Year in review

Our vision

The vision of the Adult, Community and Further Education Board (the Board) is that the adult, community and further education (ACFE) sector develops the core skills Victorian adults need for study, work and life.

Our mission

The mission of the Board is to lead literacy, numeracy, English language, employability and digital skills education and training for adult learners in Victoria.

Our values

In accordance with the Public Administration Act 2004, the Board upholds the 7 core Victorian public sector values of:

  • responsiveness
  • integrity
  • impartiality
  • accountability
  • respect
  • leadership
  • human rights.

Chairperson’s report

Our Learn Local sector has always been important as a vital and unique part of our state’s education system. Learn Locals provide places where people come to connect and improve their language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills. They are where people can build skills for study, work and life and, most importantly, where the confidence, expectations and hopes of adult learners are changed for thousands of Victorians each year.

Last year highlighted that many people in Victoria need even more support. Our sector continues to provide opportunities for people to re-engage and participate in a positive learning experience, and to gain the vital confidence and skills they need in life, in study and in work. The Board greatly appreciates the work that providers do every day to help learners achieve their dreams.

During 2021–22, the sector continued to show resilience, dedication and innovation to meet the fluctuating challenges of the COVID-19 environment. The Board recognised the struggles faced by the sector and remained learner focused, through approval of flexible funding arrangements and the development of new initiatives. It supported Learn Local providers to deliver the relevant and quality training that learners need to develop skills for study and work, to have positive lives and to participate in their communities.

Although the Board was focused on being responsive to the needs of the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, it also maintained momentum in achieving the goals and aspirations of the Ministerial Statement, The Future of Adult Community Education in Victoria 2020–25, to provide strong foundations for the sector, and support learners and Learn Local staff to ensure a sustainable sector into the future.


The Board continued to focus on work that leads to a better understanding of our learners, particularly hard‑to-reach and disengaged learners, and their barriers and motivations to engagement, including Koorie and culturally and linguistically diverse learners. This work aims to improve participation and success in pre-accredited training through place-based local learning, using a choice of delivery modes and experiences that meet the needs and goals of learners.

In 2021–22, the sector continued to experience a softening of learner demand. The number of module enrolments in Learn Local courses funded by the Board in 2021 indicates that, although enrolments were lower than the target, they represent an improvement on 2020 when the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were first being realised.

Despite the continued lower demand by learners, results of the 2021 Pre-accredited Learner Survey were very positive. Most respondents were highly satisfied with the teaching and learning experiences they received, and learners continued to achieve positive employment outcomes from undertaking Learn Local courses. I would like to again congratulate Learn Local providers on the results of the survey, which acknowledge the hard work of educators.

Buoyed by these results, the Board continued providing programs to encourage more learners to participate in Learn Local courses. This included research, programs and additional centrally developed resources to assist the sector to deliver pre-accredited training in areas of greatest need.

In response to the significant impact of the COVID-19 environment on delivery and uptake of training, the Board looked to initiatives to support learner access and sector sustainability. A key project has commenced to establish sustainable pre-accredited regional provision models that foster and support different delivery approaches between providers, which will cater for thin markets and support providers to meet place-based needs.


The Board focused on supporting partnerships across our communities to make sure that the role of the sector is better understood, is promoted, and is part of place-based local solutions. These include improving partnerships of Learn Locals with TAFEs and dual-sector universities, which will be further strengthened though collaboration with the Office of TAFE Coordination and Delivery. These partnerships will assist with developing stronger pathways for learners from pre-accredited into accredited training. Collaborative arrangements have also been established between the Victorian Skills Authority and Regional Councils, to exchange intelligence on local workforce needs and training issues.

The Board also supported Learn Local providers to assist with the development of new initiatives, including the Just in Time Learn Local–Industry Partnerships and Learn Local at Work case studies. These projects assist Learn Locals to form relationships with industry, and provide the support and resources needed for this. These important projects will help build understanding of the sector across industry, and how it can assist industry to meet workforce needs.

Working with job agencies, industry and TAFE will increase opportunities and improve employment and training pathways for learners who wish to gain skills and find employment. It will also support local industry and the local economy.

Working with the sector

The Board also focused on developing strengthened approaches to professional development to support the Learn Local workforce. Continued engagement with the sector makes professional development accessible, supports workforce skills and improves knowledge of the sector, which effectively addresses the needs of its learners, communities, industry and other partners.

The Board provided support and training for Learn Locals to deliver online or remote training. This included guidance materials, support networks and webinars on innovative delivery strategies. Centralised resources were made available to assist the sector to deliver training in areas of greatest need, including digital literacy modules and courses, pathways into further study and work, and industry-contextualised training.

The Board maintained its high level of engagement and consultation with stakeholders and the sector. It continued face-to-face and virtual visits with Learn Local providers, to see their work and thank them for their work, commitment, resilience and adaptability. In doing this, the Board gained a better understanding of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 environment and what the impact of other changes, such as higher employment levels, was having on provision and community needs. The feedback from these and other sector sessions held with the Board, online COVID-19 sessions, and the Learn Local pulse surveys, provided the Board with much needed insight into the challenges facing the sector during these unprecedented times.

