Community Colleges Australia – The Year in Review 2018

CCA has released its 2018 Year in Review, which covers CCA’s activities during the 12 month period January through December 2018, including policy development, CCA and other community education sector events, other events and presentations, highlights of the year, strategic partnerships, representation, member visits, communications and the challenges ahead.

Read the Year in Review 2018 below, or download the pdf version.

Policy Development

Rural and Regional Economic Development: In January, CCA completed its report The Role of New South Wales Community Education Providers in Regional and Rural Economic Development, which concluded that economic development in non-metropolitan NSW requires the coordinated and collaborative effort of numerous stakeholders and players, all working closely together, and identified a number of strategies and programs for community providers. Link to the Executive Summary and Link to Full Report.

VET Student Loans: CCA released its Statement on the Commonwealth Government’s VET Student Loans scheme in March, concluding that the program discriminates against not-for-profit community education providers of vocational education and training (VET) because the way the guidelines are written and how the policy reporting does not differentiate between for-profit private and not-for-profit community providers.

Maintenance and Operational Funding for NSW providers: Following a CCA submission to the NSW Deputy Premier requesting maintenance and infrastructure funding for NSW providers – and subsequent lobbying of NSW Members of Parliament by NSW CCA members – in late November the Deputy Premier confirmed funding will be supplied in 2019/20, with potential extension in future years.

NSW Aboriginal Economic Development: CCA published its Statement in March on how member organisations can contribute to Aboriginal employment and development. The Statement proposed a project to ensure that the NSW community college sector can leverage its capacity to improve Aboriginal employment and training, both in metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. The NSW Department of Industry subsequently funded that project, which will complete by June 2019.

Tech Savvy for Small Business: CCA completed its review of the NSW Government’s Tech Savvy for Small Business program in March, concluding that the program delivered good and often exceptional outcomes, and proposing an expansion of the program in 2018/19. Although the NSW Government did not continue the program, it did allocate the program’s resources to increase Community Service Obligation funds, providing flexibility to NSW colleges.

Western Sydney Regional Economic Development: CCA released its Statement on economic development in Western Sydney in April, followed by a the commencement of a NSW Department of Industry-funded project, which included a public Forum in Parramatta in October (see below). The final project report will be released in January 2019.

Workplace Literacy: CCA joined with the Australian Industry Group, Reading Writing Hotline, Australian Council for Adult Literacy and Adult Learning Australia to publish Joint Position Statement on Workplace Literacy in Australia. This Statement was featured on ABC Radio’s AM program.

Government-Funded VET: CCA provided a submission on “Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Students of NSW Community Education Providers: Analysis of 2017 Data” to the NSW Deputy Premier and the NSW Department of Industry.

Future Opportunities for Adult Learners (FOALS) in Victoria: CCA contributed to the response developed by Neighbourhood Houses Victoria and Adult Learning Australia to the FOALS discussion paper released by the Victorian Department of Education and Training. This review has the potential to have a major impact on the provision of adult and community education in the state; a response to the feedback from the review is expected in the first quarter of 2019.

NCVER Rural and Regional Foundation Skills Research Project: CCA is the project sponsor for a national research project undertaken by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) that examines how higher education and VET mobilises social, human and built capital in regional Australia. The research kicked off in August, followed by a workshop at CCA’s November conference and will complete in late 2019.

CCA and Sector Events

CCA’s Sydney Conference – with the theme “Taking the Lead: Building Community” – took place on 13, 14 and 15 November in Sydney, attracting more than 120 participants, and heard from:

  • The Hon Bronnie Taylor, MLC, representing the NSW Deputy Premier; Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills & Vocational Education; Ms Prue Car, NSW Shadow Minister for Skills and Shadow Assistant Minister for Education; and the Senator the Hon Doug Cameron, Shadow Labor Minister for Skills, TAFE and Apprenticeships.
  • Overseas keynote speaker, Dr Ricky Shabazz, President of San Diego City College, who was interviewed by both The Australian and Campus Review during his Sydney visit.
  • More than 30 other speakers within four conference strands – leadership and governance, building skills, community and economic development and social justice, including Edwina MacDonald, ACOSS Director of Policy and Advocacy; Professor Stephen Parker AO, National Sector Leader of Education for KPMG Australia and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Canberra; Ms Saxon Rice, Deputy Chief Commissioner and Commissioner, Risk Intelligence and Regulatory Support, ASQA; Dr Gary Johns, Chief Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC); David Collins, Executive Director of Training Services NSW; privacy lawyer Katherine Sainty; Judy Foster, NSW/ACT Manager of Philanthropy Australia; and Raymond Janse van Rensburg, Director, Systems Engineering, CISCO Australia & New Zealand. View the conference presentations.
  • Reports from community providers: ACE Colleges Lismore, Youth Development Foundation, City East College, Port Macquarie Community College and TecNQ in Townsville.
  • Conference sponsors and exhibitors included a record 17 supporters, including exhibitors Coverforce and Ansvar Insurance, Hill Rogers Accountants and Auditors, Audit Express, ish onCourse, The Learning Resources Group, Training Resource Solutions, Copyright Agency, Rural Skills Australia, Canvas Learning Management System and Watsonia Publishing.

