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Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

ALA National Conference 2012

The 52nd Adult Learning Australia national conference was held in Byron Bay last October. Byron Region Community College hosted over one hundred participants in a very successful event exploring Lifelong Learning = Resilient Communities.

College Director, Richard Vinycomb set the scene, followed by Professor Barry Golding, whose global perspective on adult learning made a compelling case for the inseparable links between learning and wellbeing.

Robin Shreeve, Chief Executive of Australian Workplace and Productivity Agency, gave an overview of the policy environment in which adult learning providers currently operate and gave hope that key adult learning issues, such as variable participation across gender, were on the agenda.

In the context of resilience, the very purpose of learning was interrogated and discussed. Key ideas can be summarised in the words of keynote, Alan Tuckett, President of the International Council for Adult Learning; “Most learning isn’t about what it says it’s about; it’s about agency,” and presenter Bob Boughton; “Literacy is about humanity and humanisation.”

Lyn Carson’s keynote presentation on Deliberative Democracies and Annie Kia’s short film about community action against Coal Seam Gas further enlivened the discussion around empowering communities to participate in their own future making.

The value of the notion of ‘resilience,’ however, did not go unquestioned. Critiques ranged from it being just another ‘weasel word’ to a morally questionable expectation placed on communities undergoing upheaval through climate change and other social or economic factors. Robbie Guevara, President of ASPBAE, suggested that, in the context of disadvantaged communities, asking for resilience could even be described as ‘re-silencing.” Bob Boughton echoed this idea in relation to Indigenous Australians.

Day two saw an inspiring tour of nearby township Mullumbimby, home of the main campus for Byron Region Community College and local community gardens.

New Zealand delegate, Jennifer Leahy, extended a warm invitation to all present to attend the next Adult Learning Australia conference in New Zealand in June 2013. Further details will be coming soon.

All keynote presentations and conference papers are available on the ALA website.



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Adult Learning Australia

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