Federal Election Watch: Labor commits support to adult and community education

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has committed explicit policy support to a number of adult and community education (ACE) priorities. A letter from Federal Labor headquarters to Community Colleges Australia and a similar one to the peak organisation Adult Learning Australia (ALA) provides details.

While “a Shorten Labor Government will restore public TAFE as the major provider in the vocational education and training system”, Labor will “ensure that not-for-profit community and adult education providers are supported in the critical complementary role they play.”

Labor also committed to recognising “the strong and positive role adult and community learning plays in delivering quality and inclusive post-secondary education to people in our communities.”

Many of the Labor commitments meet the priorities established in the Community Colleges Australia Federal Election Policy Platform.

Ministerial Declaration on ACE: Labor supports updating the 2008 Ministerial Declaration on Adult Community Education, stating, “It is time for a renewed shared commitment by federal and state governments to adult and community education objectives, principles and goals. The last declaration was made under the previous Labor government in 2008. Federal Labor has undertaken to take leadership in ensuring a new Ministerial Declaration on Adult Community Education.”

On Commonwealth VET funding: “Labor will secure funding for vocational education and ensure that at least two thirds of public funding for training will go to TAFE with the remaining one third of funding available to high quality, including not-for-profit community providers.” This repeats the same commitment made by Senator Doug Cameron, Labor Shadow Minister for Skills, at CCA’s annual conference in July 2017.

On VET marketisation and privatisation, Labor says: “For too long the adult and vocational education sectors have been put under intense pressure due to misapplied competition and incoherent policies. Labor is committed to restoring TAFE as the anchor in the vocational education system and the supporting the unique role of not-for-profit Adult Learning and Community Education organisations to Australia’s post-secondary education system.”

National Inquiry: Labor restates its plan to establish an “independent and comprehensive once-in-a-generation national inquiry into post-secondary education in Australia”, to commence “within the first 100 days of a Shorten Labor Government.” The letter also says, “We see adult and community education as central to this inquiry, as we know that we won’t be able to deliver it without your expertise, practice and community connection.”

On adult literacy and English language teaching: “Labor commits to developing and implementing a national adult literacy strategy, prioritising language, literacy, numeracy and digital learning in the range of contexts in which this is needed…. Labor will guarantee that level of investment for adult language, literacy, numeracy and digital foundation education and will work with adult and community educators to design and implement the program. In addition, Labor has also committed to addressing the problems in the Adult Migrant English and Skills for Education and Employment programs.”

Read the full ALP letter to CCA.

Other parties

The other political party that has responded to ALA “at press time” is The Greens through Senator Mehreen Faruqi: read the details here (previously reported by CCA).

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