2018 CCA Annual Conference

Taking the Lead:
Building Community

Community Colleges Australia Annual Conference

Sydney, 13-15 November 2018

About the Conference

CCA's Annual Conference returned to Sydney this year, with an informative, inventive and invigorating two days of international speakers, expert presenters, government representatives and community education provider specialists.

The CCA Conference is the go-to event for community education CEOs, training managers, other senior staff and board representatives of CCA members, other adult and community organisations, policy makers, consultants, researchers and senior State and Commonwealth government staff.

This year’s conference theme was Taking the Lead: Building Community, with four streams:

  • leadership and governance
  • building skills
  • community and economic development
  • social justice

Read The Report from the Conference here.

The Conference featured the “Community Education Student of the Year” Award at the Gala Dinner on 14 November: read the Awards results here. The sponsor exhibition also returned with more suppliers than ever before: a record 17 organisations, led by Platinum co-sponsors Coverforce Insurance and Ansvar Insurance.

This year’s Conference welcome drinks took place on Sydney's iconic harbour, with a cruise that welcomed delegates to Sydney, where they enjoyed one of the best views in the world.

Click here to access the final Conference program (PDF).

Click here for 2018 Presentations

twitter: #CCAsydney2018

Details of last year's conference can be found here.

The Conference will include sessions on foundation skills, migrant and refugee education, “Going online: Is it worth it?”, social enterprise, business incubators, and CCA action research projects on Western Sydney regional economic development and NSW Aboriginal economic development.

Community Colleges Australia (CCA) has announced the winners of the 2018 Community Education Student of the Year Awards. Lakisha Sloane (nominated by Robinson College in Broken Hill) won, and Jessica Urquhart (nominated by Tamworth Community College) received the Highly Commended award. Click here for full details of the Awards announcement.

CCA had a large number of nominations this year, and the judging panel was overwhelmed with the calibre of our community college students.

Seven of the eight student finalists attended the CCA Gala Awards Dinner in Sydney on Wednesday 14 November, where the winner and highly commended were announced.


Lakisha Sloane
nominated by Robinson Community College

Lakisha Sloane lives in Broken Hill in Far West NSW. This region experiences high levels of youth and generational unemployment. Through sheer determination and family encouragement, Lakisha achieved her Year 12 certificate.

Lakisha then diligently applied herself to complete vocational education at Robinson College. Enrolling into non-traditional mining/construction and high-risk tickets, she stepped out of her comfort zone and completed each one. These qualifications secured ongoing employment opportunities for her. She inspires other young Aboriginal woman to achieve their own goals in areas of employment and sport which are typically non-traditional roles.

Family support, vocational education and employment have changed Lekisha’s future prospects.


Jessica Urquhart
nominated by Tamworth Community College

Jessica studied a Diploma of Leadership and Management, and completed a traineeship through MVS National Valuations and Property Consulting guided by her Tamworth Community College trainer. Throughout her training, Jessica overcame significant personal and health challenges, gained confidence and developed some impressive career and life goals. As a rural based student with a new yearning for further tertiary education, and no university in Tamworth, Jessica was able to access the College’s articulation agreement with University of Newcastle. This meant Jessica could go on to enrol in a Bachelor of Business and credit transfer her Diploma qualification to contribute to completion of her degree. Jessica is a shining example of the flexibility and value of a VET pathway, particularly for rural and regional students.


Caitlin Collett
nominated by St George and Sutherland Community College

Caitlin is a young woman who had the tenacity to balance a full time role and vocational studies in the year she lost her mother. She faced substantial personal and family grief, loss and challenges. Caitlin knew further education was an investment in her future so she never gave up.

Caitlin is a dedicated, passionate, reliable and determined 26 year old who every day supports clients with disabilities, ensuring at all times their rights, choices and individual outcomes are met in an inclusive and respectful way, she  also provides guidance to other team members who support clients with disabilities. She has a major role in leading, training and supporting them to make better decisions with and for our clients so they have opportunities for meaningful participation and active inclusion.