This feedback has been instrumental in assisting the Board’s strategic planning for 2022 and beyond, including increased support and flexible funding for Learn Locals.

Sector recognition

The 2021 Learn Local Awards Gala Ceremony was an opportunity to come together and celebrate achievements of learners, and the work and value of the sector. In 2021, the Board introduced several new award categories, including the Victorian Learn Local Leadership Award and the Victorian Learn Local Innovation Award, with the aim of recognising these important aspects of our sector. The 2020 Awards winners and finalists were also invited to attend, as we were unable to hold an in-person gala in 2020.

We take great pride in what we do, and, through the positive impact we have on so many individuals in our communities, we change lives. These awards are just one way that we shine a spotlight on the amazing work of the Learn Local sector.

The Board’s work and governance

In 2021–22, investment was made in research to build learner engagement, sector brand recognition and impact with key stakeholders, through the delivery of evidence-based communication strategies and activities. The Board also finalised important strategic policies on provision, procurement and registration, to make sure that the distribution of Board funding was aligned with the goals of the Ministerial Statement. I am positive that the Board can encourage more learners back to Learn Local courses and improve outcomes for learners who are most in need.

To further progress implementation of the 2020 governance review of ACFE, the Board and the Department of Education and Training (the department) worked together to develop the ACFE System Governance Guidelines to support effective working relationships and strengthen outcomes.

In response to the Parliamentary Secretary’s 2021 Strengthening Regional Councils review, the Board approved an implementation plan of the review’s 21 recommendations in February 2022. This plan makes sure that all recommendations from the review will be implemented throughout 2022. A focus on stronger collaboration, and relevant and effective resources and processes, will make sure that the Board and Regional Councils have an effective relationship into the future.


I would like to thank all Board members for their expertise, leadership, work and ongoing commitment to do the best they can for our leaners and the Learn Local sector. I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Mr Raoul Wainwright and Ms Penny Wilson, whose terms ended during 2021–22.

Mr Wainwright was Deputy Chairperson of the Board until 25 September 2021. He brought many key attributes and skills to the Board, including his extensive legal background. Through his commitment to improving education opportunities for all Victorians, he made a strong contribution to the Board over his term.

Ms Wilson’s background in Learn Local provision gave the Board first-hand knowledge of the place-based provision of ACFE. Her passion for the sector, together with her expertise in communications and governance, and her understanding of business management, were much valued on the Board.

On behalf of the Board, I wish to thank them for their positive contribution on the Board and their commitment to adult community education. I wish them well in their future endeavours and achievements.

During 2021–22, the Board welcomed 2 new members: Ms Deborah Sansom and Mr Ekrem Ozyurek.

Mr Ozyurek brings 30 years of experience in primary and secondary education to the Board. The Board will benefit greatly from his knowledge and work in community, and cultural development in culturally and linguistically diverse communities, specifically the Turkish and Islamic communities.

Ms Sansom has widespread experience in media, communications and stakeholder engagement. Through her consultancy business, she brings to the Board specialised skills in community engagement and workforce development, across the arts, government, business and not-for-profit sectors.

In 2021–22, we also welcomed new and reappointed members to our 8 Regional Councils. I sincerely thank Regional Council members for their critical role as part of the Board’s governance, for their advocacy of the sector in their regions, for their insights and regional knowledge, and for their advice on the needs of their communities. The Board values the Regional Councils’ continued contribution to and support of its work to improve educational training opportunities for adult Victorians.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the General Manager of the Board, Ms Jeanette Nagorcka, and the staff within the ACFE Division and broader department, who are involved in delivering our priorities and work, and who support our learners and the sector.

Looking to the future, the Board remains committed to supporting and working with the sector to provide the best outcomes for adult learners in Victoria. I am immensely honoured to be part of the Board and to work with so many wonderful people in our sector. The Board is proud of the sector’s ongoing commitment to learners and their communities, and its ongoing resilience and work over the last few difficult years.

The Board looks forward to continuing to work with the sector and to both lead and support it, to make sure that the important work it does will strengthen and prosper into the future.

Ms Maria Peters

Purpose and functions

The Board was established as an authority under Victorian legislation in 1991. It now performs important statutory functions under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006. Its key role is to support the development of ACFE in Victoria.

The Board has 5 broad functions that are:

  • developmental – to evaluate and report on the development of place-based ACFE policies, programs, resources and services
  • advisory – to advise the Minister for Training and Skills and, through the Minister, the Victorian Government, on ACFE matters
  • strategic – to strategically plan and evaluate policies, programs, resources and services. We consider and prioritise the needs of adult learners seeking to attain the education and core skills necessary for further study and employment, and establish objectives and targets to meet them
  • profiling – to foster and support research and development in the adult community education sector, as well as into the impact and benefit of ACFE
  • operational funding – to provide and fund policies, programs, resources and services to deliver accessible, inclusive and quality ACFE programs, resources and services, based on learner needs.

