David Crosbie – Chief Executive Officer – Community Council of Australia
Improving educational engagement and year 12 attainment for the Australia We Want.
If we want stronger communities, a more prosperous, productive and happier Australia, inclusive education and lifelong learning must be a higher priority.
When Community Council for Australia (CCA) first brought sector leaders together to discuss the Australia we wanted to live in, agreeing the priority values we all supported was relatively straightforward. We all wanted to live in a just, fair, safe, equal, inclusive, united, authentic, creative, confident, courageous, optimistic, generous, kind, compassionate Australia.
Commitment to these values was shared. Agreeing how we would know these values were being implemented – the measures or indicators – was more challenging.
There was one area everyone in the room readily agreed had to be a priority indicator – access to education. Education changes lives, reduces inter-generational inequality, and creates opportunity.
It has been estimated that for each person who does not complete year 12 or its equivalent, the lifetime cost to the community is almost $1 million.
The issues, the problems surrounding educational disadvantage and disengagement are well-known. When CCA brought together community, academic, education and business leaders together to talk about the outcomes we want from education, our focus was on solutions – and what we can do to make them happen.
Leaders united around two resounding messages. We need to create lifelong learners – children, young people, and adults motivated and equipped to learn, adapt and flourish in a fast-evolving world. To get there, education – learning – must become everyone’s business.
We know learning does not begin and end at a school or a college gate. The factors influencing learning include; the attributes and personality of the individual, family characteristics, peer groups, the communities students belong to, the way schools, business and other institutions operate. We also know that students who experience socio-economic disadvantage, remoteness, or are from an Indigenous family are more likely to disengage with education.
Learning needs are as individual as each and everyone one of us. Which is why the communities that we move within, that touch our lives in so many different ways are powerful when they take an interest in our aspirations, our future and our learning.
We can all make a difference just by valuing, nurturing, supporting and inspiring learning in our day to day interactions, across our community. It can start with something as simple as passing the time of day. A conversation… at the school gate, in the car, after work, over dinner, in a tea-break, waiting for the bus. At CCA, we imagine the possibilities, the change in interactions, expectations, aspirations and support if all of us took an interest in education. ‘What did you learn today?’
Start a conversation on learning and make a difference in the life of someone you encounter. Today.