Western Sydney Case Studies

Western Sydney Regional Economic Development: Community Provider Case Studies

Western Sydney Regional Economic Development Project

The investigation by Community Colleges Australia (CCA) into how to expand the capacity and contributions of the region’s not-for-profit community education providers has resulted in a detailed report with recommendations. View copies of:

This project discovered a number of strong projects that can serve as models for future economic development activities undertaken by not-for-profit education and training providers. These are detailed below.

The Place-Based Approach to Regional Economic Development

The most successful community programs are “place-based”, which recognise that regions are different, that one-size-fits-all approaches are often inappropriate, and that local communities must be central to development efforts (Australian Parliament Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation). Successful programs will be led by local communities, aligned with regional strengths, supported by targeted investment and guided by clear objectives and measurable performance indicators (Australian Productivity Commission, Transitioning Regional Economies).

These regional development strategies require strengthened local and regional institutions able to develop local economic assets, which are more than just “tailoring national policies”; active stakeholders; and the development of human capital and the promotion of innovation.

These case studies illustrate some of the ways that Australia’s not-for-profit community education and training providers have become “active stakeholders” and supply important (and often under-appreciated) local and regional institutions.

Western Sydney community provider regional economic development innovations fall into four categories: career pathways and development, social enterprises, migrant services including English language teaching and special assistance secondary schools.

Career Pathways: Leading to Job Offers

Macquarie Community College completed a project that supported 12 women (mostly mums) from social housing, including former refugees from Sudan, to complete a part-qualification course to start on a pathway to work with careers in community services. The bonus was that almost all participants (11 out of 12) carried on into completing their full Certificate 3 in Individual Support because the College – along with social service agencies – also spent a lot of time as part of the “wrap-around” approach making the participants feel capable, connected, supported and able to complete their program.

A key component of the success was organising genuine work experience in the sector. Many of them secured paid work during or after the course. Some (4 of the 11) continued to do the Certificate 4. As result of the trusting relationships built in the local area, Macquarie Community College has run a number of successful Career Training programs in Riverwood.

Social Enterprises

JobQuest Property Services

JobQuest operates a property service social enterprise that provides a pathway for disadvantaged job seekers to develop employability skills as well as building their credential to be competitive in the open labour market. Operating both in Western Sydney and the Hunter, the program delivers ground maintenance and home maintenance services to public housing estates, Commonwealth Home Support Program Home Maintenance for pensioners aged 65-plus, Veteran Home Care Program for eligible veterans, Home Care Package (HCP), household tasks under NDIS and Community Assist Lawn Mowing program funded by Parramatta City Council.

JobQuest has also worked on a number of community housing tenant employment programs.

Jesuit Social Services

Although Melbourne-based, Jesuit Social Services (JSS) – which also runs Jesuit Community College – operates in a number of states and territories of Australia. Since 2008, Jesuit Social Services has partnered with Mt Druitt’s Holy Family Parish to deliver local initiatives throughout Western Sydney. The programs include:

  • Ignite Food Store, partnering with schools, parishes and suppliers to provide affordable groceries train and employ people to sell affordable groceries including fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, and dairy, to the Mt Druitt community. JSS trains and employs local people and provide work experience to unemployed people, special support for some of the most vulnerable people in the area.
  • Ignite Op Shop: JSS provides high quality adult and children’s clothing, toys, books, furniture, household items, and bric-a-brac at low prices to the Mt Druitt community.

Migrant Services

Adult Migrant Education Programs

CCA’s Western Sydney members have developed deep expertise in meeting the education and training needs of migrant communities, including operating English language teaching programs for many years. According to figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER), 55.8% of not-for-profit Western Sydney community education VET enrolments in 2017 were from people from non-English speaking backgrounds, compared to 35.8% of TAFE enrolments and 49.8% of private for-profit training providers.

Macquarie Community College, St George & Sutherland Community College (SGSCC) and Sydney Community College are among those with many years of migrant service delivery, especially English language teaching through the Government’s Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), English for employment and Skillmax.

SGSCC delivered the AMEP for 13 years, from 1998 to 2011: at the peak of delivery, the College delivered to more than 700 migrants annually. SGSCC’s innovative programs like the SGSCC “English on Tour”, combined classes in English with excursions to places like the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Southern Highlands, the Illawarra and Palm Beach. These enlivened the classroom experience and immersed students into intensive English practice. AMEP off-shoots included the State Emergency Service (SES) auspiced “Volunteer Training for Migrants” and the Skilled Migrant Mentoring Program, which prepared highly trained migrants for the Australian workplace. Partners included the Chinese Australian Services Society (CASS).

Migrant Mentoring

Western Sydney community education providers have developed excellent models of migrant mentoring and work transition, similar to AMES Australia. The Parramatta College’s Skilled Migrant Work-Ready Program supports migrants and refugees who are seeking employment in their professional domain.

Sydney Community College conducted a government-funded Skilled Migrant Mentoring Program and Refugee Mentoring Program and Refugee Mentoring Program in South Western Sydney over a number of years from 2007. From 2012 to 2014, the College ran the Migrant Women’s Micro Business program in the Canterbury/Lakemba area, which combined training in the Certificate 3 in Microbusiness Operations and mentoring for migrant women seeking to start small businesses in Australia. The program worked directly with community-based organisations and local businesses and was a catalyst for the founding of the Lakemba Community Markets.

Special Assistance Secondary Schools

CCA recognises the opportunity to increase schooling options for young people in Western Sydney through special assistance schools owned and operated by not-for-profit community-based education providers. Such schools generally have smaller student intakes and operate within an adult education philosophy to cater for young people dealing with a range of issues such as trauma, anxiety and/or mental health concerns, through to other necessitous circumstances, including family-related issues.

The adult and community education sector has long acknowledged the need for targeted support for vulnerable and disengaged students, and the growth of special assistance schools forms a natural progression within community-based education.

MTC Australia runs two campuses – in Fairfield and Blacktown – of its Special Assistance Secondary School, Warakirri College. CCA understands that other Western Sydney community providers are investigating this model.