level.
  • Women had higher scores for prose and health literacy, while men had higher scores for document literacy and numeracy.
  • Across all the different types of literacy, people with jobs were more likely to be assessed as having the skill levels needed to meet the complex demands of everyday life and work than were the unemployed or those not in the labour force.
  • The median weekly income for people assessed with the highest level of prose literacy was $890 compared to $298 for those assessed at the lowest level.
  • People who had completed a qualification generally had higher scores.
  • Half (50%) of recent migrants whose first language was not English had the document literacy skills to meet the complex demands of everyday life and work compared to 32% a decade ago.
  • Internationally, Australia was ranked in the middle across the different types of literacy with results closely aligned with those from Canada.

More information can be found in Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, Summary Results, Australia 2006 (cat. no. 4228.0).

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