2021 National ACE Summit

Community Colleges Australia (CCA) will hold a National 2021 Adult and Community Education (ACE) Summit, a half-day hybrid online and in-person event to be held on 29 June 2021.

Please note: We recommend that you use Google Chrome as your browser for an optimal registration experience for this event.

Summit Purpose

To ensure the ACE sector can support Australia’s national economic recovery through education, training and community development.

The National 2021 ACE Summit will broaden the knowledge of the national ACE sector, and showcase its community-based, innovative programs and pathways that can help governments succeed in meeting Australia’s economic, employment and social challenges in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic-induced recession.

Summit Value

Enhanced capacity of the ACE sector, along with stronger connections across states and regions, will deliver real results for the Australian economy. The ACE sector has unrealised potential and capacity to produce local and regional economic benefits and job pathways. The Summit will examine relevant national and state policy settings, programs and support, and the ACE sector’s strengths, geographic and organisational capabilities, structures and achievements.

Join us for this unique opportunity to develop proposals and future programs to engage Australia’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged in skills development.

Hear about some of the best and innovative local, regional, state and national ACE provider programs.

Meet – virtually or in person – some of Australia’s leading “connectors” who are driving change and making a real difference.


The Summit will host an impressive array of speakers from all around Australia (click here for details); confirmed to date:

Ministerial Keynote Speakers

  • The Hon Dr Geoff Lee MP, NSW Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education
  • The Hon Gayle Tierney MP, VIC Minister for Training and Skills & Minister for Higher Education
  • (invited) The Hon Stuart Robert MP, Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business

Other Keynote Speakers

  • Dr Marcia Keegan, Associate & Partner, SGS Economics and Planning, “Australia’s Economic Wellbeing: The Role of Community Education Providers” (in person)
  • David Crosbie, CEO, Community Council for Australia, “Surviving and thriving in challenging times – lessons from today” (in person)

Commonwealth Government Speakers

  • Jason Coutts, Assistant Secretary, Foundation Skills Branch, Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE), “The importance of foundation skills in the Australian economy”
  • Emma Gleeson, Assistant Secretary, Aged Care Workforce Branch, Australian Government Department of Health, “Support for New Aged Worker Training”

Shadow Ministers’ Panel: topic – how to support Australian ACE providers in foundation skills and aged care training

  • Brent Mickelberg MP, QLD Shadow Minister for Employment, Small Business and Training
  • Dr Matthew Bach MP, VIC Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Training and Skills

Aged Care Workforce Panel Discussion

  • Yasmin King, CEO, SkillsIQ
  • Susan Scowcroft, CEO, Community Services & Health ITAB
  • Nilay Gencturk, Uniting
  • Representative from major Aged Care Provider Member Organisation

Foundation Skills Panel Discussion

    • Tim Rawlings, Director and Head of Training Product Development, PwC’s Skills for Australia, PwC Australia
    • Vanessa Iles, Manager, the Reading Writing Hotline
    • Jo Medlin, President, Australian Council for Adult Literacy (ACAL)
    • Kylie Fergusen, CEO, Community Centres SA

Other Speakers

  • Luke Hutchinson, Office of the Student Identifiers Registrar

Welcome to Country

  • Uncle Allan Murray, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council

The Summit Chair will be Frier Bentley, former National Manager, Government Relations, The Smith Family & former General Manager, Public Affairs, Communication & Sustainability, Australian Beverages.


View the Summit draft program.

Join us at the 2021 National ACE Summit on 29 June 2021

How You Can Participate

The National 2021 ACE Summit provides numerous opportunities to get involved:

  • Register to attend the Summit, either in-person or virtual (online), through this link – click on “Register Now”. Please note: We recommend that you use Google Chrome as your browser for an optimal registration experience. Cost: In-person participation is $85 for CCA members or $100 for non-members (includes lunch and two morning teas); or online $50 for CCA members or $65 for non-members. Purchase two online registrations and receive unlimited for your organisation.
  • Participate in one of two national working parties: on the future of foundation skills – language, literacy, numeracy, digital and employability skills – or planning the aged care workforce in the light of the recommendations of the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care. These working parties will commence in June and formulate recommendations to be considered at the Summit. Contact CCA on admin@cca.edu.au if interested in participating in one or both of these groups.
  • Showcase your innovative response the “ACE Summit Innovation Video Challenge” (see below).

