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Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

E-literacy program supports homeless learners

A blended model of online and face-to-face education is allowing disadvantaged and homeless students to learn new skills, gain qualifications and increase their opportunities for employment.

Matthew Talbot Homeless Services (MTHS) – a special work of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW – is partnering with TAFE NSW Sydney Institute to use e-learning tools to support content development and course delivery for modules of e-literacy and foundation skills.


The project will also trial the use of mobile platforms and social networking in addressing the barriers to engagement, participation and completion in education faced by the homeless community.


“Since early 2009, TAFE Outreach at Ultimo College has been working with us to provide accredited education programs to disadvantaged learners, particular the homeless and those at risk of homelessness,” says Brett Macklin, Operations Manager of Matthew Talbot Homeless Services.


“Studies show that many homeless people are adept and enthusiastic users of digital technology, and they find online environments to be a safe place from which to interact with the ‘real’ world,” says Macklin.


“Blended delivery of this type can enable ongoing supported, self-paced learning regardless of classroom attendance. The building of e-literacy skills in this environment can also bring the awareness of achievable vocational and training opportunities to those with little or no formal education.”


Both MTHS and TAFE Outreach are leaders in providing services to homeless and marginalised communities in New South Wales. By pooling resources, knowledge and infrastructure, they are developing an innovative approach to education for disadvantaged learners.


This pilot is being developed as the first stage of a three-stage project that will eventually provide access to e-learning and online support for students in regional New South Wales.


The project has been made possible through funding from the National VET E-learning Strategy, whose Partnerships for Participation program offers opportunities, through targeted funding, to develop e-learning approaches to improve the e-literacy, foundation skills and pre-vocational skills of individuals experiencing disadvantage.


The National VET E-learning Strategy is the responsibility of the Flexible Learning Advisory Group (FLAG), a key policy advisory group on national directions and priorities for information and communication technologies in the VET sector.


“By sponsoring e-learning programs, we are expanding participation and access for learners, stimulating innovative approaches to training and employment, and improving the skill levels of the Australian workforce,” says FLAG Chair Raymond Garrand, Chief Executive of the South Australian Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology.

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