About us


ATwo women laughingdult Learning Australia (ALA) is the national peak body for adult and community education (ACE). We are a not-for-profit entity with both organisational and individual members in all states and territories who reflect the diversity of adult and community education. ALA is primarily funded by membership dues, subscriptions and project revenues. In 2017, we celebrated our 57th year of operations.

Our vision

Lifelong and Lifewide Learning for all Australians

Lifelong learning is learning throughout the adult years via the formal education system, in workplaces and through community participation. Lifewide learning is developing the skills and knowledge required to engage in meaningful work; to participate fully as a citizen in a vibrant democracy; to live in harmony in a diverse, multi-cultural and rapidly changing society and to manage one’s health and personal wellbeing, particularly in the senior years.

What is ACE?

In Australian policy terms, ACE has two distinct meanings. It refers to adult learning programs that are non-formal and non-vocational and usually have no prerequisites. It also refers to a sector of not-for-profit local community-based organisations who offer adult learning programs. ALA advocates for both definitions of ACE.  We want both good quality programs as well as a strong network of providers. We are also committed to local solutions to community learning needs.

Our role

  • We advocate at the national level for greater attention to adult and community education both in policy and funding terms.
  • We advise all levels of government, particularly at a national level through our relationship to the Department of Education and Training.
  • We conduct and disseminate the results of research of relevance to practitioners.
  • We foster innovative learning methodologies.
  • We develop and publish adult learning resources.
  • We offer professional development events and forums for our members and stakeholders across Australia.
  • We unite adult educators, trainers, tutors, learners and organisations from different sectors and locations within the adult and community education space.
  • We support Adult Learners’ Week and manage the Adult Learners Week website.
  • We keep members and others informed through our quarterly e-magazine, Quest, covering issues, events, people, ideas and projects on adult learning.
  • We publish the Australian Journal of Adult Learning, a highly respected A rated journal that provides information and analysis of the theory, research and practice of adult education and learning.
  • We present an Australian voice at international forums, including through our membership of the AAACE in the United States, NIACE in the UK, the International Council of Adult Education (ICAE) and Asia South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE).
  • We manage a national database of adult and community education providers.

Our history

The Australian Association of Adult Education (AAAE) was founded at a meeting in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1960. In 1989, AAAE amalgamated with the Australian Association of Community Education to form the Australian Association of Adult and Community Education (AAACE). The name Adult Learning Australia (ALA) was adopted in 1998 to reflect a changing adult education environment. It confirmed the association’s view that the learner is the central focus of our attention, and that learning occurs through informal and non-formal means, as well as through the formal tertiary education and training systems.

Here is a link to our constitution.