Literacy, resilience and desistence

Literacy as a pathway to resilience and desistence

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Literacy is often discussed in terms of ‘educational outcomes’. It is rarely presented as a social determinant of health in scientific literature. However, literacy is crucial to one’s ability to navigate the complexities of early and adult life. Being able to read and communicate supports one’s capacity to sustain all other social determinants of health (sustained and continuing education, employment, housing, access health services, administer medication, etc).

Illiteracy was recently documented as a crucial vulnerability to veering into further forms of deprivation, as well as a crucial skill for acquiring the necessary critical ability to avoid criminal careers. Although the first research establishing the link between low literacy and incarceration occurred in the early 1980 in Australia, the topic only recently resurfaced over the past 5 years, with researchers noting that 60% of Australian inmates have ‘low functionality literacy’, and 85% of juveniles in the criminal justice system have low literacy levels.

Numbers of Tasmania are likely to be higher, since the latest census estimated that 48% of the general Tasmanian population have low levels of literacy.

The project looks at the crucial need to establish literacy as a fundamental component of public health, and as a key to acquiring the necessary skills towards desistence and resilience. It sits at the centre of new calls for 100% literacy in Tasmania, and within the recent call from the Minister to raise levels of literacy for the state.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Isabelle Bartkowiak-Théron


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Isabelle Bartkowiak-Théron to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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