Hundreds tune in to turn up the VOLUME on reading in Australia

On Thursday 21 September, Australia Reads was proud to host VOLUME – a national reading symposium dedicated to building Australia as a reading nation.

The full-day, online symposium was hosted by author, curator, and city-maker Jess Scully, and featured a broad range of speakers from across the literary, advocacy, and social change sectors.

Australia Reads were thrilled to have over 1,000 live views from participants across Australia and abroad – demonstrating the interest and passion for building a stronger reading culture in Australia.

The day opened with an inspiring keynote from Yuwaalaraay storyteller and performer Nardi Simpson, followed by an overview of the current state of reading in Australia by Anna Burkey from Australia Reads.

Nardi Simpson delivers the opening keynote at VOLUME

Dr Jan Zwar chaired a fascinating discussion with Professor Robyn Ewing AM, Indigenous Literacy Foundation CEO Ben Bowen, and Anita Planchon of Libraries Tasmania. They explored the ‘roadblocks’ to reading in Australia – touching on ideas of access, choice, and stigmas around reading.

The symposium shone a spotlight on successful national reading programs from the UK in a series of interviews with representatives from the National Literacy Trust, Scottish Book Trust, and The Reading Agency.

Panelists Jan Zwar, Anita Planchon, Ben Bowen, and Professor Robyn Ewing discuss the ‘Roadblocks to Reading’

Participants also heard from experts from across behavioural science, social innovation, advertising and marketing to unpack the ‘elements of success’ behind social change campaigns, with Nithya Solomon, Mark Chenery and Sarah Kneebone sharing their expertise.

A series of lightning talks throughout the day showcased examples of innovative engagement and effective change-making. Speakers included former Greens Senator Scott Ludlum, Digital Rights Watch Chair Lizzie O’Shea, and Dr Bronwyn Reddan from the Teen Reading project at Deakin University, with recurring themes of community building and storytelling emerging.

The day closed with Jess Scully chairing a rigorous and thoughtful discussion about the future of reading in Australia. Anna Burkey, arts consultant Kate Larsen, BookPeople CEO Robbie Egan, and behavioural science expert Sarah Kneebone shared their take, with online viewers also sharing their visions of what a ‘reading nation’ could look like.

Jess Scully chairs the closing panel with Anna Burkey, Robbie Egan, Kate Larsen and Dr Sarah Kneebone

We’d like to thank all our brilliant speakers for sharing their thoughts and expertise with us, and to everyone who tuned in throughout the day.

Australia Reads is grateful to the support of Creative Australia for enabling us to put on this event – and looks forward to continuing our work to build Australia as a reading nation.

Missed the symposium? You can re-watch the VOLUME livestream via our website.