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 returns to Sydney this November, promising an informative, inventive and invigorating two days of international speakers, expert presenters and community education provider specialists.

It 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, employment service agencies, policy makers, consultants, researchers and senior State and Commonwealth government staff.

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

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

The Conference will feature the “Community Education Student of the Year” Award at the Gala Dinner on Wednesday 14 November. Our annual sponsor exhibition will also return with more suppliers than ever before.

Contact us if you have any questions, and mark your diary now.

Conference Schedule

Tuesday 13 November 2018, 6.00 pm: Drinks on the Harbour.
This year our welcome drinks take place against one of the world's most famous backdrops with a 2 hour cruise on Sydney's iconic harbour.

Wednesday and Thursday, 14 and 15 November: Conference Day 1 & Day 2.
An eclectic mix of key note speakers and streamed presentations, catering for the different areas of interest in the ACE arena.

Wednesday 14 November, from 6.30 pm: Gala Dinner, featuring the Student of the Year Award.
Our annual dinner will be held in The Grand Central Ballroom at The Mercure, and will once again celebrate the achievements of our incredible students.

Click here for the confirmed speakers

Click here for draft program

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.

The Hotel

The Conference and Gala Dinner will be held at The Mercure Sydney, 818-820 George St, Sydney NSW 2007.

The Mercure Sydney features more than 500 modern rooms, a busy restaurant and bar and a rooftop indoor swimming pool, gymnasium and sauna.

Accommodation: Conference attendees will receive a discount when booking accommodation at the Mercure: please call 02 9217 6797 and quote code CCA2018 - this will give you access to 10% off the best unrestricted rate of the day at the time of making the booking.

Other Accommodation options nearby:

The area around Central Station has a wide range of accommodation styles to suit all budgets.  As well as preferential rates at the Mercure, CCA has been able to arrange the following discounts:

The Old Clare Hotel, 1 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008:  A boutique hotel, stretching across two iconic heritage-listed buildings – The Clare Hotel pub and the Carlton & United Breweries Administration Building.  A few minutes walk from the Mercure, the hotel sits among the newest cafes, restaurants and bars in Chippendale. Conference Attendees will receive a 15% discount by contacting the Reservations Department or calling 02 8277 8277, and quoting CCA2018.

28Hotel, 28 Regent Street, Chippendale, NSW 2008: 28Hotel promises everything you need and nothing you don't. With a range of rooms and secure parking, the hotel offers a great budget-conscious alternative. Close to Central Station and three minutes walk from the Mercure, the hotel is in an excellent location for our delegates. Conference Attendees will receive a  15% reduction on the best available online rates (Booking.com, Expedia etc) using the promocode CCA2018.

Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Central offers apartment living with the benefit of full hotel services within a beautifully restored and heritage-listed landmark.  Use the promocode TH10880530 to receive a 10% discount on the market rate over the nights of 11-17 November 2018.

The Cruise: Drinks on the Harbour

These year CCA's welcome drinks (Tuesday 13 November) will take place on Sydney's iconic harbour. The two hour cruise will welcome our attendees to Sydney, letting them greet old friends, meet new delegates, network with speakers and sponsors, all while enjoying one of the best views in the world.

The cruise will leave from Darling Harbour, King Street Wharf at 6.00 pm sharp for a two hour tour with light refreshments.

The Neighbourhood

The Mercure Sydney sits next to Sydney's historic Central Railway Station, near the centre of Sydney's major transport links. This part of Sydney has been transformed in recent years, with the opening of the new Palace Central Cinema in Broadway’s Central Park Mall, and architectural masterpieces such as the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, the first in Australia designed by Frank Gehry, one of the world’s most celebrated architects. For those interested in the “new economy”, The Mercure sits in the geographic centre of Australia’s start-up innovation systems, based in Ultimo, Pyrmont and Surry Hills, and “a stone’s throw” from the ABC’s national studio headquarters. The Mercure also sits only minutes from Sydney’s Chinatown, Darling Harbour and iconic Capitol Theatre. The University of Sydney’s classic sandstone campus is a short stroll away, as are the stylish shops and coffeehouses of Glebe. Sydney’s best bargain and remaindered bookshop, Basement Books, sits less than 100 metres from the Conference venue.

