Monday 26 August 2019

On Friday 23 August, neighbourhood houses scored 11 awards at the 2019 Learn Local Awards.

Held this year at the iconic Mural Hall in Myer Melbourne, the Learn Local Awards celebrate the achievements of ACFE-funded adult community education providers, learners and practitioners.

NHVic-member houses won six of the seven competitive categories, and received five out of the eight Learn Local Legends, an acknowledgement award given to one outstanding provider in each ACFE region.

NHVic CEO Nicole Battle attended the awards:

"This was my first Learn Local Awards and I was so proud to see the success stories of our houses highlighted amongst the broader Learn Local sector.

"I think we demonstrated how vital neighbourhood houses are in the post-secondary education space, and that what we do is indeed life-changing work - giving people the confidence and skills to really give it a go in life.

"NHVic is committed to supporting and strengthening our Learn Local providers and we've been actively advocating to ensure the sustainability of adult community education in Victoria, particularly in recent months.

"Working with our providers, we helped to develop a strong set of recommendations which were put forward at the Ministerial ACE Summit earlier this month. In addition, next month we will be delivering an all-day training session on how to be an effective Learn Local provider to ensure our staff are equipped with the resources and knowledge to continue to deliver quality education programs."

See photos from the evening

Neighbourhood house winners

The Ro Allen Award - Recognising Pre-Accredited Learner Excellence

Chithrika Senanayake - Wellsprings for Women

After migrating from Sri Lanka, Chithrika put her best foot forward and enthusiastically took charge of her education pathways. Demoralised by being unable to get a job as a teacher’s aide, she decided to volunteer supporting English classes at Wellsprings for Women. She then enrolled in the Creative Enterprising Women course where she saw an opportunity to build her own business.

She enthusiastically took charge of her education pathways, however none of this was simple due to her husband’s health problems, and having two daughters to care for. She developed a sound set of goals, worked on her self-belief, and created a strategy. Within a year she had laid the foundations for her new business as a mobile reflexology practitioner, and completed an online non-accredited Diploma in Reflexology. She is now a student Alumni at Wellsprings, supporting the CEW class in a volunteer role.

Chithrika’s vision is to earn enough to run her household, save for a house deposit and complete further studies. Now she’s building her client base in aged care facilities and wellbeing centres.

Victorian Learn Local Young Pre-Accredited Learner Award

Rory Madden - Kew Neighbourhood Learning Centre

Disability is no barrier to Rory’s eagerness to achieve and learn, so much so that he’s commenced further studies in transition education at Swinburne TAFE and looks forward to future learning opportunities.

He began his educational and skills-based training at Kew Neighbourhood Learning Centre in 2018 studying pre-accredited tasters in horticulture and carpentry. Rory achieved a range of skills and knowledge of industry and training requirements in every aspect of the work environment, from OH&S assessments, to planning and sequencing tasks and equipment maintenance. As a result, his confidence, interpersonal skills, verbal communications, public speaking, and literacy and numeracy skills have flourished.

Rory has a great work ethic, enjoys the satisfaction of successfully achieving a task, and in so doing, he impressed his tutors with his efforts. During the community work aspect of the horticulture program he provided gardening services for local elderly people. Rory planted himself happily into the role of helping others.

Victorian Learn Local Volunteer Team Award

Women Connect Hotspot Office Volunteers - Phillip Island Community & Learning Centre

Thanks to volunteers at The Women Connect Hotspot Office, located in Phillip Island, previously isolated women are thriving because they’re being engaged in the endeavours of creating small businesses, or embarking on further education.

Phillip Island is largely a tourist destination, so it has significant employment challenges, especially for women experiencing social and economic disadvantage. Small business ventures suit many of the hotspot clients. The core volunteer team of 10 professional women run a dynamic, inspiring environment. Volunteers may be called upon for simple tasks such as applying for online police checks or birth certificates, or for training advice and business mentoring in everything from employability skills, small business training and IT, to digital marketing and social media. No job is too big or small.

As a result, their clients develop increased confidence in areas that would previously be overwhelming, and feel nurtured to stay on track with their personal and professional goals.

Victorian Learn Local Pre-Accredited Pathway Program Award

Creative Enterprising Women Program - Wellsprings for Women

Creative Enterprising Women provides a unique intensive pre-accredited training program for women who have experienced barriers to employment and education such as mothers re-entering the workforce and those experiencing poverty, family violence and mental health issues. It’s situated in the City of Greater Dandenong, which is rich with cultural and linguistic diversity.

The program has two main pathways: one for in-depth and specialised business programs in the local community, and the other to support women to start micro-enterprise businesses. Much of the first term is spent working through blockages, as well as building strengths and skills; where there are complex issues, other support systems are sought. The highly flexible approach addresses each individual’s needs.

What a difference this program is making. CEW helped one woman complete a food handling course and open a Vietnamese food truck. Of the 18 women who completed the course, 16 went on to further study, employment or volunteering.

Victorian Learn Local Creating Local Solutions Award

Moon rabbit "bridges" the gap - The Bridge

The Moon Rabbit is a character in Asian folklore known for kindness and generosity. The Moon Rabbit Café in Preston has these values in spades. It’s a social enterprise that assists neurodiverse adults (people with disabilities including poor mental health and autism) up to the age of 28, to learn hospitality skills. They are well prepared for employment and enjoyment.

