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

The Learn Local sector is integral to Victoria’s education system. It is characterised by the relevant, inclusive and flexible way it provides learners access to government-subsidised training. The sector supports adult learners in Victoria to build their capacity to learn and to develop the core skills they need for study, work and life.

Knowing the value and potential that Learn Local brings to the post-secondary education sector encouraged me to take up the position as Chairperson of the Board. My own lived experience is evidence of the truly unique and important role of quality core skills programs. My parents learned English through what has now become a Learn Local, which enabled them to undertake further study, find employment and social connection, and contribute to society. This strong basis ensured their children could aspire to educational and professional pathways. Now my parents are in their eighties. Thanks to their English language proficiency, they can continue to stay connected socially, independently make healthcare decisions and live with dignity.

I am pleased to bring to the Board my experience in community and multicultural engagement, vocational and higher education, and the corporate, community, government and not-for-profit sectors. I look forward to advancing the Board’s focus on inclusive and equity-focused education practices and leadership in the adult community education sector.

I acknowledge the strong foundation laid by Ms Maria Peters, outgoing Chairperson of the Board. During her 4 years in the role, Ms Peters led the Board’s reform agenda through the formulation of the Board’s 6-year strategy Adult, Community and Further Education Board Strategy 2020–25: Skills for study, work and life (Strategy 2020–25). Maria’s leadership and unwavering support for Learn Locals enabled strong outcomes in terms of students gaining the skills needed to pursue further education and seek out employment in their local communities. Ms Peters and the Board oversaw implementation of the Victorian Government’s additional investment in digital and employability skills training, which supports learners to access essential services and enables stronger employment outcomes. Under her guidance the Board supported innovative projects like the Just in Time Learn Local Partnerships initiative and the sustainable pre-accredited regional provision model in parts of regional Victoria that struggled to maintain viable provision. She helped to build a strong culture of engagement and respect between the Board and the sector, and to foster a genuine understanding of the challenges in supporting learners. Ms Peters' dedication and commitment as Chairperson helped the Board achieve its vision to assist thousands of Victorian adults to develop the core skills they needed to achieve their education, training and employment goals. I share that commitment to ensure we can all be proud of the Learn Local sector.

I have reviewed the Board’s recent achievements as set out in this report and looked to future challenges. Over my tenure as Chairperson I will focus on:

  • implementing the new pre-accredited provision model, the Pre-accredited Quality Framework+ (PQF+)
  • acknowledging the value of centrally developed curriculum as the key to sharing best practice and freeing up Learn Locals to redirect their time to other aspects of pre-accredited training delivery
  • supporting Learn Local providers to deliver the best experience of pre-accredited training to learners through ongoing strategic professional development as well as implementing a Professional Practice Recognition Framework for the Learn Local workforce
  • raising the profile of the sector and its unique offering in the training market, through the Brand and Value Proposition project
  • engaging with the sector and consulting with learners, community and industry to identify optimal ways of working and outcomes to ensure the Board’s investment in new initiatives is responsive to needs and strongly aligned to ministerial priorities
  • leveraging the opportunities resulting from the move of vocational education and training (VET), higher education and ACFE into the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions – specifically, the ACFE sector’s role in contributing to strong labour market outcomes for the state.

Learners

The Board’s primary focus is ensuring learners succeed in their aspirations by building a network of Learn Locals that responds to learners’ educational and vocational needs through effective, place-based options.

The continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating floods across 63 local government areas challenged us in 2022–23. Despite this, pre-accredited training delivery came close to previous levels. In some areas, Learn Local providers sought additional training delivery hours, particularly in 2023, to meet demand.

The Board continues to facilitate the recovery of the Learn Local sector through flexible funding arrangements and new initiatives. Key to this is the introduction of a continuous expression of interest process, which allows unexpended training delivery hours to be redistributed to areas of high demand.

The 2023 Pre-accredited Learner Survey indicates that learners have remained highly satisfied with the teaching and learning they received, even during the pandemic. It is particularly encouraging that 84 per cent of survey respondents achieved their main reason for training. These results exemplify how the Board and the Learn Local sector place learner empowerment at the centre of all we do.