Community Education Student of the Year Award – supported by the NSW Department of Industry – was announced at the Conference Gala Dinner: Lakisha Sloane, nominated by Robinson Community College (Broken Hill), won the Award this year. Jessica Urquhart, nominated by Tamworth Community College, received a “highly commended” award. The other six finalists for the Award were Aaron Curry, nominated by WEA Illawarra; Caitlin Collett, St George and Sutherland Community College; Emma Kastelein, Community College Northern Inland; Jasmine Ridgeway, Youth Development Centre; Natasha Dickens, Central Coast Community College; and Shiva Smyth, Byron Community College.

A Western Sydney Regional Economic Development Forum in Parramatta in October highlighted CCA’s project that investigated the contributions that not-for-profit community education providers make to the economic development of that region, and how these contributions can be expanded to improve the region’s development. More than 70 people from 56 different organisations participated in the Forum, which heard presentations from 11 community education providers in the region; Zoe de Saram, Deputy Secretary, NSW Department of Industry; Therese O’Dwyer, Executive Officer, Regional Development Australia – Sydney, Billie Sankovic, CEO, Western Sydney Community Forum; Sam Stewart, The Committee for Sydney; Michael Cullen, TAFE NSW Western Sydney Regional Manager; Kerry Robinson, General Manager, Blacktown City Council; Julie Scott, Manager, City Deal, Liverpool City Council; Nicolene Murdoch CEO Western Sydney University - The College; and Terry Rawnsley, SGS Economics and Planning.

Other sector events and training that CCA ran during 2018 included:

  • Peer to peer mentoring training program for member CEOs, February and April
  • “Business Acumen” training programs for member staff, February and April
  • Compliance in a Student-Centred Framework Program, March and May
  • Essentials of Facilitation Practice for trainers and managers, August

CCA also participated in the following events:

  • The launch of the ACOSS/UNSW Sydney Partnership
  • NSW CEO “Professional Conversations” in February, May and September
  • Cooperative Learning Ltd meetings in Mullumbimby and Nelson Bay
  • Business Council of Australia consultation on the future of VET in Melbourne
  • A Victorian ACE Sector Forum
  • Adult Learning Australia National Lifelong Learning Summit, September
  • Go8 (“Group of 8” universities) Roundtable with the community sector
  • Workforce Blueprint and Audit Express RTO leaders lunch
  • Labor Charities Forum discussion with the Hon Tanya Plibersek, MP and the Hon Andrew Leigh, MP
  • TEQSA Higher Education Provider Roundtable
  • VET Development Centre Official Opening with Minister Tierney, Melbourne
  • ACOSS and UNSW Sydney Inequality in Australia Report Launch
  • Alternative Schools Conference, Warakirri College, Blacktown
  • Best Practice Economic Development Strategy Workshop, Regional Development Australia
  • ACOSS National Conference
  • Community Council for Australia CEO Roundtable
  • ACPET meeting with the Shadow Skills Minister, Melbourne
  • Adult Learning Australia Lifelong Learning Forum, December
  • NSW Department of Industry – University of Sydney “Disability Hackathon”

Other Presentations

Other presentations made by CCA staff include:

  • "Inequality in Australia: what can vocational education and training do?", EduTECH International Congress, Sydney, June.
  • Welcome address to the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Community College Open Day", June.
  • Speech to the Australian Federal VET Policy Forum, VET Development Centre, Melbourne, July. CEO Dr Don Perlgut spoke along with ACPET and TAFE Directors Australia, joining Assistant Skills Minister Karen Andrews MP and Shadow Minister Senator Doug Cameron. Link to Dr Perlgut's speech
  • "Developing Tomorrow's Skills and Building Community: Innovations from Australia's adult and community education providers", NCVER VET Research Conference ‘No Frills', Sydney, August.
  • "Strengthening Community Cohesion, Resilience and Skills: Lessons from Australia's Community Education Providers", TAFE Directors 2018 World Congress, Melbourne, October.