The 20-week bespoke work-readiness program, delivered through The Bridge neighbourhood house, provides one-on-one support and practical training with a strong focus on the development of confidence, resilience and skills, including employability skills.

Rarely does a pre-accredited program capture the hearts of so many people who genuinely want to see the students succeed. Moon Rabbit café provides a high standard, competitive service and customers take a personal interest in the students. Without exception, every student has reported that the program has brought meaning to their lives and a better quality of life. This result is immeasurable.

Victorian Learn Local Collaboration Award

Kinglake Ranges Employment and Enterprise Program - Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House & Ellimatta Youth

Two small community groups joined forces with a passion to double their impact on the large numbers of unemployed and vulnerable youth in the Kinglake Ranges. Ellimatta Youth is an early intervention youth service and Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House (KRNH) is an established community hub and Learn Local provider.

Prior to their collaboration, many vulnerable people had fallen through the cracks of a system that could not cope. The Kinglake Ranges Employment and Enterprise Program took a more individualistic approach and offered uncapped support that was specific to the individual needs of people who live in a remote location and have varying abilities.

Many people sought out their services and are progressing to employment and/or study. In a small community, this creates a ripple effect for others to seek change. At the heart of this successful model is that the partners share similar objectives and work collaboratively to achieve sustainable outcomes.

Learn Local Legends

Bacchus Marsh Community College

Nominated by ACFE Grampians Regional Council

The Bacchus Marsh Community College provides education, community development and support services for vulnerable community members including low-income learners, migrants, unemployed, people with disabilities and people with drug and alcohol issues.

Training offered includes certificates in early childhood education and care, individual support, floristry, and horticulture.

The college works closely with other Learn Local providers in the region to share information and as an RTO is able to partner to deliver accredited programs.

Partnerships include one with Melton Specialist School to deliver the Certificate II in Horticulture through traineeships to their clients; with Moorabool Shire Council for a range of activities and grant submissions; and with the Australian College of Higher Education as the RTO to deliver a VCAL program.

Cloverdale Community Centre

Nominated by ACFE Barwon South West Regional Council

Cloverdale Community Centre works in partnership with Foundation 61, a residential rehabilitation centre located on the outskirts of Geelong, to deliver pre-accredited courses aimed at addressing the residents’ education needs.

The pre-accredited courses are co-designed to provide employability and vocational skills that value-add to other programs provided by Foundation 61 and provide a pathway into accredited vocational education and training.

Pre-accredited courses conducted in partnership with Foundation 61 include Become Job Ready, Introduction to Metalwork, Communication 101, Introduction to Horticulture and Introduction to Kitchen Operations.

Courses are tailored to engage and address the needs of people experiencing drug and alcohol issues and are innovatively designed to engage the local community in education and provide a pathway into an accredited course.

Paynesville Neighbourhood Centre

Nominated by ACFE Gippsland Regional Council

Paynesville Neighbourhood Centre (PNC) has engaged priority cohort learners in Paynesville and Bairnsdale over many years including in agribusiness, construction, and employment skills pre-accredited training pathways.

They commenced formal delivery from their ‘Aspire Precinct’ in Bairnsdale in 2018. This precinct is delivering hands-on training to learners in the building and retail areas.

PNC has developed strong engagement with learners using social media and has supported Learn Local organisations in East Gippsland, Wellington and South Gippsland.

PNC has engaged in a number of Strengthening Pathways for Adult Learners in Gippsland Community of Practice meetings over the past few years. They have mentored other Gippsland Learn Local organisations to implement the New Horizons project developed by the Centre.

Wellsprings For Women

Nominated by ACFE Southern Metropolitan Regional Council

Wellsprings for Women (based in Greater Dandenong) has significantly increased delivery of pre-accredited programs and enrolments over the past two years.

They are contracted for 15,240 student contact hours in 2019 (13,072 in 2018) as well as having Learner Engagement A-Frame Program funding to deliver programs. Courses offered include Introduction to Community Services, the Enterprising CALD Women Education Program and Education for all Learning Abilities.

Wellsprings also delivers in the City of Casey. They have very strong links with local support networks and work collaboratively with other providers and Chisholm TAFE.

They participated on the Steering Committee for the Purse / SARA project (financial literacy for women) recognising that many of their learners were in need of financial literacy training.

Cire Services

Nominated by ACFE Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council

Cire Services demonstrates leadership and capability to deliver innovative programs both in urban and outreach settings, and excels at partnering with other Learn Locals to get great pathways for learners.

They engage with industry to identify employer workforce needs to assist pathways to jobs for learners and identifies the needs of learners and contextualises and delivers programs that specifically address the needs. They provide appropriate advice and wrap around services to support students to succeed.

Neighbourhood house finalists

Congratulations to the following finalists for their incredible achievements:

  • Hamida Adbi, a learner at Kensington Neighbourhood House
  • Louisa Vale, a teacher at Manna Gum Community House
  • Wellsprings Child Minding Champions, a volunteer team at Wellsprings for Women
  • Kew Neighbourhood House Learning Centre for their Learn to Work program
  • Kyneton Community House for their Skills for Life program
  • Cire Services for their Women's Warehouse Essentials program