Adult Media Literacy in Australia

The blank space on a worksheet reading ‘Media Literacy is….’ has been filled out with the word ‘Freedom’ in strong, bold lettering. A hand holding a pencil is shown in the lower right corner putting the finishing touches on the word.


The ability to access, analyse, evaluate, and create different forms of communication is essential for full participation in civic life.The Adult Media Literacy in Australia Project (2020-2021) investigated adult media literacy levels, needs and gaps in Australia. Working in partnership with the Australian Media Literacy Alliance (AMLA), the research team implemented a national survey and carried out expert interviews. This research was then used to consult with 89 organisations from across Australia to develop a vision and plan for a national strategy for media literacy that will benefit all Australians.

Background and significance

The COVID pandemic has illustrated the risk of misinformation to society. This has put media literacy on the agenda of governments around the world.

The Adult Media Literacy in Australia project (2020-2021) was led by Associate Professor Tanya Notley in partnership with Professor Sora Park from the University of Canberra and Professor Michael Dezuanni from the Queensland University of Technology.  It was funded by the National Association for Literacy Education (NAMLE) in the United States as part of an international study.

The project was supported by the founding members of the Australian Media Literacy Alliance:

  • ABC Education
  • Australian Library and Information Association
  • Museum of Australian Democracy
  • National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
  • National and State Libraries Australasia
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • Western Sydney University

National Benefit

Prior to this project, very little was known about adult media literacy in Australia and no nationally representative data existed. This prevented civil society organisations, public institutions, and governments from designing evidence-based responses to address needs and challenges. To address this, the project:

  • Carried out two consultation workshops with 17 stakeholder organisations to inform the design of a national survey (n=3510) to produce baseline data.
  • Conducted 25 interviews with social service organisations who work closely with groups who were found to be at risk of having a lower level of media literacy.
  • Consulted with Federal government and 89 organisations to develop a pathway for a national media literacy strategy.
  • Hosted a national media literacy research symposium across three states (Brisbane, Canberra, and Sydney).

This project is the largest adult media literacy research study ever carried out in Australia. It has supported a shared understanding of media literacy needs and challenges and provided the momentum for stakeholders to partner with AMLA to cultivate collective, effective, and evidence-based solutions.

The research informed a national consultation process designed to identify a pathway forward to advance the Media Literacy of all Australians.  Six workshops were hosted, involving 121 people representing 89 organisations from every state and territory in Australia. This resulted in the report, Towards a National Strategy for Media Literacy, which was presented to Federal Government October 2021.

Project partner, the Australian Media Literacy Alliance, will now build on this research and engagement to develop the capacity of stakeholders to advocate for and deliver change, especially for those most at risk of having a low level of media literacy.

Research Team

  • Associate Professor Tanya Notley, Western Sydney University
  • Associate Professor Michael Dezuanni, Associate Director, Digital Media Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology
  • Associate Professor Sora Park, Associate Dean of Research and Associate Professor of Communication, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra.

The research team will work in partnership with the Australian Media Literacy Alliance.

Report Outputs

Published Reports

Notley, T., Chambers, S., Park, S., Dezuanni, M. 2021, Adult Media Literacy in Australia: Attitudes, Experiences and Needs. Western Sydney University, Queensland University of Technology and University of Canberra.

Park, S., Lee. J. Y., Atkinson, S and Su, J. (2021). Media Literacy in Australia: A Qualitative Study. Canberra: News & Media Research Centre, University of Canberra.

Dezuanni, M., Notley. T., Di Martino, L. (2021). Towards a National Strategy for Media Literacy. Research report. Australian Media Literacy Alliance.

Online Article

Notley, T., Chambers, S., Park, S., Dezuanni, M. 2021, Less than half of Australian adults know how to identify misinformation online, The Conversation.


The National Association for Media Literacy Education (opens in a new window) (NAMLE). Support for this research project is made possible through a grant from Facebook.

Period: 2020-2021

Project website: (opens in a new window)

Contact: Dr Tanya Notley