Monday 14 December 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Learn Local Awards were presented as a Virtual Gala Series, celebrating the outstanding achievements of individuals and organisations within the Learn Local network.

Videos announcing the winners were posted daily to the Learn Local social media channels from 30 November for two weeks, hosted by Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist and author Sara James.

Three out of the seven traditional categories were awarded to neighbourhood houses:

  • Creating Local Solutions Award - Heyfield Community Resource Centre
  • Collaboration Award - Cloverdale Community Centre
  • Volunteer Team Award - Rosewall Neighbourhood Centre

This year the public-voted People's Choice Awards were awarded to two additional neighbourhood houses:

  • Wellsprings for Women
  • Kew Neighbourhood Learning Centre

To acknowledge the efforts of Learn Local providers who continued delivery during the pandemic, Innovation in a time of COVID Acknowledgement Awards were also presented to the following houses:

  • Laverton Community Education Centre
  • Phillip Island Community and Learning Centre 
  • Wellsprings for Women
  • Glen Eira Adult Learning Centre

Neighbourhood Houses Victoria CEO Nicole Battle kept an eye out for the daily videos during the gala series, and like many, celebrated from the comfort of her own home.

“Congratulations to all the neighbourhood houses who were honoured at this year’s Learn Local Awards. I’m so proud of the impact our sector continues to have in this space," Nicole said.

Nicole acknowledged that 2020 had been a really challenging year for adult community education providers.

"Keeping already vulnerable learners engaged throughout the lockdowns hasn’t been easy, especially when one of the main benefits that separates Learn Locals from the big institutions is their friendly and personalised approach to learning. For many learners where technology and language are already big barriers, learning online can be daunting and understandably in some cases, not feasible.

Also keeping in mind that Learn Locals are mostly small, community-run organisations with limited resources, that transition to online delivery is a significant undertaking and not something many providers would have ever pursued before. Still, so many upskilled and adapted quickly so that their students could continue their learning.

I know many providers did the best they could under really trying circumstances and hopefully going forward, with these new skills gained, where appropriate online delivery is something that can supplement in-person training programs into the future.

As we start the economic recovery, the role of Learn Locals will be significant because there are many Victorians who’ve lost employment and will need to reskill. And whilst we welcome the recent budget allocation of an additional $1.2 million to expand pre-accredited digital, literacy and numeracy skills offerings across Victoria, further investment is needed.”

Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education, Gayle Tierney, said Learn Locals had a key role in the post-COVID recovery phase.

"In this year of challenge and change, first through bushfires and then coronavirus, Learn Locals are also playing a vital role in Victoria’s economic and social recovery – whether it be building community capacity and resilience, or helping grow our skilled workforce," Minister Tierney said.

"More than ever, our Learn Locals are an important bridge to further training and skills for Victorians who have lost work, playing a crucial role in training people for the frontline workforces we need now. By being embedded in their communities, Learn Locals draw upon the skills and knowledge of local trainers with industry experience who are committed to helping learners build new, real-world skills and improve their lives.

Watch the final video of the Virtual Gala Series which features all the winners:

To watch all of the announcements, visit the Learn Local website and to read about the finalists, check out the 2020 Learn Local Awards program.