2019 CCA Annual Conference

CCA's 2019 Annual Conference

The Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Annual Conference travelled to Brisbane in November, with an informative, inventive and invigorating two days of international speakers, expert presenters and community education provider specialists.

The Conference featured the award ceremonies of the “Community Education Student of the Year” at the Gala Dinner on 19 November. Our annual sponsor exhibition returned with more suppliers than ever before.

This year’s conference theme was Expanding Possibilities, with a focus on how Australia’s not-for-profit community education providers are expanding how they serve their communities, in education, training and community services.

Contact us if you have any questions.

Dates & Locations

Welcome Drinks: Monday 18 November
Old Government House, QUT, Brisbane, QLD

Conference: Tuesday/Wednesday 19/20 November
Gala Dinner: Tuesday 19 November
The Stamford Plaza, Brisbane, QLD

Conference strands

Education and Training

We looked at how Australia’s community education sector could expand its possibilities in education, training and other services to:

  • Disadvantaged and vulnerable learners, including those from lower socio-economic backgrounds
  • people with disabilities
  • learners with low literacy, numeracy or digital engagement skills
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • young people, including special assistance secondary schools
  • rural, regional and remote residents
  • migrants, refugees and those with limited English language skills
  • people who face mental health challenges
  • small businesses

Leadership and Governance

The CCA Conference provided opportunities for not-for-profit community providers, senior managers and board directors to expand their skills in strategic planning, managing board dynamics, developing new business models, strategic finance, fundraising, responding to adversity, managing risk and change management.

Build your Skills

Skills we covered  included how to approach foundation skills teaching, meeting privacy requirements, digital marketing, community engagement, engaging disadvantaged young people, developing your mentor program, human resources, leadership development and building resilient teams.

Community and Economic Development

Place-based learning constitutes the core business of our members, however their activities extend well beyond the classroom; they provide numerous opportunities for engagement in community life, learning and work.

Civil society organisations in Australia are essential structures to ensure democratic functioning, as a recent broadcast on ABC Radio National illustrates. All of our sector’s activities lead to increased civic participation and building “social capital”, particularly in regional, rural and outer metropolitan locations where local educational institutions are part of the “glue” that holds communities together.

The Conference examined how we could increase our participation in and collaboration with new ventures such as social enterprises, education precincts, entrepreneurship and social impact studies.

What participants said about the 2019 conference

“All sessions were interesting and engaging.”

“This year was my first time at the CCA conference and I was
impressed and surprised by the variety in workshops and exhibitors.”

“Thanks, team CCA – one of my favourite CCA conferences, if not my favourite.”

“Overall, I was exhausted by the end of the conference from the packed agenda
and relevance of the content. There was nothing I wanted to miss. It was great!”

“Rich topics, engaging speakers, great venue.”

“Thank you so much for all of your hard work, great conference!”

“It was a great conference all round- thanks. So well organised! A great
combination of serious, interesting, fun, inspirational and useful.”

“Conference very beneficial and a good learning environment.”

“Thank you for your dedication and effort in putting together an interesting
and relevant program.”

“Excellent mix of main sessions and workshops.”

“Nice balance of governance, stats, policy, HR, practicality and inspiration.”

“Well-structured and delivered.”

The Stamford Plaza

The Stamford Plaza Brisbane is a premier Brisbane event venue, close to the Botanic Gardens and directly overlooking Brisbane River, featuring more than 200 modern rooms (all with spectacular views of the river), restaurants and bar, swimming pool, gymnasium and sauna.

The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Brisbane City, close to parking and public
transport facilities.


Old Government House

Built in the early 1860s by the first governor of the newly formed Queensland colony, Old Government House was used as the seat of Government until 1910, before becoming part of the University of Queensland’s first campus. As an unsuitable venue for teaching, It fell
into disrepair until recognised in 1960 as a vital part of Queensland’s heritage. After major renovations by the National Trust and the University, the house reopened in 2009, and is now one of Brisbane’s best-preserved historic landmarks.

Old Government House also houses art works of the renowned Australian artist William Robinson, and our Welcome Drinks attendees will have exclusive access to the exhibition.

View of OGH from roomthreesixty_QUT_20Yr Club Dinner (2)

Getting to the Conference: Transport Options


Secure Parking has a number of car parks within walking distance of Stamford Plaza Hotel. The nearest are:

  • 10 Felix Street (50m)
  • 60 Edward Street (110m)
  • 200 Mary Street (150m)
  • 53 Albert Street (300m)

Public Transport

Trains run from the airport to Central Station approximately every 30 minutes. It is a 10 minute walk to the hotel from Central Station, or alternatively catch the City Loop Bus 40 from Adelaide Street Stop 26 to Edward Street Stop 146 – a minute’s walk from the hotel.


Taxis are available at the airport, train station and hotel.  It will take approximately 25  mins from the airport or 6 minutes from Central Station, depending on traffic.