Call to all ACE providers – Summit Innovation Video Challenge

Promote your organisation’s success story by video: CCA has issued an open call to all Australian ACE providers to promote a success story from your organisation at the Summit. We are looking for videos of maximum 90 seconds – best length is 45 to 60 seconds – that illustrate an ACE innovation or success story. Preferred stories will relate to foundation skills or aged care training delivery, ideally in conjunction with your aged care or foundation skills community partner/s. However, any strong innovation is welcome. CCA will upload all suitable videos to our YouTube channel and broadcast the best videos during the Summit. Two prizes will be awarded: to the most engaging foundation skills video, and to the most engaging aged care training video. Enter as many times as you like. Contact CCA for details on how to upload your video. Submissions required by Tuesday 15 June.

INTERESTED – or just want to be on our mailing list?

Email CCA on admin@cca.edu.au with your details, including any special interests.

The Event

Venue: The National 2021 ACE Summit will “broadcast” from the historic Mint, 10 Macquarie Street, Sydney 2000 (location here) – where you are invited to join us in person, and will be accessible through “hybrid” virtual video-streaming, nationally and internationally. We are pleased to showcase the ACE sector from one of Australia’s oldest buildings.

Timing: The Summit will take place on the morning of Tuesday 29 June 2021 – we will commence at 8.30am for welcome coffee & tea, with a formal opening at 9.00am, and conclude at 1.30pm for lunch. In-person spaces will be limited. In the unlikely case of a Sydney “lockdown”, the Summit will proceed solely on a virtual basis.

Cost for participation is moderate; registration – for in-person or virtual participation – is now open, with unlimited virtual participation for the price of two registrations.

Sponsors and Supporters

CCA seeks sponsors and supporters to help de-fray the costs of the National 2021 ACE Summit. Contact CCA on admin@cca.edu.au for a sponsorship/supporter prospectus, or download a copy here (PDF). Help Australia’s ACE sector and ensure that your organisation’s message is communicated to adult and community education providers and government decision-makers.

Background - Our Current Not-Quite-Post COVID-19 Moment

Australia’s adult and community education sector has a key role to play in getting vulnerable and isolated Australians back to work and engaged with the community, especially those who have been affected by the pandemic and the economic slowdown. The ACE sector – which has almost half a million students each year in accredited vocational education and training (VET) – 11.6% of the national total in 2019 – consistently “punches above its weight” in engaging Indigenous Australians, people with disabilities, rural and regional residents, people from lower socio-economic groups, mature (age 50+) Australians, people from non-English speaking backgrounds and women. (Read the CCA 2020 analysis of student data from New South Wales.)

Despite the vaccine roll-out, the potential for new small-scale outbreaks of COVID-19 from returning Australians and international transport workers point to a continuing volatile health environment and heightened community level of alertness. While the Australian economy looks likely to continue to recover during 2021, it will probably not reach full “pre-pandemic” economic recovery until 2023 or even 2024.

The pandemic has led to unprecedented investment by Australian governments to stabilise the economy while managing the health crisis. As JobKeeper finishes and JobSeeker benefits are reduced, community and workplace education and training support programs become even more important.


Help us promote this Summit; use the hashtag #ACESummit2021 in communications and social media.

Acknowledgement of Country: The physical location of the ACE Summit will take place on the lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation. CCA acknowledges their Elders, past, present and emerging, and warmly welcomes any Indigenous Australians who will participate in the Summit. We look forward to welcoming a representative of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council to undertake a formal Welcome to Country.