Release type: Joint Media Release


Australians encouraged to make 2012 a year of reading


The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister
The Hon Peter Garrett MP
Minister for the Arts

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today encouraged children and parents to read together for an hour a week as part of a new national campaign to improve literacy.

The Prime Minister today launched the 2012 National Year of Reading campaign at the National Library of Australia in Canberra, joined by Arts Minister Simon Crean and Minister for School Education Peter Garrett.

The campaign is designed to tackle taboos around illiteracy by promoting a culture of reading in every home, school and workplace.

The Gillard Labor Government has provided $1.3 million towards the campaign which is supported by Australian libraries and their associations, State Governments, community groups and commercial partners.

Children’s brains develop rapidly in their early years and it is widely recognised that sharing books with them before they start school greatly improves their chances of developing good literacy skills.

Other research shows nearly half of all Australians do not have the literacy skills they need to cope with the demands of everyday life and work.

This means millions of adults find it difficult to do everyday tasks such as reading a timetable or following medical instructions.

The 2012 National Year of Reading campaign will highlight the benefits of reading as a life skill and a catalyst for well-being through thousands of local community events held in libraries, schools and workplaces.

Events include children’s competitions, peer-to-peer book reviews, adult book clubs and workplace literacy programs.

The campaign includes a call to action for parents and caregivers to share a book with their children for an hour each week or 10 minutes a day.

It will also challenge Australians to read for one hour on Saturday 25 August 2012.

The Gillard Labor Government is committed to improving literacy for all Australians.

It is providing $540 million under the Smarter Schools National Partnership to deliver sustained improvements in literacy and numeracy.

As well as working to improve literacy for school students, the Government is also investing an additional $182.8 million over four years to improve the language, literacy and numeracy skills of Australian adults.

As part of the National Year of Reading, the Prime Minister and Arts Minister today announced the winners of the Our Story competition for the 8 books that best represented life in our states and territories.

The winners of the Our Story competition are:

  • ACT – Smoke and Mirrors by Kel Robertson
  • NSW – The Idea of Home by John Hughes
  • NT – Listening to Country by Ros Moriarty
  • QLD – The White Earth by Andrew McGahan
  • SA – Time’s Long Ruin by Stephen Orr
  • TAS – Wanting by Richard Flanagan
  • VIC – Well Done, Those Men by Barry Heard
  • WA – Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

For more information on the National Year of Reading or Our Story competition visit

The National Year of Reading will complement Australia’s first National Cultural Policy in almost 20 years which is currently being developed.