Walking Between our Two Venues

Community Education Student of the Year Awards 2019

Community Colleges Australia (CCA) is pleased to announce the third annual “Community Education Student of the Year Awards”, with the official ceremony at the CCA Conference Gala Dinner at the Stamford Plaza in Brisbane on the evening of Tuesday 19 November 2019.

This year’s nominations are students who have undertaken formal study with an Australian not-for-profit community education organisation during the period 1 September 2018 through 31 August 2018, with nominations submitted through their community education provider.


Carmel Kentwell, nominated by Atwea College

Carmel Kentwell is a woman that has faced serious life challenges and hardship. Despite these challenges, she has proven that education is possible for everyone, regardless of the journey that they have been on.

Carmel has three young children, all of whom have identified disabilities, including Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Communication Disorder, Developmental Delays and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Carmel grew up in a lower socio-economic area, having limited access to educational opportunities and found herself in a situation of recurring domestic violence, abuse and homelessness.

Over the course of the last ten years, she has worked diligently to break that pattern and build a better life for herself and her children. She is an admirable student and Atwea College believe that she deserves recognition for her resilience and achievements.

Highly Commended

Kylie Mahon, nominated by Community College Northern Inland

Kylie Mahon, a refuge support worker, is still pinching herself at the way her life has turned around. Two years ago, Kylie and her five children were homeless in Sydney. With the support of a caseworker at a Sydney shelter the family moved to Inverell and Kylie made tentative inquiries about courses at Community College Northern Inland and enrolled in a Certificate III in Community Services at the Inverell College centre. Kylie tells her story:

“I hadn’t picked up a book for 20 years. I had no confidence in myself at all, I was unemployed and very withdrawn. But I met Tania the coordinator. She said, ‘You can do it.’ I think she saw that I was someone who really wanted to change my life but I needed someone to hold my hand and get me started. She has just been amazing. I really wanted to help people who were in the same situation that I’d been in. But not for a second did I think I’d get a job. I thought there are so many people who are more qualified than me.”

Having completed her course, Kylie walked straight out of the College and into work. “My job provider saw an advertisement for a position at the Inverell Women and Chidren’s  refuge and said, ‘That job’s for you!’ And we spent a whole day together working on my application. My advice to someone who finds themselves in a similar situation to me? Go for it. Don’t procrastinate. Open that door and walk through it and ask about what education is available to you. It could change your whole life.”

Kylie says the women who stay in the refuge know that she understands from personal experience what they are going through: “That goes a long way with clients. They appreciate that I have knowledge that doesn’t come from textbooks. I just love this work, it’s so rewarding. I had the privilege recently of reuniting a mum with her three daughters and bringing the family back together into a home. That was an amazing feeling.”

Kylie is well qualified for working with women and children subjected to domestic violence. She spent a decade in a relationship with a violent partner, with whom she had four of her five children, who are very proud of her: “My kids and I have a whole new life. I’ve instilled the work ethic in my kids. They can see how committed and consistent and on track I am. We are a very close knit family because of all that we’ve been through. I was surprised to be nominated for a scholarship. I like to think I’m a positive person but I get anxious because I am so used to my life turning into a mess. So it’s surreal to have these amazing opportunities presented to me. I still feel like I’m dreaming.”

Aejay Russell, nominated by Kiama Community College

Aejay Russell is a proud transgender woman who has achieved so much Kiama Community College (KCC) has privileged to have been a part of her journey. Aejay migrated from the Philippines and has been in Australia for almost three years. Aejay used to work in the Philippines as a hairdresser and when she arrived in Australia wasn’t able to work for a year. Aejay came to study a Cert III in Barbering so that she had industry recognised skills and qualifications. As soon as we met Aejay, she expressed time and again her willingness to work and secure a stable income so that she could afford a rental property and be independent. The College assisted Aejay with a professional and tailored resume which was representative of her current and growing skills and experience. The College also assisted Aejay in her search for work, introducing her to many salons in the Shoalhaven region; she managed to secure her first Australian employment with Moe n Co in Nowra. This was a monumental achievement for Aejay and so very exciting. Aejay stated she felt accepted at KCC and that this was a great experience for her to be a part of a learning community. She has also stated her success is monumental considering barriers she has had to overcome with being transgender and a migrant to Australia.


Rosie de Grosbois, nominated by Byron Community College

Rosie de Grosbois hails from Indonesia and English is her second language. She started studying as a nursing assistant, which she had to give up when she found out she was pregnant. Since then she has been working part time in aged care as an assistant, but wanted to get qualified so she can further her work in aged care support.

The Byron Community College was recommended to Rosie by a friend but she was hesitant to study given her fear of writing in English and completing assessments. She “took the plunge” and enrolled in the Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) in January 2019. In addition to the writing challenges Rosie is also a mother of three young children and working part-time, however she never wavered completing all her tasks and assessments on time.  Rosie comments:

“The tutors and student support were fantastic. They helped me with my writing and completing assessments.  I never thought I’d be able to write well in English and now I can.

