Ahead of the Victorian State Election taking place in November 2022, we are advocating for an increase to the funding for Learn Local providers which will correct the decline in value these programs have faced over the last 15 years. 

Inadequate funding is adversely affecting Houses' ability to provide sustainable and quality pre-accredited education opportunities for vulnerable learners throughout the state, and it's time to correct this with a new and sustainable quality-based funding model and an increase in the student contact hour (SCH) funding rate.

 

What we want

Neighbourhood Houses Victoria (NHVic) with Adult and Community Education Victoria (ACEVic) have undertaken extensive sector-wide consultation and found a systemic underfunding of pre-accredited training in Learn Local providers.

In response to these findings, NHVic and ACEVic are seeking a State Government commitment of the following:

  • Restoration of the SCH rate to meet 2006 value in real terms. This requires an increase to the SCH rate of 73 cents, from $9.10 to $9.83. Regional and other existing loadings would continue to apply.
  • A new funding model designed to ensure payments cover the running costs of ACFE funded training, particularly costs that current SCH funding is failing to reach
  • Annual SCH indexation to ensure the value of the SCH subsidy does not continue to erode

See our letter here.

 

What's at risk?

Failing to act will inevitably lead to more Neighbourhood Houses surrendering their ACFE registration and cancelling their education programs. This leaves those most in need of adult education with few or no opportunities to gain the skills they need for participation in the economy and community.

A quality-based funding model is required to ensure:

  • vulnerable and disadvantaged learners have access to tailored, quality and supportive pre-accredited programs
  • Learn Local providers are adequately funded to plan, deliver and evaluate programs that are responsive to learner, community and industry needs
  • the Victorian adult and community education sector is robust and sustainable, and can fulfill the aims of the Ministerial Statement on the Future of Adult and Community Education in Victoria 2020-2025

Learn Local provider numbers have declined from 363 in 2006 to 274 in 2021. As the Learn Local sector loses providers and communities lose access to education and training, more resources are required to recruit and support the development of new providers.

 

Which Neighbourhood Houses are impacted?

Over 180 Neighbourhood Houses are affected by this failure to properly fund ACFE courses.

 

Why is the current situation unfair?

The current funding model fails to cover the costs associated with delivering ACFE programs because there is no relationship between how it is funded and the way costs are incurred by Learn Local providers.

Furthermore, SCH rate increases have not matched inflation and wage increases for 14 of the last 16 years. This had eroded the value of the SCH rate by 73 cents per SCH in today’s dollars compared to 2006, assuming labour makes up 80% of costs. A lack of annual SCH indexation, together with increased administration and compliance obligations, has effectively cut the funding to these important programs. Projected inflation and increased superannuation obligations will erode the current SCH rate further.

Because the current funding model fails to cover the actual costs of delivering Learn Local programs, Houses that continue to deliver ACFE education will increasingly need to cross-subsidise delivery. This takes up valuable resources that could and should be used for other community benefits. In the worst case, it adversely impacts the viability of Neighbourhood Houses and every aspect of the important support they offer the community.

This historical funding erosion has led to a decrease in the number of providers and therefore localities where pre-accredited training is available. That could make it even harder for learners in the most vulnerable areas of Victoria to access pre-accredited training and core skill development. 

 

Who is the Minister responsible for Learn Local funding?

The Hon. Gayle Tierney MP is the Minister for Training and Skills.

 

How can you help?

Neighbourhood Houses and Networks

Letter templates have been developed for Neighbourhood Houses and Networks to send to MPs and Mayors across Victoria.

Access resources

Other organisations and local governments

If you're an organisation that supports the work of Neighbourhood Houses, please send us your logo and brief statement we will add it to this webpage. Your demonstration of support will be of incredible value to us. Please email [email protected]

More resources will become available as the election campaign heats up. Watch this space.