Reflections on 2023 from Adult Learning Australia

Reflections on 2023 from Adult Learning Australia

A big thank you to all ALA members, my board colleagues, and the ALA team for championing adult learning and community education throughout 2023. Our collaborative efforts help keep our initiatives vibrant and relevant. I am looking forward to 2024, where our combined expertise can help shape policy, transform lives, and open new doors of possibility. Special mention to Board members Nigel Wilson and Stephen Billet who finished up on the Board this year. Season’s greetings and best wishes to all!  Kathleen Priestly

Reflections on 2023

Throughout the year, ALA increased our advocacy for adult learning and community education. We actively responded to government policy changes, participated in numerous advisory groups and committees, and successfully organised Adult Learners Week.

Additionally, we conducted the well-received What Works professional development series and published three editions each of our Australian Journal of Adult Learning and Quest magazine.

We welcomed new staff member Sharmy and bid farewell to Catherine Devlin, who had served the organisation diligently for more than a decade. Furthermore, our long-term Communications Coordinator, Gina Perry, was temporarily replaced by Sophie Arnold while Gina took 6-months leave.

ALA collaborated with many other peak organisations to support the YES campaign. Although it was not successful, we remain hopeful that increased awareness and community learning in the future will generate stronger momentum to give rise to the voice of Australia’s First Nations people. Here is a quick recap of the highlights.


Adult Learners Week

Celebrating the theme "It’s never too late," we witnessed numerous inspiring events throughout Australia during Adult Learners Week . Libraries, councils, neighborhood houses, TAFEs, and community colleges hosted events, emphasizing the joys of adult education and lifelong learning.

Our Adult Learners Week kicked off with both in-person and online events, featuring the charismatic MC Brian Nankervis and compelling stories from singer/songwriter Karise Eden, author Jackie French AM, and other 2023 Ambassadors. Relive or share the experience by watching the event video here.

Additionally, ALW scholarship winners Hayley and James had the honor of meeting Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O'Connor at Parliament House, Canberra.



This year, we have intensified our advocacy for adult learning and community education. You can review our submissions and read our media releases for more information. As a result of our advocacy and submissions to the federal government, we are now actively participating in several advisory bodies, including the Foundation Skills Advisory Group and the VET Workforce Blueprint Steering Group.

To stay informed about government changes, you can explore the recently signed National Skills Agreement between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments. This agreement is crucial for shaping the future of the national vocational education and training (VET) system.

To read about changes to the Foundation Skills programs and view the Australian Government's response to the Inquiry into adult literacy and its importance, click here.

Furthermore, you can learn more about the development of the VET Workforce Blueprint and the Jobs and Skills National Foundation Skills survey. This survey is a crucial part of the new national study on adult literacy, numeracy, and digital skills.


Contributions of workplace experiences to adults' lifelong learning

Take a look inside the latest Australian Journal of Adult Learning.

The articles in the special issue present an array of topics and areas of study by researchers from the northern and southern hemispheres. Individually and collectively they capture workplace experiences of adults and the educative experiences in and through work activities.

Thanks to our special editors Dr Cheryl Ryan and Prof. Stephen Billett and our long time Editor Dr Trace Ollis for pulling together this fabulous edition.

Call to papers for our Special Edition 2024: Australian Journal of Adult Learning Power, policies, and practices in adult literacies.



Catch up on our 2023 Quest stories

Missed our stories this year. You can catch up anytime on our Quest articles about the fabulous adult learners and educators around the country.

There are plenty of back issues too if you want some inspiration over the summer. We would also love to hear about any new stories for our 2024 editions. Contact us on 03 9689 8623 or [email protected] anytime.


Professional development

Upcoming in 2024: What Matters professional development series. Adult literacy and learning practice. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

Past webinars: Did you miss our professional development sessions in 2023 or want to watch them again? Catch up with our recordings here.



Learning Changes Lives Foundation

We funded life changing programs through our Learning Changes Lives Foundation including the Reading the Play project in Geraldton Western Australia. The program is helping men build their reading and writing skills in a relaxed, informal environment.

This year we provided two scholarships to support adult learners Mikayla and Rebecca in their learning. Rebecca wants to continue her reading and writing skills with 26Ten and Mikayla wants to complete her pathways to further education for her bachelor's degree.



Hot Summer Picks from our VIPS, Board and Staff contributions

We asked our VIPs, ALA Board members and staff for their recommendations for what to read, watch and listen to over the summer break. To find out more go to the listing on our website.


We look forward to
working with you in 2024


Thank you for supporting us in being a strong national voice for the recognition and celebration of adult and community education. Our members play an important role in shaping our policies, informing our research, and strengthening our advocacy. All the best for 2024 from the ALA team.


Discussion topics: 

CR&DALL Themes: