Policy and Research

Community Colleges Australia (CCA) is committed to providing input into the adult education policy debate at federal, state and territory government levels. CCA undertakes to express its members’ interests to ensure that the vital work undertaken by locally-owned NFP education providers of VET, foundation courses, personal development and life-long learning is acknowledged and represented in future government agendas.

This includes not only education policy, but other key areas that CCA members work across, including social inclusion, disability, health and ageing, Indigenous, re-engaging youth and refugee/migrant education.

Recent contributions from CCA include the following:


The Role of Adult and Community Education Providers in Sustaining Australian Democracy: A Discussion Paper, January 2020.

Link to Paper

Link to Executive Summary


CCA Statement on Sustainability and Climate Change Link to Statement


Submission to the NSW Government: Coronavirus Impacts on NSW Adult and Community Education Providers, 31 March 2020, link to submission Executive Summary


Request to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to re-broadcast two adult basic education TV series, submitted in conjunction with the Reading Writing Hotline, Australian Council for Adult Literacy and Adult Learning Australia, 7 April 2020; link to request


Submission to the NSW Government: Infrastructure Maintenance Funding for NSW Adult and Community Education Providers, 7 May 2020, Link to submission; Executive Summary of the Submission – Link


Submission to Productivity Commission: CCA Response to the Interim Report – National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development, 17 July 2020, Link to submission


Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Students of NSW Community Education Providers Analysis of 2018 Data, September 2019
Executive Summary (pdf)
Full Report (pdf)


Community Education Providers and Western Sydney Regional Economic Development.
Link to Executive Summary and Recommendations (html)
Link to Executive Summary and Recommendations (pdf)
Link to Full Report (pdf)
Link to Appendix B (pdf)
Link to Western Sydney Case Studies (html)


CCA’s Federal Election Policy Platform. Link to Policy Platform.


CCA’s NSW Election Policy Platform. Link to Policy Platform.


CCA Policy on Independent Special Assistance Schools. Link to Policy.


Executive Summary of CCA’s VET Sector Submission. Link to Submission.

Community Colleges Australia Submission to the Australian Government Expert Review of the VET Sector, 25 January 2019. Link to Submission.


Victorian Adult and Community Education (ACE) sector statement, in conjunction with Neighbourhood Houses Victoria, ACE Victoria and Adult Learning Australia. Link to Statement.


Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Students of NSW Community Education Providers: Analysis of 2017 Data. Link to Submission


Workplace Literacy in Australia: Joint Position Statement by Community Colleges Australia, Australian Industry Group, Reading Writing Hotline, Australian Council for Adult Literacy and Adult Learning Australia. Link to Statement


What Community Education Providers Need, 20 July 2018. Link to Article


Maintenance Costs of NSW Community Education Providers: Submission to the NSW Government 21 May 2018. Link to Submission


CCA Statement on Western Sydney Regional Economic Development 6 April 2018. Link to Statement


Review of NSW Government Tech Savvy for Small Business Program 28 March 2018. Link to Review
CCA Statement on NSW Aboriginal Economic Development 27 March 2018. Link to Statement
CCA Statement on VET Student Loans, 15 March 2018. Link to Statement


The Role of New South Wales Community Education Providers in Regional and Rural Economic Development.
Link to Full Report

Link to Executive Summary and Recommendations (html)
Link to Executive Summary and Recommendations (pdf)


Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Students of NSW Community Education Providers Analysis of Participants in Government-Funded VET 2016. Link to Submission


Submission to the Review of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (NVETR) Act 2011. Link to Submission

Supplementary Submission to the National Vocational Education Training Regulator Review: Marketing and Naming”. Link to Submission


Community Colleges Australia Policy on TAFE and Community Education – submitted to the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments as well as TAFE Directors Australia. Link to Policy

Submission on Community Service Obligation Funding for NSW Community Colleges. Link to Submission


The Role of Community Education in Australian Regional and Rural Economic Development – research, policy and recommendations to the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. Link to Policy Paper


Submission to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training on the Implementation of the VET Student Loans Program. Link to Submission


Submission to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) on RTO marketing and naming. Link to submission


Submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Human Services. Link to submission


Submission to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training on the Redesign of VET FEE-HELP. Link to submission


Policy Statement of Ethics Regarding Vocational Education and Training and VET FEE-HELP. Link to policy statement


Inquiry into Vocational Education and Training in New South Wales. Link to submission.


Response to the Victorian Government VET Funding Review Issues Paper. Link to policy submission.


Submission to the Victorian Government on the Independent Review into VET Funding. Link to submission


Submission to the Senate Inquiry into the operation, regulation & funding of private VET providers in Australia. Link to submission

Submission to the VET Reform Taskforce – Discussion Paper on Training Packages and Accredited Courses. Link to Submission


Submission to the Department of Industry Discussion Paper: Towards a Contestable Model Industry Engagement in Training Package Development. Link to submission


Submission to the Department of Industry Discussion Paper: Industry Skills Fund – Youth Pilot Programmes. Link to submission


Submission to the Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) pricing VET under Smart & Skilled Issues Paper. Link to submission


Submission to the ASQA 2013 Cost Recovery Impact Statement. Link to Submission

Submission to the National Skills Standards Council: Improving VET- The case for a new system. Link to submission


Submission to the VRQA Proposed Ministerial Order – VRQA fees Commentary on the Regulatory Impact Statement.  Link to submission


Review of the Standards for the regulation of VET consultation paper. Link to submission

Submission to the VET Transparancy Reform Branch (DIISRTE) VET Activity Data Collection. Link to submission


Submission to The Pathways Committee, Chaired by Ms Gabrielle Upton MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Tertiary Education and Skills. Link to submission