Aaron Curry
nominated by WEA Illawarra

Aaron Curry, a young aboriginal man, was born in Penrith moving to country Victoria at age two. Family issues resulted in him leaving home shortly after turning 16. Aaron moved to Wollongong completing a term at Bulli High School before being expelled due to behavioural issues. He completed year 11 and part of year 12 at ALESCO Illawarra before failing an HSC exam and losing the unit towards his HSC. As an alternative university entry pathway Aaron undertook the University of Wollongong (UOW) Pathways Course conducted by the WEA Illawarra. He successfully completed a Certificate IV in Business and was accepted by University of Wollongong into a Bachelor of Arts majoring in psychology. While waiting for his university year to start Aaron also completed a Certificate IV in Leadership and Management. Aaron has achieved his goal and is currently undertaking his university studies while working part time in WEA Illawarra's enrolment office.


Natasha Dickens
nominated by Central Coast Community College

Natasha ("Tash") studied short courses in barista, make-up and nail technology to pathway into her Certificate III in Beauty Services. Through hard-work and grit, Natasha overcame personal barriers and learning difficulties to become a College Student Ambassador, recently giving a presentation at a Student Recognition Dinner. Tash is now confidently working as a volunteer Beauty Therapist and Drama Coach at a local disability services organisation. She treats clients to facials and make-overs and runs small drama workshops to help boost the self-esteem and resilience of others with disabilities.


Emma Kastelein
nominated by Community College Northern Inland

Emma enjoyed learning at school, however left early due to mental illness.

Due to Emma’s negative learning experiences, she was reluctant to return to study. Encouraged to join the College's Foundations class, Emma found this to be a positive experience, completing a Certificate III Individual Support (Disability), gaining employment with Kiranari Disability Services.

Emma’s confidence and self-esteem have been rebuilt, giving her the acquired skills to assist others in similar situations.

While studying, Emma volunteered for Disability Drama Company and primary schools special education unit, inspiring Emma to obtain formal qualification.


Jasmine Ridgeway
nominated by the Youth Development Foundation

Jasmine is a young mum of two who has drastically turned her life around. She is currently studying a Certificate I Business while working with disadvantaged youth to assist them to improve their lives. Jasmine has come from a very tough upbringing, become an amazing person and is now using her experiences to assist young people who are experiencing similar situations while completing her study.


Shiva Smyth
nominated by Byron Community College

Shiva Smyth began his studies with Byron Community College as a qualified automotive vehicle painter, and by the end of the year was a certified horticulturist on a completely different career path. Today he is running his own property maintenance and landscaping business with great success. The business has multiple clients and is growing. He has engaged a fellow Byron College horticulture graduate as a subcontractor and feels great networking with other local businesses and different people in the community. Shiva also works as an environmental education consultant for Brisbane City Council conducting education programs for all ages at Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, a position that he feels proud of as it provides him with the opportunity to give back to the broader community.

"Adopt as your fundamental creed that you will equip yourself for life, not solely for your own benefit but for the benefit of the whole community."

Sir John Monash

This year the Awards were supported by the NSW Department of Industry.

Decisions on the Award winners were based on the nomination and statement, using the judging criteria of career and study achievements; communication, team and leadership skills development; and achievements in areas other than study and work, including community involvement. More details on judging criteria can be found in Award Terms and Conditions. The judging panel consisted of Vanessa Iles, Manager, Reading Writing Hotline; Sue Outhwaite, NSW Department of Industry; and Wendy Perry, Director of Workforce BluePrint. The panel was chaired by CCA CEO, Dr Don Perlgut.

Details of the 2017 CCA Community Education Student of the Year Award nominees and winners are available here.

“The greatest thing about VET is its accessibility and focus on life-long learning. It’s the only sector of education that embraces the concept of continuous and integrated learning.”

Bruce Mackenzie PSM



Awards Dinner

Community Colleges Australia acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional custodians of our land, Australia. CCA acknowledges that our Sydney conference will take place on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and we welcome any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who wish to attend our conference.