About MultiLit

MultiLit is a private company which was spun out of Macquarie University in 2006. MultiLit is a leading provider of effective literacy instruction in Australasia. Our programs are uniquely placed to be effective because they are all grounded in scientific evidence-based best practice. As a result of being a research initiative of Macquarie University, MultiLit’s publications, professional development and Literacy Centre are continually informed by an ongoing program of research. The research team is led by Emeritus Professor Kevin Wheldall AM. In 2020, MultiLit celebrated its 25th anniversary. For more than two decades, we have provided assistance to thousands of students in a variety of settings, including schools, our own Literacy Centres and community-based literacy projects across Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

Our approach to reading

MultiLit’s approach to improving the literacy skills of struggling students is to combine research and theory with program development and service delivery. The approach we take is non-categorical, which means that we do not focus on the underlying causes or reasons why a child may have failed to make progress in reading. These labels have not been found to be useful in determining how a child can best be helped to learn.

Our approach is to find out what skills students do have and which areas are cause for concern, and to then fill in their knowledge with direct, systematic and intensive teaching and/or tutoring of these skills.

The methods used by MultiLit Pty Ltd are based on over 30 years of research undertaken by members of the MultiLit Research Unit.

MultiLit was coined as an acronym for ‘Making Up Lost Time in Literacy’ in 1995 to refer to the ongoing program of research and development into more effective instruction for low-progress readers conducted by Professor Kevin Wheldall and his colleagues at Macquarie University Special Education Centre. The MultiLit Research Unit was then established to provide a focus for systematic scientific inquiry into how best to meet the instructional needs of students who are struggling to acquire basic reading and related skills, for whatever reason.

One of the products of this enterprise has been the development of the MultiLit Reading Tutor Program. More recently, the focus has turned to the development of small group versions of the program for both younger and older low-progress readers.

MultiLit is more than just the name of a literacy program for low-progress readers. It is an educational approach that has, as its core belief, the conviction that effective instruction is the key to growth in any area of the curriculum. In this sense, MultiLit is more accurately conceptualised as an approach, or a determination, to bring about rapid learning for low-progress students by whatever means scientific research has shown to be most effective. Consequently, it is a continually evolving approach to literacy instruction, changing as more scientific evidence becomes available from either within the MultiLit research team per se or, more generally, from the international scientific reading research community.

MultiLit is a data driven approach to education, employing programs of proven efficacy and continually collecting data on the effectiveness of the programs deployed. By engaging with parents, teachers, schools and government, our aim is to bring about major educational change so that far fewer children are left to struggle in school with inadequate reading and related skills, the skills essential for academic success in all areas.

As well as training parents and teachers to work with low-progress readers, we are also working on community projects in partnership with community organisations and government to bring about fundamental change in the educational prospects of low-progress readers, particularly those from socially disadvantaged and Indigenous backgrounds.

Our founders

Founder and Director, Emeritus Professor Kevin Wheldall AM

Prior to his retirement from Macquarie University at the end of 2011, Emeritus Professor Kevin Wheldall, AM served as Professor and Director of Macquarie University Special Education Centre (MUSEC) for over twenty years. He continues to serve as Chairman of the Board (and as a director) of MultiLit Pty Ltd, a university spin-off company established in 2006, and was the Director of the MultiLit Research Unit from 2006 to 2024.

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Founder, Dr Robyn Wheldall

Until her retirement from Macquarie University at the end of 2011, Robyn was a Research Fellow at Macquarie University Special Education Centre (MUSEC), where she now continues as an Honorary Fellow. Prior to being a Research Fellow, Robyn was the Research and Development Manager at MUSEC. She is a founding director of MultiLit Pty Ltd, a university spin-off company, and is also the Director of the MultiLit Research Unit. 

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Founder and Managing Director, Iain Rothwell
BBus, MAcc, CPA

Iain played a key role in the commercial development of MultiLit as Managing Director of Access MQ, the commercial arm of Macquarie University where he guided the expansion of MultiLit literacy programs with various partners including the Exodus Foundation and Cape York Partnerships. He was instrumental in the formation of MultiLit Pty Ltd as a spin-off company of Macquarie University and was a founding director. Iain continues to provide commercial guidance to ensure MultiLit can continue to be the leader in effective literacy instruction.