Submision to the Australian Charities & Not-for-Profits Commission Implementation Design: Discussion Paper. Link to submission


Before 2012

Submission to DEC: Smart & Skilled-Making NSW number one. Link to Submission

Vocational Education & Training Fee and Funding Review – Submission to Expert Panel. Link to submission

Submission to VIC Essential Services Commission: VET Fee and Funding Review. Link to Submission

Submission to the National Foundation Skills Strategy Discussion Paper. Link to submission

Comments to the Productivity Commission Draft Report on VET Workforce. Link to submission

The National VET Equity Advisory Council (NVEAC):  Blueprint for Change. Link to submission

Research Projects

Community Colleges Australia undertakes research projects to assist Australia’s not-for-profit (NFP) community education providers to serve their communities, especially vulnerable and disadvantaged learners. These projects provide the evidence base that shows the successes and capabilities of CCA members and the NFP community providers. Current and recent research projects are described below.

Western Sydney Regional Economic Development

Western Sydney is Australia’s third largest economy, after Sydney and Melbourne central business districts. At least 11 current CCA members operate wholly or partially in Western Sydney. With the assistance of the NSW Department of Industry, CCA has investigated how the not-for-profit community education sector can assist the economic development of this important region.

The full report
The Executive Summary and Recommendations
Appendix B: Activities of Western Sydney Not-for-profit Community Education Providers
Western Sydney Case Studies

Read about CCA’s Western Sydney Regional Economic Development Forum, held in Parramatta on 26 October 2018, and view copies of Forum presentations.

Community education and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

Community Colleges Australia acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional custodians of our land, Australia. CCA acknowledges that our Sydney office is located on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

CCA is developing a strategy for how not-for-profit Australian community education sector can work collaboratively with Indigenous organisations and communities to achieve a real improvements in Indigenous educational attainment and empowerment, on local, regional and national levels.

Read CCA’s Statement on Aboriginal Economic Development (March 2018) and Statement on Indigenous Australians and VET, in honour of NAIDOC Week, July 2017.

Community Education in Rural and Regional Australia

Because a significant amount of community-based education takes place in rural, regional and remote Australia (more than 70% of government-funded VET students in New South Wales), community education providers have an important role to play outside of the capital cities. CCA has partnered with governments and peak regional and rural organisation to determine the most effective ways for community education to assist in Australia’s regional economic development, and to achieve educational equity for all Australians. Read more here.

Foundation Skills and Adult Literacy

About one-third of Australians “have literacy skills low enough to make them vulnerable to unemployment and social exclusion”, which “can entrench cycles of disadvantage … exclude these people from the workplace [and] from emerging economy jobs that require a high level of literacy; particularly digital literacy” (SBS Explainer, 2016). CCA members are active providers of adult literacy and numeracy services, both through accredited and non-accredited programs, using professional trainers and volunteer tutors. CCA sits on the National Steering Committee of the Reading Writing Hotline, Australia’s national telephone referral service for adult literacy and numeracy. CCA is the project sponsor for a national research project undertaken by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) that examines how higher education and VET mobilises social, human and built capital in regional Australia. The research started in August 2018 and will complete in late 2019.

Migrant and Refugee Education

Many of Australia’s NFP community education providers deliver educational and other services to migrants and refugees, especially through the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).

Youth Support and Engagement

Every CCA member engages with young people, providing a wide range of services. These range from specialised job skills courses to independent not-for-profit special assistance secondary schools for young people who just don’t fit in to regular schools. CCA is currently cataloguing the diversity of these unique community-based initiatives.

“The challenge of ensuring that all young people remain in education long enough to make a successful transition to work is not new. However, the transition from education to full-time work has become increasingly difficult for young people …. This is because the world of work has been changing. Jobs have been transforming in the emerging knowledge economy and now require higher levels of knowledge and skills to obtain.” (Source: Kaye Bowman, Engaging Young People in Education and Training and How Young People Are Faring, Dusseldorp Skills Forum).

Community Education for People with Disabilities

With the roll-out of Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme, community education providers have an important role to play in supporting people with disabilities. CCA research shows that Australia’s not-for-profit community education providers consistently engage many more learners with disabilities than either TAFE or private for-profit VET providers – frequently up to twice as many on a percentage basis.

Mental Health and Community Education

Community education providers frequently play an important role in supporting the mental health outcomes of their communities, working with Primary Health Care networks and other local and regional organisations to run collaborative projects.  CCA has commenced working with a number of our providers, cataloguing best practice community education activities and models in mental health.

Mature Workers

Community education providers specialise in reaching and training older workers, defined as those aged 45 to 70 years. Because of their historic strengths in delivering lifestyle, leisure and personal development courses to older Australians, community providers are adept at reaching this group. Data from the NCVER shows this to be true: the percentage of people aged 45-plus participating in government-funded VET training in community providers is double the percentage studying with either TAFE or for-profit providers.

Innovation and community education

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” So says Alan Kay, American computer scientist and winner of the A.M. Turing Award. Last year CCA’s national conference focused on the theme of innovation, under the title “Innovation: What’s Next for Community Education?”

Work-based Learning in Community Education Providers

This research project focused on developing a better understanding of the extent to which community providers are delivering training, including foundation skills, through work-based learning arrangements, and the styles of work-based learning that have been successful in up-skilling workers. The research questions were:

  • To what extent are community providers providing work placements?
  • To what extent are community providers delivering work-based learning?
  • To what extent are community providers offering foundation skills to business?
  • What styles of learning have been successful for up-skilling workers?

This project was funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training through its Strategic Partnerships Program. Click here to view a copy of CCA’s interim report for this project (December 2015).