“It was a lot of hard work and lots to manage but I never gave up, that just wasn’t an option and now it feels so good to have finished and be up to date with all my assessments. I have already recommended the College to another friend to come and study.

“I can’t wait to start working with my qualifications. I have always loved helping people and making them smile.”

Rosie became an Australian citizen on 17 September 2019. She is looking to take up permanent employment in the aged care industry soon.

Natasha Ducker, nominated by Riverina Community College

Natasha Ducker had an employment history within the transport industry; in preparation to re-enter the workforce, she decided a business role would suit her and her family’s needs. She knew that this would require her to undertake further study. Natasha originally commenced a Certificate II course with the Riverina Community College, and it became evident that her skill level was well above Certificate II level, so she enrolled in a Certificate III Business Administration.

While waiting for the Certificate III Business Administration course to commence, the Riverina Community College Business Coordinator received a call from a well-known business owner in Wagga to ask for suggestions of students who would work well within his industry. Natasha was successfully interviewed and commenced a full-time role with the business the next day. Since commencing employment and through a partnership with her employer and the College, Natasha is undertaking a Certificate III Business Administration via a combination of work-based and distance learning.

Natasha is methodical, thorough and dedicated in how she balances work, family and study. She is very highly regarded in the workplace, and is working with the management team to integrate the current administration processes to increase efficiency. The integration of work with study has added value to both aspects of this, as Natasha is able to see first-hand how the study can improve her work practices, and also how her high level of skill is able to be formally recognised through the study she is undertaking.

Brittany Muller, nominated by TLK Community College

Brittany Muller has proved herself a mature and confident person, staying on track at all times with her studies and her training plan.  Brittany has also proved herself an asset in the workplace. Completing her traineeship within the allocated timeframe allowed Brittany to commence her studies for the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. This shows that Brittany is dedicated to lifelong learning and the early childhood sector.

Brittany is employed with another OOSH and her new employer is very impressed with her knowledge and dedication to the industry. During her studies with TLK Community College, Brittany proved her ability to articulate herself and provide completed assessment tasks above and beyond what was required for a Certificate IV level.

Being in the early childhood industry, Brittany has had to participate in teams for her work and she has had to liaise with parents, community members and other stakeholders within the sector. This industry can be very challenging at times and Brittany has developed the necessary skills through her studies such as effective communication and resilience to deal with any issues that may arise. Brittany is currently completing her Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, requiring her to show leadership in her field of expertise.

Brad Wilson, nominated by Western Riverina Community College

Brad Wilson lives in Barellan, a small rural community in the NSW Riverina. While undertaking his Certificate 1 in Access to Vocational Pathways he has been employed part time at the Barellan & District War Memorial Club. The board members of the club have the highest respect for Brad for the quiet efficient way that he goes about his tasks maintaining stock and inventory at the club.

Throughout the time that Brad has been attending Western Riverina Community College (WRCC) he has demonstrated significant growth in both personal confidence and communication skills. Within the class environment he has demonstrated great leadership skills and the ability to relate to other students and assist them in complex tasks.

Between Brad’s studies and his part-time employment, he shows his real talents with his artwork. His artworks have graced several local exhibitions, most recently the Leeton Shire Council, which invited him to display one of his pieces of a local landmark in their Art Deco festival.

The support that Brad receives from his family, local community, Griffith Post School Options and also vocational education have allowed him to look at broadening his horizons and encouraged him to start marketing his artwork.

Bradie Woodman, nominated by Youth Development Foundation

Bradie Woodman is young woman who struggled to obtain full time work and after experiencing some personal trauma. She was fortunate to gain the opportunity to participate in a Skilling Queensland for Work program with Youth Development

Foundation (YDF), completing a six week program called “Ready for Work”. Her participation in this program has completely changed her life. It has been pivotal for her to be able to turn her life around, overcome personal challenges and create hope and positivity for her future. She is now employed full-time and has completed a traineeship in Certificate III in Business.

Bradie came to YDF a shy, quiet young lady who had no idea of where she headed with life, let alone employment or further education and training. After a short time YDF could see her confidence growing and her connecting with others on her program. Her dedication to helping others prompted YDF to offer her employment, which has worked out very well.

Judging: Decisions on the Award winner/s will be based on the nominating organisation’s nomination, based on 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 (link below).

Details of the 2018 CCA Community Education Student of the Year Award nominees and winners are available here.

Our Sponsors

CCA thanks all of our Brisbane 2019 Conference sponsors, listed below. We recommend them to our members and friends and look forward to working with them again in the future.

Participants particularly commented positively on the government engagement presentation and workshop, the breadth of Ministerial presence, the funding sessions, the three overseas visitors, the variety of topics and presenters, networking with peers, quality of presentations, the two evening functions, the different perspectives on VET reform, engagement skills, interactivity in break-out sessions and access to discussion with ASQA staff.