Aussie Educator

Adult & Community Education

Adult & Community Education offers ‘learning courses designed for personal enrichment, skill development and professional learning’ [Tasmanian Department of Education]. These may be formal or informal, run by local communities or government agencies and cover everything from drawing to yoga, languages to dance, photography to massage, parenting to managing your finances. They cover leisure skills to life skills. Some can be used for professional purposes.

This page covers procedures and programs in each state & territory, government information, journals, publications, research, University of The Thirds Age [U3A] and other information.

It is not possible to list all providers but it should be possible to access many sources through the links below.

For a range of information, including activities and events around Australia, visit the Adult Learners’ Week website.

For related information, you should also consider information on the Vocational Education page.

States & Territories

Australian Capital Territory

New South Wales

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Northern Territory


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South Australia


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    ‘Victoria’s peak policy, industrial and development body for the Adult Community Education sector’.

Adult and Community Education Colleges in Other Areas of Victoria

  • Adult, Community and Further Education [ACFE] Board
    Overview, structure, links to AMES, CAE and Learn Local [see below], Regional Councils, more.
  • AMES
    ‘Works with new arrivals but also with the community, business and Government’.
  • Centre for Adult Education
    ‘Provides learning to the Victorian community through a wide range of programs and services’.
  • Community Colleges
    Scroll down to the Victorian section for colleges linked to Community Colleges Australia.
  • Learn Local
    ‘Offer a range of education and training programs designed to meet your learning needs. There’s a government registered Learn Local in your community that can help you return to study, improve your reading, writing and maths skills, gain a qualification, get a job or learn something new’. Find a Learn Local here.
  • Learn Local Awards
    ‘Held annually to recognise the inspirational efforts of learners, practitioners and training providers in the Learn Local sector’.
  • Neighbourhood Houses Victoria
    ‘The peak body for the Neighbourhood House and Learning Centre sector in Victoria’.

Other Adult and Community Education Centres

Western Australia

  • Community Based Courses
    Department of Education Services. Information about Standards and Guidelines and Applications for Endorsement. There is a List of Community based courses available from the site.
  • Linkwest
    ‘State association for Community & Development Centres in Western Australia’. Find a Member Centre here. Use the Search Engine or the A-Z listing.
  • Tafe Choices
    Department of Training & Workforce Development. ‘Need help, or have a question ? Get in touch with one of our Institutes for further information or guidance on our courses and qualifications’. Also of value would be their Course Search.
  • Training in Western Australia
    Department of Training and Workforce Development. Coverage includes adult and community education.
  • UWA Extension
    ‘A leading provider of lifelong learning opportunities in a diverse range of community, workplace and professional education’.

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Other Information

Australian Government

  • Adult Learners’ Week
    ‘Part of an international festival of adult learning. Adult Learners’ Week also provides an opportunity for informed discussion about the current provision of adult learning in Australia’.
  • Mature aged People ‘Employees are an investment for any business. Hiring a mature aged worker can be a great investment, bringing many years of experience and knowledge’. Advantages, Age discrimination, Preparing your Workplace, Financial Support and Programs [e.g. Restart - help to employ mature workers], finding more information, more.
  • Literacy Net
    ‘Key information about Australian adult literacy activities and links to additional program, professional development, resource and research sites’.
  • National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults
    ‘A ten-year framework which brings a national focus to improving education and employment outcomes for working age Australians with low levels of foundation skills [language, literacy, numeracy and employability skills]’. Find a link to the document in the Research section below,
  • Reading and Writing Hotline
    ‘Australia’s national telephone adult literacy and numeracy referral service’.

General Sites

  • ACAL
    ‘Supporting literacy and numeracy education for adults’. Their Reports page is worthwhile.
  • Adult Learning Australia
    News, features, publications, events, links, more.
  • AVETRA - Useful Links
    ‘Designed to help researchers find information they need. Links from both Australia and overseas’.
  • BBC - Skillswise
    Some areas are peculiar to the UK [e.g. courses, etc.]. Others could be of value. Literacy and numeracy. BBC quality.
  • Excellence Gateway [UK]
    ‘Provides thousands of examples of effective practice and support documents to help develop your knowledge and skills which are free to review and download. Material from learning and skills organisers and leading online resources also available’.
  • Free Resources [National Centre for Families Learning]
    ‘Whether you’re a parent, an educator or a volunteer, we have plenty of resources in our arsenal to help you fight illiteracy in your community’. USA.
  • Learning Communities Catalyst
    ‘Learning Communities are groups of people - in towns, around centres, or in interest groups - who work toward making lifelong learning possible for everyone’.
    Irish National Adult Literacy Agency. ‘Literacytools is for adults who would like to improve their spelling, reading and numeracy skills’.
  • Year Book Australia, 2012
    Education. Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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Reports & Research


