Adult Media Literacy in Australia: Attitudes, Experiences & Needs
The Adult Media Literacy in Australia report, provides the first comprehensive analysis into how Australians understand and use different forms of traditional and digital media.
The report involves a collaboration between researchers at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology and the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra.
In November and December 2020 the research team surveyed a sample of 3,510 adult Australians to understand the different types of media they use, the value they place on different media activities, their confidence in their own media abilities and their access to media literacy support.
The findings show that most Australians use several different types of media each day, they believe a diverse range of media activities are important in their lives, but their confidence in their own media abilities is unexpectedly low. The findings also show that far too many Australians don’t have access to any media literacy support when they need it.
The report co-authors argue that given how integral media is to all aspects of our lives, far more needs to be done to address the needs of groups who are the least confident about their media abilities and who have access to the least support. The findings also show that increasing media literacy can yield direct benefits for increasing people’s civic engagement.
The report is part of the Adult Media Literacy in Australia research project, which was funded by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) in the United States.
Less than half of Australian adults know how to identify misinformation online - The Conversation, 14 April 2021
Dr Simon Chambers
Simon Chambers’ research background is in quantitative and qualitative cultural sociology, with a particular interest in the dynamics of cultural fields and musical taste. He has previously worked at ABC Radio National and Classic FM and is currently a consultant analyst at both APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre. He has also worked on a range of Australian Research Council projects spanning Australian cultural fields, the value of music exports and the development of personalised recommendation algorithms.
Professor Michael Dezuanni
Michael Dezuanni is Program Leader for Digital Inclusion and Participation in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology. He is also a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child. Michael has been a media literacy educator in schools, a past president of Australian Teachers of Media (Queensland), a teacher educator in media literacy, and he was the expert adviser to the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) for the development of Media Arts in the Australian Curriculum.
Dr Tanya Notley
Tanya Notley has 20 years of experience working with NGOs, public institutions, universities and the United Nations in the area of communication, technology and social change. She currently leads the project, Media Literacy in Australia. She is also a Chief Investigator on a new national project to support the digital inclusion of low income households (led by Michael Dezuanni at QUT). Tanya collaborates with a number of organisations to address media literacy, human rights and social justice and to design communication initiatives for social impact. She is the Deputy Chair of the Australian Media Literacy Alliance (AMLA).
Sora Park is the Associate Dean of Research at the Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra. She was former Director of the News & Media Research Centre. She is the project leader of the Digital News Report Australia, and author of Digital Capital (2017, Palgrave). She has published widely on the impact of digital technology on audiences, with a special focus on digital and social exclusion and the distribution of opportunities and privileges in society. She has extensive international experience in policy research and consultancy.
Our lives are now so saturated with information and media that the ability to use media effectively is a pre-requisite for full participation in society.
Media literacy refers to people’s ability to critically engage with information and media in all aspects of their life. At the heart of this critical engagement is the ability to critique media and information as well as media technologies and business models. This includes knowing the way these produce, challenge and subvert relationships, representations and power.
We conducted the first national media literacy survey of adult Australians and found that although most people believe that media literacy is critical to many aspects of their life, many have no access to support when they need it.
This symposium includes synchronous events in Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra. Each event features a panel discussion with researchers and practitioners about the state of media literacy in Australia. Key findings from our research will follow the panel discussion.
We hope that these events will help to build momentum and support collaboration to ensure that media literacy research can inform policy and practice at a time when media literacy is now on the Australia policy agenda.
The event speakers will discuss how media literacy research can help to address key challenges we face in Australian society including the widespread online circulation of misinformation, social and racial inequality, and a lack of trust in our democratic systems.
- Dr Tanya Notley, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University
- Professor Sora Park, News and Media Research Center, University of Canberra
- Professor Michael Dezuanni, Digital Media Research Center (DMRC), Queensland University of Technology
11.00 – 12.00: International Keynote, Associate Professor Paul Mihailidis, Emerson College, United States
Civic Media Literacies: Pursuing equitable and just civic futures in a time of rampant media cynicism
Around the world today, societies are increasingly navigating fractured media ecosystems. As we increasingly rely on information and communication from platforms that conflate fact with fiction, and prioritise sensational information over that which is credible and complex, we struggle with increased distrust of and cynicism towards our public institutions, not least of all media institutions. As media technologies continue to develop at ever rapid paces, providing people with the skills and dispositions to navigate these environments is a civic and democratic necessity. It is also a public health priority. This keynote talk will introduce civic media literacies as a pathway forward to help people better navigate abundant information ecosystems and advocate for community priorities. Civic media literacies, I argue, also provide a frame within which to prioritise equity and social justice initiatives with and through media infrastructures.
Paul Mihailidis is an associate professor of civic media and journalism and assistant dean in the school of communication at Emerson College in Boston, MA, where he teaches media literacy, civic media, and community activism. He is founding program director of the MA in Media Design, Senior Fellow of the Emerson Engagement Lab, and faculty chair and director of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, CNN, and others. Paul has published 7 books and over 50 articles on the intersection of media literacy, civic media and participation in digital culture. His most recent book, Civic Media Literacies: Re-Imagining Human Connection in an Age of Digital Abundance (Routledge 2018) explores the ways in which media literacy interventions can prioritise civic impact. Paul has won numerous faculty awards at Emerson College and the Researcher of the Year award by the National Association of Media Literacy Education. He sits on numerous Editorial Boards, and the advisory board for iCivics and the Engagement Lab.
12.30 – 2.00: Panel Discussion, National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra
Panel: News, misinformation and media literacy
Much of the attention in relation to media literacy education in Australia has been focused on school-aged children. The media literacy needs of adults and disadvantaged sections of the community have only just started to generate interest in academia and policy discourse. However, educating the general public is not an easy task. This panel will discuss their experiences in media literacy education and research to consider the role of social infrastructures in educating the public in media literacy, focusing primarily on interventions in misinformation. The panel will explore how a networked approach can tackle the issue of media literacy among adults, where collaboration is encouraged, and existing networks are utilised to deliver successful community-based programs.
Opening address: Nancy Eyers, Acting CEO National Film and Sound Archives
Facilitator: Kerry McCallum, Director, News & Media Research Centre
- Pulling Together – The need for an Australian Media & Information Literacy Network (Caroline Fisher, University of Canberra)
- How teaching journalism skills can boost media literacy (Saffron Howden)
- AAP FactCheck – Fighting fakes and misinformation (Peter Bodkin, Australian Associated Press)
- Fact and fiction – trust us, we know the difference (Sue McKerracher, Australian Library and Information Association)
2.30 – 3.30: Report Launch, National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra
Adult Media Literacy in Australia: Attitudes, Experiences, and Needs
In November and December 2020 we surveyed a sample of 3,510 adult Australians to understand the different types of media they use, the value they place on different media activities, their confidence in their own media abilities and their access to media literacy support. The findings show that most Australians use several different types of media each day, they believe a diverse range of media activities are important in their life, but their confidence in their own media abilities is unexpectedly low. We also find that far too many Australians don’t have access to any media literacy support when they need it. The findings demonstrate that if we accept that media is integral to all aspects of our lives, far more needs to be done to address the needs of groups who are the least confident about their media abilities and who have access to the least support. The findings also show that increasing media literacy can yield direct benefits for increasing people’s civic engagement. This presentation of our key findings will be delivered by Professor Sora Park in Canberra, Dr Tanya Notley in Sydney and Professor Michael Dezuanni in Brisbane.