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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

  • Adult and Community Education, NSW [ACE]
    Provider and organiser of adult and community education across NSW.
  • Community Colleges NSW
    Full listing of community colleges across NSW. A list of NSW Community Colleges, compiled by the Adult and Community Education NSW [see above] can be downloaded here. Each listing has a link to the relevant website [where one exists], as well as further information
  • NSW Adult Literacy & Numeracy Council
    ‘Peak professional body representing teachers, workers and others interested in the field of adult literacy and numeracy in NSW. The Council’s role is to promote awareness, understanding and cooperation amongst providers in the field of adult literacy, numeracy and adult learning.’

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Northern Territory


  • Adult Community Education
    Training Queensland. ‘Adult Community Education provides a diverse array of vocational and learner interest focused education and training that fosters the development of skills required for individuals to participate fully in their communities and the economy’.
  • Investing in Skills
    Training Queensland. Includes a section on community learning including a specific program.
  • Communify Queensland
    Community education is part of their overall activity.
  • Lifelong Learning Council Queensland [Inc]
    ‘Voluntary, non-government organisation with a membership drawn from the broad spectrum of adult and community learning and education in the public, private and community arenas.’ Most value may be the Directory of Adult & Community Learning Database, which ‘contains information about organisations, individuals, government agencies and enterprises/businesses that provide courses and support for learners all over Queensland.’
  • Department of Education & Training
    ‘Our purpose is to engage Queenslanders in life long education and training and to build a strong arts and cultural sector which enriches the lives of Queenslanders.’
  • Queensland Council for Adult Literacy
    ‘QCAL promotes literacy as the key to effective life-long learning for all. It seeks to establish and maintain opportunities for adult members of the community to improve their literacy and numeracy skills’.

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South Australia


  • Adult and Community Education [Tas]
    ‘Information about adult and community education courses, programs and resources in Tasmania, and links to other adult and community education websites.’ Includes links to the following.
  • Adult and Community Education Online Access Centres
    Select from the two Quick Find alphabetical listings on this page.
  • Adult Learners’ Week
    Information about this week is posted at the appropriate time.
  • LearnXpress
    State Library of Tasmania. ‘This website is an initiative of the Community Knowledge Network [CKN] an agency of the Department of Education, Tasmania. CKN brings together 66 Online Access Centres, eight Adult Education Centres and 45 urban and regional libraries from across the State with the resources of the State Library and the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office to enhance access to information services, community learning and literacy support. Currently all the courses advertised belong to the Adult Education program. Over time an even broader range of courses will be added to this site from other programs within CKN and those developed in partnership with CKN’. Listed under Leisure, Life Skills and Work.

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    ‘ACEVic is Victoria’s peak policy, industrial and development body for the Adult Community Education sector. We represent Victoria’s Adult Community Education centres’.
  • Learn Local Courses
    ‘Learn Local organisations run adult community education and training programs giving people from all walks of life the chance to learn new skills. Decide what, where and how you want to learn’. You can find out how to How to Enrol here.

Adult and Community Education Colleges in Other Areas of Victoria

  • Adult, Community and Further Education [ACFE] Board
    ‘This section contains information about the Adult, Community and Further Education [ACFE] Board and Learn Local education and training. Learn Local education and training is for everyone and with a network of over 320 adult community education organisations across Victoria you will be sure to find one close to you. New skills can be life changing and also lead to more job choices - Learn Local organisations are here to help you on your unique learning journey’.
  • Association of Neighbourhood Houses & Learning Centres
    Peak body for these in Victoria. Information, further links.
  • Centre for Adult Education
    ‘CAE exists to provide learning to the Victorian community through a wide range of programs and services’.
  • Community Colleges
    Scroll down to the Victorian section for a listing of community colleges linked to Community Colleges Australia. Each listing has a website where available plus other details. There are both city and rural colleges.
  • Learn Local
    ‘Learn Local organisations run adult community education and training programs giving people from all walks of life the chance to learn new skills. Decide what, where and how you want to learn’.