The sector

During 2022–23, the Board continued its efforts to achieve the goals and aspirations of the Ministerial Statement, The future of adult community education in Victoria 2020–25, which provides a strong foundation for the sector to support learners. The Board also focused on priorities in the Minister’s 2023 statement of expectations. These include working with industry, the VET sector and government networks to support learners and employers to identify learner skills and industry needs, develop pathways and partnerships across the training system, and promote successful and sustainable employment outcomes. The Board will continue to promote Learn Local courses to learners and industry and lead implementation of the Ministerial Statement, supported by the department.

The Board supported the sector through its professional development program and the new Professional Practice and Recognition Framework. The Board made significant investment in creating and promoting centrally developed resources to encourage the sector to focus more on learners than on curriculum development. In early 2023, the Board funded a one-off innovation grant to help providers increase and improve training delivery.

The Board continued its program of increased engagement with the sector. This included annual Board and sector sessions, which are a timely avenue to hear vital feedback from the sector to incorporate in continuous improvement initiatives. The Board continued to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of the sector through the Learn Local Conference 2022, the annual Learn Local Awards and representation at the Victorian Training Awards.

Training and employment partners

In 2022–23, a new pre-accredited provision framework, PQF+, was developed. The new model more clearly demonstrates how Learn Local courses improve core skills that equip learners to access further training and employment opportunities. Feedback from the recent pilots will be incorporated into new guidelines, tools and professional development, which will be rolled out over the coming year.

Work has continued on exploring sustainable regional pre-accredited provision models that support different providers’ delivery approaches. Findings from the pilot approaches and next steps will be considered later in 2023.

During 2022–23, progress was made on the Learn Local Just in Time Industry Partnerships initiative. Since 2021, numerous bespoke courses and tools have been co-designed and piloted by industry and Learn Locals in industries facing key skill shortages. The pilots have shown positive employment outcomes for participating learners, indicating the value of these courses for industry needs.

The Board consulted with stakeholder partners to develop toolkits to engage learners with low levels of core skills from culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal backgrounds. The toolkits contain evidence-informed engagement and delivery approaches to maximise learner success. They will be made available in 2023–24.

Progress has also been made on developing principles and protocols to increase the capacity of Learn Locals to support self-determination for Aboriginal learners and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations in Learn Local courses and other Board-funded programs.

During 2022–23, the Board continued to collaborate with the Office of TAFE Coordination and Delivery and the Victorian Skills Authority. Looking forward, the Board will consider more opportunities to strengthen this collaboration. Working together, we can improve outcomes for all learners in the post-secondary sector.

ACFE Board governance

I acknowledge and thank all current and recently departed Board members for their ongoing commitment to the Board’s mission to lead core skills education and training for adult learners throughout Victoria.

First, I acknowledge the contributions of recent Board members Mr James Atkinson, Ms Sally Brennan and Dr Maylyn Lam, who finished their terms during 2022–23.

Through his lifelong commitment to the preservation of First Nations culture, language and customs, and to the regeneration and continued advancement of his community, Mr Atkinson provided the Board with valuable firsthand knowledge about ensuring optimal access to services for Aboriginal Victorians. His passion for, and expertise in, public policy, management of Aboriginal services and Aboriginal education in early childhood, technical and further education (TAFE), and the school sectors, were much valued, as were his broader contributions.

Ms Brennan was on the Board for 8 years. Her expertise in community development and adult community education underpinned her leadership and contribution to the Board and in committees. She was a champion for the Gippsland Regional Council of ACFE and played a key role in driving strategic projects and areas of focus to ensure they met learner, sector and stakeholder needs.

Dr Lam joined the Board in 2021 and was appointed as Deputy Chairperson in October 2022. She made a significant contribution to Board meetings, committees and working groups – including as regional champion of the North-Western Metropolitan Regional Council of ACFE – and at sector events and Learn Locals. Dr Lam brought to the Board a commitment to community and learners, skills in policy, data and research, and considerable knowledge of employment services, youth and community strengthening.

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

Special thanks go to John Maddock for his work as Acting Deputy Chairperson and Acting Chairperson following the departure of Dr Lam and Ms Peters. Thanks also to Michael Grogan for his work as Acting Deputy Chairperson while a permanent appointment is made. Their stewardship has been invaluable.

In 2022–23, the Board welcomed Ms Natasha Ngweso. Ms Ngweso brings a strong background in financial and management accounting and leadership. The Board has greatly benefited from her knowledge and experience in business and the development of diversity and inclusion programs.

