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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
    Provider and organiser of adult and community education across NSW. A list of NSW Community Colleges, compiled by ACE is found here. Each listing has a link to the relevant website [where one exists], as well as other information.
  • New ! Community Colleges NSW
    Listing of community colleges across NSW.
  • NSW Adult Literacy & Numeracy Council
    ‘Representing teachers, workers and others interested in the field of adult literacy and numeracy in NSW. To promote awareness, understanding and cooperation amongst providers in the field of adult literacy, numeracy and adult learning’.

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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’.
  • Updated ! 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.
  • Community Learning
    Department of Training & Workforce Development. Community learning, Adult and Community Education, Computer Skills, Literacy, links, more. Of value would be their Course Search.
  • Linkwest
    ‘State association for Community & Development Centres in Western Australia’. Find a Member Centre here. Use the Search Engine or the A-Z listing.
  • 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’.
  • Investing in Experience Employment Charter and Tool Kit
    ‘A one stop practical guide for employing people over 45 years of age. It provides practical help for your business or organisation to assess the demographics of your workforce, to identify and address potential skill and knowledge gaps, and to recruit and retain experienced staff’.
  • 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 Links 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’.
  • Disengaged Youth and Adult and Community Education
    2014; Adult Learning Australia. ‘This paper outlines reasons for disengagement, motivations for re-engagement, and factors that contribute to re-engagement, with illustrations of how this is happening in ACE. It also touches upon factors that impinge on organisations providing such program’.
  • Rethinking Community Based Learning
    2014; Sally Thompson, ALA. ‘This paper suggests that the informal and non-formal learning that occurs in and through Adult and Community Education in Australia has been enormously beneficial but has largely gone unheralded’.
  • Updated ! Studying beyond age 25 : who does it and what do they gain 3;
    2012; Michael Coelli, Domenico Tabasso, Rezida Zakirova. ‘Investigate[s] what motivates people to undertake education and training at more mature ages and the impact of this on their labour market outcomes’.
  • The Role of Adult & Community Education in Regional & Rural Australia
    2013; ALA. ‘As a result of more limited opportunities in often less formally educated, non-metropolitan Australia, the outcomes from education by sector are also very different. This paper suggests that Adult and Community Education is critically important in addressing access and equity beyond the metropolis in Australia’.


  • A Theoretical Basis for Adult Learning Facilitation : Review of Selected Articles
    2015; Mussa S Muneja. ‘The aim of this paper is to synthesize a theoretical basis for adult learning facilitation in order to provide a valuable systematic resource in the field of adult education. A call is given to African academics in adult learning to push boundaries further in the field of andragogy in order to be applicable in the current socio-political and economic realities’. Tanzania.
  • Lessons Learned from Accelerating Opportunity
    2015; Randall Wilson. ‘Based on four years of designing and managing Accelerating Opportunity, Jobs for the Future and our partners have uncovered critical lessons for replicating and scaling this promising initiative for adult learners’. USA.
  • Making Skills Everyone’s Business
    2015; Julie Strawn. ‘A call to transform Adult Learning in the United States. It offers seven strategies that hold great promise for improving the conditions that create and perpetuate poor literacy, numeracy, and problem solving’.
  • Motivating Factors for Adult Learners in Higher Education
    2015; Olusegun Agboola Sogunro. ‘This paper presents eight top most motivating factors for adult learners in higher education. The study concludes that these eight factors are critical to eliciting or enhancing the will power in students in higher education toward successful learning. The implications for practice and further research are also discussed’. USA.
  • Older Adult Education : New Public Pedagogy in 21st Century Taiwan
    2015; Ya-Hui Lee. ‘In response to the impact of population ageing and low fertility rates, numerous elementary schools, junior high schools, and universities have allocated resources and space to establish learning centres and learning camps for senior citizens, providing them with the opportunity to learn. Older adult education extends beyond the classroom and into society, forming a new public pedagogy in Taiwan’. Taiwan.
  • Qualification of Adult Educators in Europe : Insights From the Portuguese Case
    2015; Caterina Paulos. ‘This article explores the role of the European Union in defining an adult education policy and the way European countries appropriate those guidelines and implement them in their realities’. Portugal
  • Transforming our world : Literacy for Sustainable Development
    2015; UNESCO. ‘The literacy programmes featured in this publication are drawn from every region of the world and testify to the central role of literacy in responding to sustainable development challenges such as health, social equality, economic empowerment and environmental sustainability’.
  • What Works for Disconnected Young People : A Scan of the Evidence
    2016; Louisa Treskon. ‘The purpose was to conduct a scan of the current state of the evidence regarding what works in helping disconnected young people, defined as the population of young people ages 16 to 24 who are not connected to work or school’. USA.

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Universities of The Third Age

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