Melbourne Adult and Community Education Centre

  • Monash Short Courses Centre
    ‘The Monash Short Courses Centre is a not-for-profit service provided by the Monash Student Association. Our courses are open to all, not just to Monash students and staff. Our Centre includes a variety of specialist facilities such as a dance & fitness studio, computer labs, art facilities, workshop and Ceramic Art Studio’.
  • Victorian Learn Local Awards
    ‘The Victorian Learn Local Awards are held annually to recognise the inspirational efforts of learners, practitioners and training providers in the Learn Local sector’.
  • Victorian Skills Gateway
    ‘The Victorian Skills Gateway is a one-stop-shop of Victorian vocational education and training to help find the best option for you. Searches can be performed on occupations, courses, training providers, video and written case studies. This website is also viewable via a purpose-built smartphone interface ’.
    ‘Engage in learning, Explore’.

Western Australia

  • Adult Community Education [ACE]
    From the VET section of the Department of Education & Training, covering everything from ‘What is ACE ?’ through to publications and other links.
  • Community Based Courses
    Information about these from the Department of Education Services. There are downloads about Standards and Guidelines and Applications for Endorsement plus a link to information on Community Participation as well, there is a list of Approved Community Based Courses.
  • Linkwest
    ‘Linkwest is the state association for Community & Development Centres in Western Australia. It currently has over 70 member Centres’. Check the “Member Centres” link to access these.
    Among the centres here are the following.
  • UWA Extension
    ‘Part of the community outreach of The University of Western Australia. We are 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

  • Community Education and National Reform Discussion Paper
    From Voced. Department of Education, 2006. View or download.
  • experience+
    ‘Experience+ describes a range of new services for job seekers and workers aged 45 years and over and their employers’.
  • Lerni
    ‘Multilingual learning resources for emerging communities’. Introduction, Find a Course, Resources, Index, Languages. Site available in multiple languages.
  • LiteracyNet
    ‘This site contains key information about Australian adult literacy activities and links to a range of additional program, professional development, resource and research sites’.
  • TILT : Tap into Learning Today
    ‘Tap Into Learning Today is designed to help share information and communication tools vital to the success of lifelong learning programs and initiatives’. Information for learners, service providers and others.
    ‘TGA is the official National Register of information on Training Packages, Qualifications, Courses, Units of Competency and Registered Training Organisations [RTOs] and has been developed for experienced training sector users’.

General Sites

  • Adult Literacy Resource
    ‘Links to national and international websites and resources’.
  • ACAL
    [Australian Council for Adult Literacy]
    ‘Promotes adult literacy and numeracy policy and practice. Our Executive is elected annually and the membership includes a representative of each state and territory of Australia.’ Their Links page is worth visiting though some links no longer work.
  • Adult Learners’ Week
    ‘Adult Learners’ Week in Australia is 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 and to consider what improvements are needed to take Australia forward.’ All details for across Australia can be found here.
  • Adult Learning Australia
    News, features, publications, events, links and more.
  • Adult Learning Providers - Australia
    Use the “Community Education Providers” and “Find a Course” links.
  • AMES
    ‘We are Australia’s largest provider of humanitarian settlement, education, training and employment services for refugees and newly arrived migrants. We link our services together to create better outcomes for our clients’.
  • Australian Neighbourhood Houses & Centres Association [ANHCA]
    ‘ANHCA represents nationally over 1 000 Neighbourhood Houses, Community Houses, Learning Centres, Neighbourhood Centres and Community Centres which are member organisations of their state and territory peak/representative bodies’.
  • AVETRA - Useful Links
    ‘These links pages are designed to help researchers find information they need. It contains a wide range of links from both Australia and overseas’.
  • BBC - Skillswise
    While some areas are peculiar to the UK [e.g. courses, etc.], there are others which would be of value. Covers literacy and numeracy. BBC quality as well.
  • Community Colleges Australia
    ‘Community Colleges Australia [CCA] is the peak body representing not-for-profit community owned providers of adult and youth education, training and learning in a local environment’.
  • Excellence Gateway
    ‘The Excellence Gateway is the complete online service for everyone working in the further education and skills sector in England. The Excellence Gateway provides thousands of examples of effective practice and support documents to help develop your knowledge and skills which are free of charge to review and download. A wealth of material from learning and skills organisers and leading online resources is also available’.
  • Free Resources [National Centre for Family Literacy]
    ‘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. Explore our offerings to find resources’. US site.
  • 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. The Learning Communities Catalyst is a space for practitioners to access and share information to help build and support Learning Communities.’
    Irish National Adult Literacy Agency. ‘Welcome to Literacytools. Literacytools is for adults who would like to improve their spelling, reading and numeracy skills’.
  • Year Book Australia 2009-10
    Adult and Community Education, ACE. Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • New Zealand Literacy Portal
    ‘The New Zealand Literacy Portal is designed to provide a knowledge base of adult literacy information contributed by both New Zealand and international organisations. It provides a rich source of information for all people in New Zealand interested in adult literacy’.