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Other MultiLit websites

MultiLit Literacy Centres

Our Literacy Centres implement the MultiLit reading programs for low-progress readers who either do not have access to MultiLit through their schools or need additional support to build their skills and confidence. MultiLit tutors lead readers through one-on-one programs designed to complement other reading interventions. All MultiLit tutors have completed or are in the process of completing studies in education, psychology, special education, speech pathology or related disciplines. MultiLit then provides extensive training and mentoring for all tutors. Ongoing observation and feedback is conducted to ensure consistent program delivery is being achieved across all MultiLit programs.

The Bookshop by MultiLit

The Bookshop by MultiLit is an online store selling quality picture books and reading resources for children, parents and educators. Support reading at home with picture books published by MultiLit’s own Putto Press and children’s books recommended by our literacy education experts. Continue the learning after school with decodable readers and resources that complement MultiLit programs. The Bookshop is also home to books published by MRU Press, such as academic titles by members of the MultiLit Research Unit.

MultiLit eLibrary

The MultiLit eLibrary is the digital home for the InitiaLit Readers. The eLibrary includes 240 titles from our four current series of Readers, making it perfect for home reading, as well as supplementing print copies of the InitiaLit Readers within a school. The MultiLit eLibrary is the digital home for the InitiaLit Readers. The eLibrary includes 240 titles from our four current series of Readers, making it perfect for home reading, as well as supplementing print copies of the InitiaLit Readers within a school. The eLibrary uses a browser-based platform, which enables reading of books on desktop computers or mobile devices (including smartphones and tablets).

The MultiLit Positive Teaching and Learning Initiative

The MultiLit Positive Teaching and Learning Initiative empowers school leaders and teachers to introduce a highly effective, school-wide positive behaviour management system. Accessible through the initiative are a series of self-paced Professional Development workshops, which start with an introduction to Positive Teaching and become progressively more specialised, delving deep into behaviour assessment, monitoring and management; downloadable and consumable resources to support behaviour management initiatives; and individualised consulting support packages with our behaviour specialists.


Nomanis is a literacy periodical that promotes the ideas and evidence about effective instruction in reading and related skills for teachers, parents, fellow professionals and policy makers. Nomanis provides readable and engaging accounts of developments in the teaching of reading and writing, distilled from the sometimes rather esoteric and dry research literature. Nomanis is published and totally funded by MultiLit Pty Ltd and is provided free to anyone who is interested. 

Five from Five

The Five from Five project was developed with the objective of promoting effective, evidence-based reading instruction, by providing free resources and professional learning to teachers, principals and parents and advocating for evidence-based policy with politicians and policy makers.

Dr Jennifer Buckingham founded Five from Five in 2016 after completing her PhD research at Macquarie University. It was started at The Centre for Independent Studies with the support of Macquarie Foundation, Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, Belalberi Foundation, Kate and Peter Mason (Phase 1 – 2016/17), Eureka Benevolent Fund and Paul Ramsay Foundation (Phase 2 – 2018).

Five from Five is now supported by MultiLit Pty Ltd as a community project to promote evidence-based reading instruction and improve literacy.

Our history


  • MultiLit began as a research initiative at the Macquarie University Special Education Centre, led by Professor Kevin Wheldall with Dr Robyn Wheldall (Beaman).


  • The first edition of the MultiLit Reading Tutor Program (RTP) was published.


  • MultiLit and the Exodus Foundation established the Schoolwise Program at a tutorial centre for socially disadvantaged youth in Ashfield.


  • National Reading Panel in the United States identified and recommended five elements as necessary for effective reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.


  • Gladstone MultiLit Tutorial Centre was established in Queensland to improve the literacy skills of the community’s adolescents.


