Last month Bob Stensholt, Vic State Lower House member for Burwood gave a passionate but accurate speech about the enormous range of services
and support offered to the local community by nine Inner East Melbourne Neighbourhood Houses. This type of praise is needed to raise the profile of the
Adult Community Education (ACE) sector amongst parliamentarians in the battle for improved funding, because it appears the policy makers just don’t
get what Neighbourhood Houses DO and as the new Adult Community & Further Education (ACFE) funding arrangement has not been indexed the
sector will actually suffer a funding reduction of 3%-5% over the period.
Adult Community Education – where is it heading? Although funding for ‘lifelong learning’ is available from the Department of Human Services and
various special grants, it appears the new ACFE Three Year Resource Allocation values formal vocational education at the expense of general
education and especially community-based, student-centred needs. It will erode the community development component of funded ACE, making it
increasingly inaccessible to the most vulnerable groups and not addressing ‘unmet and emerging learner needs’. An outline of the new arrangements is
available on the Providers area of the ACFE website at www.acfe.vic.gov.au.
So just when does learning become vocational? The sixteen year olds at Bairnsdale’s Men’s Shed, feeling more comfortable with this environment than
with school, may move on to TAFE courses. The refugee and Temporary Protection Visa holder students from seven countries, with varying degrees of
literacy, in the Fitzroy Learning Network’s new English class may find employment or simply fit in better to Australian life as a result of an organisation
which responds very effectively to its community’s emerging and changing needs. In the friendly supportive Neighbourhood House environment these
students have become very enthusiastic learners and there are also 30 new volunteers in training at the moment. FLN is thrilled with their willingness to
contribute. Adult learning of all kinds is occurring here, with both social and vocational ramifications.
Enterprising Women (EW) in Bass Coast Shire, is a network initiated by the Creatively Connecting Communities Program. EW recently won the Rural
Community Section of the inaugural Women’s Charter Award for Councils and their Community for outstanding contribution in championing women’s
participation in local leadership in the community.
EW is an opportunity to get together with other women to discuss creative interests, projects, business initiatives and ideas, to gain support from other
women, and to access training opportunities. The EW networking workshops held at Wonthaggi’s Mitchell Community House have helped create
effective communicators, able to identify their passion, create a business, or get a project off the ground. For example:
(i) Lisa Archibald found the passion to develop a community festival ‘A Day at the Cape’. She did some training in how to run a festival, carried it off
successfully, has showcased all that learnt at a recent EW workshop and is preparing and expanding next January’s festival. 2005 will see a 2 day
festival involving a market and a music day – a collaborative venture for a range of organizations.
(ii) Local artists have set up a group to rescue the local rescue station -35 years empty! – as an artists coop/tourist attraction with artists actually
(iii) An Enterprising YOUNG Women pilot project will commence soon for a group of up to ten 15-18 year olds. The aim is to help them develop
initiatives to be self-employed and earn their own incomes through the market stall strength of the region. They will make their own products, assisted
by a $200 grant drawn from Council, LLEN and CCC funds. A minibus will also be provided to run them around and to markets.
(iv) Who can? You can! A civic and community leadership speaker from ‘Women in Local Government has run a ‘Vision night’ looking at personal
development and also ‘hard’ skills development: public speaking, campaigning etc all to change the culture of local government
EW’s award is a statewide contest presented by the Women’s Participation in Local Government Coalition, supported by the VLGA and MAV. Contact
for further info is Jan Bourne on 5672 3731.