In performing these functions, the Board pays close attention to giving Victorians who previously have not benefited from education equitable access to adult community learning opportunities. The Board monitors the quality of education so that it remains relevant to specific community needs.

Adult community education in Victoria

The Victorian Government, through the Board, registers and funds adult community education providers to deliver Learn Local courses to a broad range of adult Victorians, so they can study and work in their local area. Learn Local courses are aimed at adult Victorians who want to develop their core skills for study, work or life. These short courses are offered at low or no cost to eligible Victorians. They range from literacy and numeracy to job-related and digital skills, and are delivered by experienced and dedicated trainers.

Learn Local courses contribute to the wellbeing of learners in a range of important ways, such as by building self-confidence and social engagement, and through positive learning experiences that lead to study pathways or employment.

They also provide:

  • greater opportunities through economic participation
  • stronger Victorian communities and economies, through greater workforce participation
  • increased socioeconomic resilience and improved mental health.

By strengthening the ability of adult Victorians to participate fully as members of the Victorian community, courses deliver the social and societal benefits of true citizen participation.

Adult community education providers delivering Board-funded courses are part of the Learn Local sector. The Learn Local sector is an essential part of Victoria’s post-secondary education and training system. It plays a vital role in providing pathways for adult learners to transition to employment and further training.

The Learn Local sector supports adult learners with diverse needs. Adults who are still developing core skills may not have completed secondary school, or may not have been engaged in education for a significant period. Some face other challenges in their lives, such as adverse physical or mental health, disability, cultural differences, homelessness or housing instability, violence or discrimination, or they may have long‑term or generational unemployment.

The sector also supports people who are in the workforce, but have a level of vocational or employment skills that makes them vulnerable to job loss, particularly if their industry changes or is disrupted, such as when new technologies are introduced.

Learn Local providers adopt an informal, welcoming, flexible approach to learning, and are often the best means of accessing suitable education and training in the community.

Board-registered Learn Local providers are community-based organisations and managed not-for-profit organisations. They range from large, sophisticated organisations staffed by experts in many fields, to smaller organisations with simple structures that are staffed by people with expertise primarily in adult, community and further education. In 2022, 265 organisations are registered Learn Local providers, including AMES Australia.

All Learn Local providers are place-based community organisations, with some providers focusing solely on delivering Board-funded courses. For the majority of Learn Local providers, educational and service delivery responsibilities are much broader.

The Board’s strategic focus 2020–25

The Ministerial Statement The Future of Adult Community Education in Victoria 2020–25 was launched by the Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education, and Minister for Agriculture on 14 November 2019. It establishes a reform agenda for the Board and the adult community education sector. It sets ambitious aspirations and goals with qualitative and quantitative measures.

The Ministerial Statement emphasises training in adult literacy, numeracy, employability and digital skills as a priority across all post-compulsory education sectors, including technical and further education (TAFE). It identifies a stronger role for the sector in supporting students to enter and successfully complete TAFE and university courses, and in upskilling and reskilling low-skilled workers who may be vulnerable to becoming unemployed as the nature of work changes.

The Ministerial Statement sets ambitious aspirations and goals for the Board and the adult community education sector during 2020–25, which include:

  • building the capability of the adult community education sector to provide literacy, numeracy, digital and employability skills training, enhancing professional development support for the sector and its teaching resources, and building Board capacity to deliver on statement priorities
  • developing partnerships with employers across the post-secondary education system and across the Victorian Government, to support learners to work, study and fully participate in society
  • enhancing learner access, inclusion and engagement across all local government areas, directing all Board funding to learners on the basis of need, and promoting the role and value of the adult community education sector.

The Ministerial Statement gives the adult community education sector the recognition and strategic direction it deserves. It will guide sectoral collaboration for the purpose of improving the lives of Victorian learners through education.

The Board’s Strategy 2020–25 is a blueprint for the Board and the Learn Local sector for the 6 years from 2020 to 2025. It is the primary means of delivering on the Ministerial Statement, and positioning and strengthening the sector’s role in Victoria. This strategy is closely aligned with the Ministerial Statement.

Strategy 2020–25 focuses on adult Victorians who are seeking to develop the core skills they need for study, work and life, and it places the learner at the centre. It acknowledges the sector’s strengths in terms of its level of engagement and participation of adult learners.

Strategy 2020–25 focuses on the 4 strategic directions of:

  • engaging learners and developing their confidence and skills
  • building greater collaboration between the Learn Local sector and partners, especially employers and TAFEs
  • investing in people across the sector, and in high-quality products and tools to support them
  • maintaining high standards of Board stewardship and governance, and championing and communicating the sector’s value and impact.

In 2021 and 2022, the Minister for Training and Skills provided the Board with annual Ministerial Statements of Expectations. These statements contribute to the delivery of the Ministerial Statement The Future of Adult Community Education in Victoria 2020–25 and the Board’s Strategy 2020–25. The Board reports on achievements against the Ministerial Statements of Expectations to the Minister for Training and Skills on a biannual basis.