  • Working with Indigenous leader Noel Pearson, Professor Kevin Wheldall and Dr Robyn Wheldall (Beaman) began pilot studies using MultiLit’s programs with Indigenous students in Coen, Cape York.
  • The National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy in Australia reiterated the findings and recommendations of the National Reading Panel in the US.
  • Professor Kevin Wheldall and Dr Robyn Wheldall (Beaman) were awarded the Macquarie University Community Outreach Award for 2005 for their MultiLit work with disadvantaged and Indigenous students.
  • MultiLit was short-listed and highly commended for Macquarie University Innovations Award for Innovative Partnerships.


  • MultiLit was short-listed and highly commended for Macquarie University Innovations Award for Innovative Partnerships.


  • MultiLit Pty Ltd was formed as a spin-off company of Macquarie University.
  • The MultiLit Research Unit was established to continue research in the area of literacy.
  • The Rose Report in the United Kingdom reconfirmed findings from both the National Reading Panel and the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Reading.
  • The Schoolwise Program was expanded to a second site in Redfern, serving socially disadvantaged inner city Indigenous youth.


  • The first revision of the MultiLit Reading Tutor Program was published.
  • The funding and the embedding of MultiLit programs in four Cape York schools as part of the Welfare Reform Trial was legislated by the Commonwealth Government in the Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Amendment (Cape York Measures) Bill 2007.
  • MultiLit short-listed and highly commended for Macquarie University Innovations Award for Innovative Partnerships.


  • Recognition of the MultiLit Reading Tutor Program under the National Partnership on Literacy and Numeracy by the NSW Department of Education and Training.
  • The provision of the MultiLit Reading Tutor Program and MiniLit program to Indigenous students in Cape York was extended to an additional school site in Aurukun, as part of the Welfare Reform Trial.
  • The Schoolwise Program was yet again expanded, sponsored in part by the Commonwealth Government, as three new sites were established in Darwin with a focus on supporting Indigenous youth.
  • The Word Attack Skills – Extension program was published, designed for students who have completed the Word Attack Skills component of the Reading Tutor Program, but who require additional support to master more complex decoding skills.


  • MultiLit tutorial centres were set up in three school sites in Cape York – Hope Vale, Mossman and Coen – to run a formal literacy program for Indigenous students struggling with literacy.
  • MultiLit worked with the Parikrma Humanity Foundation in Bangalore, India, assisting them in providing the MultiLit RTP program to disadvantaged students.


  • By 2010, over 1500 students had been supported via MultiLit’s partnership with The Exodus Foundation in three states/territories in Australia.
  • MultiLit collaborated with the New South Wales Department of Education and Training on the development of an online version of the MultiLit Reading Tutor Program.
  • A successful randomised trial for the MiniLit program, a new early literacy instruction program, was undertaken.
  • MultiLit’s Reading Tutor Program was recognised under the National Partnership on Literacy and Numeracy by WA Department of Education and Training.


  • The MiniLit program for meeting initial needs in literacy was published.
  • Delivery of MultiLit’s first online program – the Online Reading Tutor Program.
  • Professor Kevin Wheldall awarded the Order of Australia (AM) for service to education as an academic and researcher, particularly in the areas of learning and behavioural difficulties, and through the design and implementation of innovative literacy programs.


  • The Wheldall Assessment of Reading Passages (WARP) was released.


  • In collaboration with the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE), MultiLit began a trial of the Online Reading Tutor Program with Indigenous students in remote locations in Australia.
  • PreLit, a preschool literacy program, was published.
  • Kevin Wheldall was appointed Emeritus Professor of Education, Macquarie University.


  • Spell-It, a resource which assists teachers to plan and deliver spelling instruction, was released.
  • The Positive Teaching professional development workshop, based on research conducted by Emeritus Professor Kevin Wheldall, Dr Robyn Wheldall and Dr Frank Merrett, was launched.


  • A second MultiLit Literacy Centre was established in Bella Vista in Sydney’s Hills district.
  • A new partnership with the Bill Crews Charitable Trust saw MultiLit programs established in four schools in Sydney’s west: Busby West Public School, Punchbowl Public School, Marsden Rd Public School and Greenacre Public School.
  • The Wheldall Assessment for Reading Lists (WARL) was published as a companion tool to the WARP.
  • MultiLit celebrates 20 years in operation with a conference in Sydney.
  • The MultiLit Schools Program was established, enabling the delivery of programs by MultiLit staff directly in schools, with Harcourt Public School the first to receive this service.