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Reports & Research


  • Achieving Inclusive Adult Education and Training Practice
    2008 research by ALA.
  • Adult Education Literacy Instruction : A Review of the Research
    A report released in 2010 by the Literacy Information and Communication System in the US.
  • Centre for Research on Education Systems
    ‘The Centre for Research on Education Systems [formerly Centre for Post-Compulsory Education and Lifelong Learning] is an internationally-renowned centre for research on school and education and training systems with a very successful track record in designing and undertaking large-scale evaluations of educational programs, policies and initiatives’.
  • Emerging Technologies in Adult Literacy and Language Education
    A report released in 2010 by the Literacy Information and Communication System in the US.
  • Lifelong Learning
    Research report for this area, done by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia [CEDA].
  • Lifelong Learning : An Annotated Bibliography
    ‘This annotated bibliography brings together 224 separate reports and research papers assembled by the Lifelong Learning Network to illustrate the scope of contemporary research on lifelong learning.’ View, download or use the PDF version.
  • Lifelong Learning in Australia
    ‘The lifelong learning policy agenda has four distinguishing features : The recognition of both informal and formal learning; the importance of self-motivated learning; an emphasis on self-funded learning; and the idea that participation in learning should be universal.’ MS Word format document.
  • Scope of ACE in Australia
    “Implications for Improved Data and Reporting - Volume 1”. ‘This document is the first in a two part series presenting the results of research which looks at the provision Collection of ACE in Australia.’ The Second Volume, analysing the information, is found here.
    These are now only available to Registered Users. However, Registration is free. If you log on, they will come up automatically.
  • Where do Australian Adults Learn ?
    2003 research through ALA.


  • European Society for Research on The Education of Adults
    ‘Promotes and disseminates theoretical and empirical research on the education of adults and adult learning in Europe through research networks, conferences and publications.’ Extensive information.
  • National Centre for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy
    ‘A federally funded research and development centre focused solely on adult learning. NCSALL’s efforts are dedicated to improving practice in educational programs that serve adults with limited literacy and English language skills, and those without a high school diploma.’ US based. Interesting.
  • National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy, UK
    ‘Dedicated to conducting research and development projects to improve literacy, numeracy, language and related skills and knowledge. On this site you will find information on all our activities,’ Resources, publications, news, projects and more.
  • NRDC - National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy
    ‘NRDC is the national independent centre for adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL. Widely recognised for its expertise within England, the centre has an international reputation and works across the UK and worldwide’.
  • RaPAL - Research and Practice in Adult Literacy
    ‘The only British national organisation that focuses on the role of literacy in adult life. We are an independent network of learners, teachers, managers and researchers in adult basic education’.
  • The Centre for Literacy
    ‘The Centre for Literacy is a centre of expertise that supports best practices and informed policy development in literacy and essential skills by creating bridges between research, policy and practice’. Canada.
  • The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education [NIACE, UK]
    ‘The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education aims to encourage all adults to engage in learning of all kinds’. Find what is happening in the UK and access a wide range of research in this area.
  • Workbase
    ‘Workbase is passionate about improving adult literacy, numeracy and communication. Our practical and sustainable solutions deliver great results’. New Zealand.

Universities of The Third Age

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