  • Adult & Community Education in Australia
    2015; Adult Learning Australia. ‘A snapshot of the status and role of the not for profit Adult and Community Education sector in 2015’.
  • Reskilling for Encore Careers
    2012; Jane Figgis, NCVER. ‘Describes the encore career concept and why it might be an attractive alternative to retirement or to continuing in the same job past the traditional age of retirement’.
  • Studying beyond age 25 : who does it and what do they gain ?
    2012, Michael Coelli, Rezida Zakirova, Domenico Tabasso. ‘The authors investigate what motivates people to undertake education and training at more mature ages and the impact of this on their labour market outcomes’.
  • The Returns to Mature-Age Education in Australia
    2017; Francisco Perales, Jenny Chesters. ‘Using 15 years of Australian panel data and fixed-effect panel regression models, we examine the prevalence of and labour market returns to different types of educational upgrading between ages 24-63, paying attention to differences by gender, time since attainment and age at attainment’.
  • The Role of Community Education in Regional and Rural Economic Development
    2017; Don Perlgut. ‘This paper examines the role that community education organisations play in regional and rural Australia through providing accredited vocational education and training. It concludes that it is time for a significant investigation into these approaches, supporting pilot and other projects that will assist community providers in regional and rural Australia’.
  • Where Are the Returns to Lifelong Learning ?
    2015; Michael Coelli, Domenico Tabasso. ‘We investigate the labour market determinants and outcomes of adult participation in formal education [lifelong learning] in Australia, a country with high levels of adult education. Employing longitudinal data and fixed effects methods allows identification of effects on outcomes free of ability bias. Different trends in outcomes across groups are also allowed for’.


  • 2015 Adult Participation in Learning Survey
    2015; Learning & Work. ‘This briefing provides an overview of the headline findings from the 2015 NIACE Adult Participation in Learning Survey. The survey series, which began in 1996, provides a unique overview of the level of participation in learning by adults, with a detailed breakdown of who participates and who does not’. UK.
  • Catching Confidence
    2017; Learning & Work. ‘This pack builds on the initial research and experience of tutors using the Catching Confidence tool in different learning environments. It contains a summary of our research findings as well as advice and guidance on how to capture changes in learners’ confidence levels. The pack was developed in response to what teachers felt could be a helpful process in catching confidence ’. UK.
  • Closing the Gap : ...
    Opportunities for distance education to benefit adult learners in higher education. 2016; A. Carlsen, C. Holmberg, C. Neghina, A. Owusu-Boampong. ‘The Impact of Distance Education on Adult Learning [IDEAL] has been studied in a joint project between the International Council for Open and Distance Education [ICDE], the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning [UIL] and StudyPortals (SP). The project period ran from October 2013 to November 2015’.
  • Communit-based Lifelong Learning and Adult Education : ...
    Adult skills and competencies for lifelong learning. 2016; UNESCO. ‘The competency framework proposes a guide for education planners and providers in a lifelong learning system. It can be adopted to formal, non-formal and informal education settings. In a lifelong learning system, learning is a continuum.’. Asia-Pacific.
  • Lifelong Learning and Technology
    2016; John B Horrigan, Pew Research Centre. ‘A large majority of Americans seek extra knowledge for personal and work-related reasons. Digital technology plays a notable role in these knowledge pursuits, but place-based learning remains vital to many and differences in education and incomeare a hallmark of people’s learning activities. USA.’.
  • Life Long Learning Report
    2016; Seamus Nevin for Institute of Directors. ‘Reforming education for an age of technological and demographic change. Tthis is one significant reason for the government to redouble its focus on upskilling the nation; not just children in our schools and students in our universities, but adults who currently sit in relatively secure jobs that may not be so secure in 10 or 15 years’ time’. UK.
  • Models of Community Colleges in Mainland China
    2017; Yi [Leaf] Zhang. ‘This chapter provides an overview of community colleges in mainland China, addressing briefly the recent history of community college development, defining these institutions, detailing various models with examples, and discussing challenges faced by these institutions and recommendations for future development’. China.
  • Power to the People
    The case for Personal Learning Accounts. 2016; Learning and Work Institute. ‘everyone should be entitled to a Personal Learning Account. This would be an online skills passport of previous learning, information on the local labour market and success of learning providers in helping people get jobs and increase their earnings, and set out entitlements to public funding so people are clear what they are entitled to. It would build on the existing architecture of Lifelong Learning Accounts’. UK.
  • Spotlight On ... Lifelong Learning for an Ageing Workforce
    2017; Policy Connect. ‘This report explores the challenges facing older workers in accessing, progressing in and sustaining themselves in the labour market. It argues that we must adopt a new approach to education and training, continually developing the workforce rather than frontloading education and training at the start of one’s adult life’. UK.

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Universities of The Third Age

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