Rio Tinto, WA State Library improves literacy of 600,000 families

The book cubby is an interactive exhibition of books written and/or illustrated by children, travelling throughout metro and regional WA. Image: Better Beginnings

Rio Tinto and the State Library of Western Australia are recipients of the Western Australian Pinnacle Award for their 15-year of work in improving literacy rates across the state.

The Better Beginnings family literacy program has seen the language competence of Western Australian children, when entering school for the first time, rise from well below the national standard in 2009 to being on par with children Australia-wide in 2015.

The program has provided 700,000 reading packs to over 600,000 Western Australian families across the state over a course of 15 years.

It has reached 96 per cent of families with newborn babies and 98 per cent of kindergarten students across the state.

Better Beginnings is funded by the Western Australia Government, local governments in the state and Rio Tinto.

The mining company recently committed a further $1.42 million over the next five years to ensure the program’s continuity in delivering literacy support to Western Australian young children.

“Literacy is particularly important, which in turn is why our public libraries are so important,” Western Australia’s Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman said.

“This long-term partnership between Rio Tinto and the State Library is a model for how the government and private sector can work together to achieve common goals, and I commend Rio Tinto for its commitment in supporting Western Australian families.”

Rio Tinto and the State Library have won and donated a leadership and management training prize, worth $20,000, for winning the corporate social responsibility excellence category at the Pinnacle Awards.

The two organisations have chosen the Smith Family for its contribution to the delivery of the State Library’s literacy strategy by supporting school age children, particularly those from low socioeconomic families, with the resources they need to attend school.