  • The Macquarie Literacy Program, or MacqLit, providing small group literacy intervention, was published.
  • Nomanis, MultiLit’s publication for the dissemination of research on reading and related skills, was launched in August.
  • The first series of InitiaLit Readers, which included 60 decodable reader titles for Foundation students, was published.
  • Mount Lewis Infants School and Lurnea joined the MultiLit Schools Program (with Lurnea continuing into 2017).
  • MultiLit entered into a licence agreement with the Canberra Reading Clinic to deliver MultiLit literacy programs in Canberra.


  • The Foundation year of MultiLit’s whole-class program for initial literacy instruction, InitiaLit, was published.
  • A second series of InitiaLit Readers for Year 1 was released.
  • The Reading Tutor Program PD Workshop was translated into an eLearning self-paced module format, creating an opportunity for professional learning for those unable to attend in-person workshops.


  • MultiLit acquired Five from Five – an initiative established within the Centre for Independent Studies to promote effective, evidence-based reading instruction by providing free resources to parents, teachers and other stakeholders.
  • MultiLit featured in the University Research Changes Lives campaign of Universities Australia.
  • An independent evaluation of MiniLit, our intervention program for struggling Year 1 and 2 students, funded by Evidence For Learning and conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, was released.
  • MultiLit published the final program in the InitiaLit suite, InitiaLit–2.
  • A second MultiLit office was established in Perth.
  • Sackville Street Public School joined the MultiLit Schools Program.


  • InitiaLit–1, the second year of MultiLit’s whole-class program for initial literacy instruction, InitiaLit, was published.
  • Services were delivered at Prestons Public School under the MultiLit Schools Program.


  • MultiLit was invited to provide reading and spelling programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, educators and communities under the Closing the Gap Implementation Plan in partnership with the Australian Government.
  • Five from Five began offering Professional Learning Seminars. 
  • A major revision of early literacy instruction program MiniLit, MiniLit Sage, was published.
  • The Wheldall Assessment of Reading Nonwords (WARN) was released.
  • The eLibrary was launched, providing a digital subscription-based platform for the full collection of InitiaLit Readers.
  • The Wattle Series was published, providing MiniLit Sage and InitiaLit students a simpler series of InitaLit Readers.


  • The second series of InitiaLit Readers Levels 1-9 was published, offering Foundation students 60 new decodable readers.
  • MultiLit’s three-year initial literacy instruction program was ‘Highly Commended’ in the category of ‘Outstanding Primary Teaching Resource’ at the 2020 Educational Publishing Awards Australia (EPAA).
  • More to Explore, the companion workbook to the first InitiaLit Reader series was published.
  • InitiaLit was piloted in 24 schools within the Canberra Goulburn Catholic Diocese as part of their Catalyst project.
  • MultiLit partnered with OpenLearning for online delivery of professional development content.
  • MultiLit celebrated its 25th anniversary.


  • MultiLit’s Closing the Gap School Partnership Initiative expanded to encompass 42 schools across five states and territories.
  • Launch of new textbook from MRU Press – Effective Instruction in Reading and Spelling.
  • The Literacy Centres began an Early Literacy Skills program.
  • SpellEx Part A was launched, MultiLit’s first whole-class spelling program for students from Year 3.
  • In November, MultiLit’s Perth Centre expanded and moved to a purpose-designed space which included a new Subiaco Literacy Centre.


  • MultiLit’s new Brisbane Centre opened, including the Fortitude Valley Literacy Centre.
  • Oral language intervention program for children, LanguageLift, launched.
  • InitiaLit Extension launched, providing more challenging materials for students mastering the core skills taught in InitiaLit programs.
  • The Wattle Series of InitiaLit Readers won the inaugural ‘Decodable Book Series Award’ at the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards.
  • The MultiLit Bookshop was launched to help parents and carers in supporting their child’s literacy journey.



  • The Ignite Series of Firecracker Books was published, MultiLit’s first hi-lo books for older students.
  • The Academy for the Science of Instruction, an initiative of MultiLit, was launched in May, providing essential skills for teachers.
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