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The COVID-19 information problem a huge number of Australians are struggling with

Neil Mitchell
Article image for The COVID-19 information problem a huge number of Australians are struggling with

Health messaging is leaving many confused, with estimates that almost half of Australians struggle to understand government communication.

The Reading Writing Hotline has experienced a surge in calls seeking help to interpret COVID-19 testing and vaccination information.

Manager of the Reading Writing Hotline, Vanessa Iles, says it’s a serious problem for a huge number of Australians.

“44 per cent of Australians have got literacy levels that would make it very, very difficult to read the information that they’re providing,” she told Neil Mitchell.

“They’re struggling with health information and they don’t know where to turn, and they’re wanting us to help them interpret it and understand it.”

Ms Iles says health messaging is “written at a very high level”.

“People that write messages, whether they’re government messages or health messages with private clinics … they’re very literate people themselves and so they’re not used to, and they don’t realise … how difficult some people find it,” she said.

Literacy difficulties are exacerbated by the increasing reliance on online forms, which also require users to have digital literacy.

Where easy reading versions of documents are provided with those with limited literacy in mind, they’re often difficult to locate online.

“Those people that need it will never find it where it is,” Ms Iles said.

Press PLAY below to hear more about the problem

Neil Mitchell
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