During 2018, CCA maintained active representation on the following groups and committees:

  • Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) Provider Roundtable, chaired by the ASQA Chief Commissioner
  • NSW Department of Industry CCA Reference Group, which includes eight CCA members, six of them new in 2018: Jennifer Aldred (Sydney Community College), Anne Brecht (JobQuest), David Fuller (WEA Illawarra), Theresa Collignon (Macquarie Community College), Ted Nabung (Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Community College), Dianne Potter (Riverina Community College), Eric Wright (Nepean Community College) and Michelle Simpson (Tamworth Community College)
  • VET Student Loans Implementation Advisory Group, Australian Government Department of Education and Training
  • NSW Skills Board’s Provider Reference Group, supported by the NSW Department of Industry
  • Training Product Reform Joint Working Party, Australian Government Department of Education and Training
  • Victorian ACE Peak Organisations Network, which collaborates on areas of policy to advance adult and community education in Victoria
  • Reading and Writing Hotline National Steering Committee
  • Community Council for Australia, Advisory Group on “Australia we want - Making education everyone's business”
  • Redlink (Waterloo, Sydney) Education and Training Reference Group

Other Highlights of 2018

The NSW Department of Industry confirmed another increase in support to the community education sector in June for the 2018/19 financial year, whereby the Tech Savvy for Small Business funding was rolled into Community Service Obligation (CSO) funding.

CCA developed or deepened strategic relationships or partnerships with ACOSS, Community Council for Australia, CISCO Australia, Adult Learning Australia, Victorian ACE peak organisations, TAFE Directors Australia, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, VET Development Centre, Audit Express, WorkForce Blueprint and American Association of Community Colleges.

Board of Directors: In November, one new Director joined CCA’s Board of Directors – Jo Martin (Central Coast Community College). She joined continuing Directors David Fuller (WEA Illawarra & CCA Chair), David Mackay (Tuggerah Lakes Community College & CCA Deputy Chair from December), Michelle Simpson (Tamworth Community College, CCA Deputy Chair until December), Theresa Collignon (Macquarie Community College & CCA Treasurer), Danielle Bensley (The Parramatta College), Jennifer Aldred (Sydney Community College), Valerieanne Byrnes (Port Macquarie Community College) and Ron Maxwell (VERTO). CCA thanks John O’Neill, previously of the Deaf Society, who served on the CCA Board until August.

Communications: In addition to numerous presentations, CCA sent 30 newsletters to members and non-members and issued 73 news releases.

Member Visits

CCA staff visited 20 member organisations during 2018: Albury-Wodonga Community College, Byron Community College, Camden Haven Community College, City East College, The Deaf Society, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Community College, JobQuest, Macarthur Community College, Murwillumbah Community College, Community College Northern Inland, The Parramatta College, Port Macquarie Community College, Riverina Community College, St George & Sutherland Community College, Sydney Community College, Tamworth Community College, Tomaree Community College, Tuggerah Lakes Community College, Western Riverina Community College and Youth Development Foundation.

Financial Performance

CCA posted a modest surplus of $30,417 for the financial year ending 30 June 2018, on an income of $519,840 (previous year income was $419,908), compared to a prior year deficit of $9,490. As of 30 June 2018, CCA had $153,558 in Retained Earnings and $580,071 in Current Assets. Revenue from membership payments ($162,691, which comprise 31% of CCA’s annual revenue), conference attendance ($106,591) and special projects ($209,520) were all greater in 2017/18 than the previous financial year. CCA’s complete financial reports are available on the ACNC website.

The Challenges Ahead

Challenges facing CCA in the coming year include:

  • Ensuring that our members are kept updated, empowered and recognised, and receive proper funding for their activities;
  • Representing our sector to governments in ways that make a difference, with two upcoming elections: New South Wales in March and Commonwealth expected in May;
  • Getting the community education provider voice heard in an active and “noisy” media landscape, with many well-funded and loud organisations;
  • Branding our sector as dynamic, effective and worthy of support;
  • Maximising our strategic partnerships to fulfil our strategic goals;
  • Maintaining and extending services to members with limited staff and resources;
  • Increasing our membership base; and
  • Diversifying CCA’s sources of income through sponsorship, grants and donations so that we can continue to represent the sector dynamically.

Read CCAs Strategic Plan here.

CCA Staff: CCA continues to be served by three capable staff members – Dr Don Perlgut, CEO; Evelyn Goodwin, Manager Policy & Projects; and Anne Walter, Manager Operations.

Link to CCA Year in Review 2018 - PDF version

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