Board members Mr Ezrem Ozyurek, Dr Win Scott, Ms Marg Lewis and Ms Deb Sansom provide ongoing leadership and continuity as existing and new members work towards shared outcomes.

On behalf of the Board, I thank the staff within the ACFE Branch and broader department who are involved in delivering our priorities and who support our learners and the sector. In particular I thank the outgoing General Manager of the Board, Ms Jeanette Nagorcka, who tirelessly supported the Board over 2 years to progress ministerial expectations and deliver its vision for the sector. Thanks also to Michelle Willets, Kathleen Carroll and Georgina Lyell who acted in the general manager role pending appointment of a new general manager.

I am excited for the strategic challenges facing the Board over the next 3 years, which include meeting the expectations set out in the Ministerial Statement and working with the Learn Local sector to provide the best outcomes for adult learners in Victoria. I look forward to working with the Board, the Learn Local sector, government, industry and other key stakeholders to grow the value and impact of the Learn Local sector, and to demonstrate the benefits it brings to learners, communities and Victoria.

Finally, a special thank you to the Hon Gayle Tierney, Minister for Skills and TAFE, for her unwavering support of the ACFE sector, the success of which benefits the whole community.

Dr Teresa De Fazio OAM (MAICD)
Chairperson, ACFE Board

Our purpose and functions

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

The Board has 5 broad functions:

  • advisory – to advise the Minister for Skills and TAFE and, through the Minister, the Victorian Government, on ACFE matters
  • developmental – to foster and support research and the development of matters relating to ACFE. The Board also evaluates and reports on policies, programs, resources and services developed for the coordination, provision, funding and support of ACFE
  • strategic – to establish strategic objectives, priorities and targets of ACFE in relation to its leadership of ACFE and training provided in the post-secondary education system relating to ACFE. The Board strategically plans policies, programs, resources and services for the coordination, provision, funding and support of ACFE, having regard to the economic and social benefits of ACFE to the Victorian community and the quality and equity of access to ACFE
  • profiling – to advocate for and promote awareness of ACFE in the adult community education sector and the Victorian community
  • registration – to register providers of ACFE for the delivery of education and training to the Victorian community and for the development of matters related to ACFE.

In performing these functions, the Board pays close attention to providing equitable access to adult community learning opportunities for Victorians who have not benefited from education. 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 pre-accredited training through Learn Local courses to a broad range of adult Victorians to develop their core skills for study, work or life. Short courses are offered at low or no cost to eligible Victorians and range from literacy and numeracy to job readiness and digital skills, delivered by experienced and dedicated trainers.

Learn Local courses contribute to the wellbeing of learners by building self-confidence and social engagement through positive learning experiences that lead to study pathways or employment.

They also provide:

  • more opportunities for economic participation
  • stronger Victorian communities and economies, through greater workforce participation
  • increased socio-economic resilience and improved mental health.

By strengthening the ability of adult Victorians to participate fully in Victorian communities, 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, 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 poor physical or mental health, disability, homelessness and housing instability, violence and discrimination, and they may have experienced long-term or generational unemployment.

The sector also supports people in the workforce who are vulnerable to job loss, particularly if their industry changes or is disrupted, such as when new technologies are introduced.

Learn Local providers take an informal, welcoming, flexible approach to learning. They are often the most suitable and accessible education and training option in the local community.

Learn Local providers are community-based, not-for-profit organisations. They range from large, sophisticated organisations with expertise in many areas to smaller organisations with expertise primarily in ACFE. Some Learn Local providers focus solely on delivering Board-funded courses. However, the majority have much broader educational and service delivery responsibilities.

In 2023, there are 261 Board-registered Learn Local providers, including AMES Australia.

The Board’s strategic focus 2020–25

Changes to the ACFE Board during 2022–23

On 5 December 2022, the Premier of Victoria announced machinery of government changes from 1 January 2023. The changes will structure the Victorian public service to reflect government priorities and to deliver outcomes for the Victorian community. The newly formed department took responsibility for the Training and Skills and Higher Education portfolios. The ACFE Board and relevant departmental staff were transferred to the new department from the Department of Education (DET). The main impetus of this change is to better connect workers to the jobs of the future in Victoria’s rapidly changing economy.

There were no changes to objectives or output reporting for the Board as a result of this move, and no direct costs were incurred.

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