The City

We have some of the best beaches, the most exciting fashion and shopping and truly great dining experiences. The City of Sydney is proud of its arts and creative spaces, including hidden public artworks. Want some more recommendations? – try Time Out’s “50 best things to do in Sydney” or Trip Advisor’s list of best-rated attractions. CCA’s CEO, a long-time resident of Sydney, recommends walking the Sydney Harbour Bridge (via the historic Rocks), touring the Sydney Opera House, taking the ferry to Manly (and then walking around to Shelly Beach), tasting the culinary and beach-side pleasures of Bondi Beach, visiting Darling Harbour, walking to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair – and back through the Botanic Gardens, visiting the Art Gallery of NSW (free admission), checking out Taronga Zoo, and – for those with an extra day or two – travelling west to the glorious scenic and historic Blue Mountains, for one of the most exciting mountain experiences, only 90 minutes away by a train that leaves almost from your hotel door.

CCA is delighted to announce the eight finalists for Student Of the Year Award 2018.

Thank you to every organisation that took the time to nominate students. CCA had an extremely large number of nominations this year, and the judging panel was overwhelmed with the calibre of our community college students.

The student finalists have been invited to the CCA Gala Dinner on Wednesday 14 November, at The Mercure Hotel, Sydney, where the winner and runner ups will be announced.


Here are the finalists:


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.


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.


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 Centre

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 are supported by the NSW Department of Industry.

Prizes: The total prize "pool" for the winner and honourable mentions will exceed $2500.

Decisions on the Award winner/s are 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 the Terms and Conditions.

View the 2018 Award Terms and Conditions here.

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

Community Colleges Australia (CCA) has released its 2018 Conference Sponsorship Brochure, detailing opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors to showcase themselves at this year’s conference.

The 2018 CCA Conference is the opportunity for your company or organisation to connect with not-for-profit community education providers and lift your profile in our sector. The Conference is a unique opportunity to meet with our member adult and community education (ACE) organisation members in person, given that so many of them operate in regional and rural locations.

Our delegates include community education CEOs, training managers, other senior staff and board representatives of CCA members, other ACE organisations, employment service agencies, policy makers, consultants, researchers and senior Commonwealth and state government staff.

Our sponsors: Our sponsors receive acknowledgement prior to, during and after the conference through conference materials, the conference app, CCA’s website and emails. Our sponsors enjoy significant contact with delegates during the conference and social events – at every morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea-time. Attendance at the welcome drinks and awards dinner is encouraged, where sponsors can mingle with delegates in a more relaxed setting.

Our sponsorship levels: We are pleased to offer sponsorship at three levels: Gold, Silver and Bronze, with special one-off opportunities for sponsoring the Conference Opening/Welcome Drinks, and the 2018 Community Education Student of the Year Awards.

CCA extensively promotes the annual Conference, both in Australia and internationally. Sponsors enjoy exposure to our large database of ACE providers, industry experts and stakeholders with regular newsletters, emails and social media posts to targeted groups throughout the conference lead-in. The sooner you sign on as a sponsor, the more recognition you will receive as we promote the Conference. In both 2016 and 2017, all exhibition opportunities were subscribed many weeks in advance.

For more details: download the sponsorship brochure or contact us – email Anne Walter or ring us on (02) 9233 3634.

CCA 2018 Annual Conference Registration

Please note: prices below are exclusive of the Eventbrite booking fee* and GST.

Ticket Type

CCA Members

Non Members

Full Conference

  • Attendance at all sessions on Conference Day 1 and Day 2 at the Mercure Hotel, including lunch and refreshments
  • Attendance for you and one guest (CCA Members only) at the Drinks on the Harbour Cruise at 6.00 pm on Tues 13 November
  • Attendance for you only at the Gala Dinner at the Mercure Hotel at 6.30 pm on Wed 14 November



One Day only

  • Attendance at all sessions on Day 1 or Day 2 at the Mercure Hotel, including lunch and refreshments
  • This ticket does not include attendance to the Drinks on the Harbour Cruise or Gala Dinner - if you wish to attend either or both of these, and are not attending as another delegate's guest, please purchase additional tickets



Drinks on the Harbour Cruise

  • If you would like to join the Drinks in the Harbour Cruise but have not purchased a full conference ticket
  • if you have a full conference ticket and would like to bring additional guests on the cruise (one guest is included in the CCA Members' full conference ticket)



Gala Dinner

  • If you would like to join the Gala Dinner but have not purchased a full conference ticket
  • If you have a full conference ticket and would like to bring a guest to the dinner



*The Eventbrite booking fee comprises 2% of ticket price plus 99c per ticket to a maximum fee of $7.95 per ticket


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.