A staggering 43% of Australia’s adult population, or seven million people struggle with literacy. A further 53%, or 9 million Australians, are also challenged by common numeracy, unable to interpret a timetable, calculate change or follow a detailed recipe.
SBS’s empowering and uplifting observational documentary series, Lost for Words, returns for a second series on Wednesdays from 12 October at 7.30pm, shining a light on Australia’s staggeringly low literacy and, for the first time, numeracy levels.
Literacy advocate, Jay Laga’aia returns to host and narrate this three-part documentary series, which brings together nine more courageous Australians hoping to overcome their struggle to read, write and do basic sums and undergo a journey of self-discovery that will ultimately change their lives forever.
Once again led by President of the Australian Council for Adult Literacy Jo Medlin and adult literacy teacher Adam Nobilia, this season’s brave new adult learners go back to the classroom to take part in nine weeks of intensive tailored classes as well as demanding real-world challenges that will put their newfound reading, writing and numeracy skills to the test and to break down the social stigma that surrounds adult literacy problems.
From a 72-year-old grandmother wanting to be able to spell her grandchildren’s names, to another wanting to write a letter to his wife or another being able to achieve a workplace promotion, each student has a different and highly personal motivations for wanting to improve their reading, writing and numeracy skills.
SBS Head of Documentaries, Joseph Maxwell says: “The first season of Lost for Words shone a light
on a huge issue within Australia that most people simply don’t know about. This deeply emotional and uplifting show is a powerful reminder of how documentaries can entertain and also inspire real lasting change in our society.”
Host Jay Laga’aia says: “The first season of Lost For Words triggered such an outpouring of support from the viewing audience that it really reinforced the decisions made by our brave first batch of adult students to put their fears to the side in order to face their demons and take back a part of their lives that they hid from the community, co-workers, friends and even family.
The mission this time is the same, to help nine adult students who suffer from Literacy and Numeracy issues overcome and conquer their fears and in the long run, enable to them to realise that they are valued members of society and that they need to believe that they deserve better if they’re prepared to work for it.
Lost for Words will make you realise that not everyone is perfect but it’s that imperfection that makes everyone special.”
Jo Medlin, President of the Australian Council for Adult Literacy and Lost for Words Teacher says: “Season 1 of Lost for Words had an unprecedented effect on the world of adult literacy! We continue to be contacted by hundreds of viewers inspired to take the first step to improving their literacy, and others who have been shocked by the reality of adult literacy in Australia and are asking how they can help. All want to share the admiration they feel for our brave adult learners, whom they have truly embraced! With well over a third of our adult population experiencing issues with day-to-day reading, writing and maths, Lost for Words has been more effective in bringing this issue to the public than anything I’ve experienced - and I’ve been working with this crucial issue for 30 years!
Season 2 is another significant milestone for Australian adult literacy, providing the opportunity to raise even more awareness in the general community whilst changing the lives of the brave participants. On International Literacy Day it’s important to draw attention to the fact that literacy issues are experienced by many Australian adults on a day-to-day basis.”
Tony De La Peña, Executive Producer says: “Working on this series was a real eye opener, seeing first-hand what an impact low literacy and numeracy skills can have on people’s lives. There is such a stigma attached to not being able to read or write, that these people carry it as a hidden shame. Over the series the students learnt strategies to help them in everyday life, and with this came a whole newfound confidence – they literally walked out of class on the last day looking like different people. It was a real privilege to be part of a program which truly changed people’s lives.”