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Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Transforming education and training in Australia: challenges and opportunities

When: Wednesday 15th February 2023 @ 9:30am
Duration: 5.5 hours
Cost: Free






A hybrid policy forum

Hosted by the Australian Coalition for Education and Development (ACED), Adult Learning Australia (ALA), Women in Adult and Vocational Education (WAVE), the Jean Monnet Network on Social and Scientific Innovation on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and the European Union Centre of Excellence at RMIT University

WEDNESDAY 15 February 2023
9:30 – 15:00 (AEDT – Melbourne time)



The Policy Forum aims to contribute to the current policy conversations on Transforming Education and Training in Australia from the perspective of employment, education, and skills development that ensures the principles of equity, gender, and sustainability. More specifically:

  • To provide an opportunity to take stock of current global and national policy debates and initiatives, and to help raise awareness of the opportunities linked to transforming the education and training systems in Australia, to address the identified challenges.
  • To engage with the inter-connected themes of lifelong learning, highlighting the often-missed sectors of adult learning, community education, and vocational education and training, with a clear emphasis on equity as a cross-cutting principle.
  • To facilitate the opportunity for civil society networks to come together and become visible as activators in this policy space and release a collective statement on Transforming Education and Training in Australia.

See details here.

Forum program

See here.

A Fair Go for All? Report

Authors: Elaine Butler and Fran Ferrier

See report here.

See Elaine’s presentation slides here.


See statement here.

See media release here.

Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor video


Members of the forum coordinating committee

Some of the in-person participants at the RMIT forum plus our online friends


Forum recording below


Forum speakers

Brendan O'Connor
Minister for Skills and Training
Keynote speaker
Ellen Boeren
Professor of Adult Education at the University of Glasgow
Ellen completed her PhD in Educational Sciences at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and previously worked at the University of Edinburgh.She specialises in adult education and lifelong learning and have considerable experience in working with large international organisations. She undertook a prestigious Thomas J. Alexander fellowship with the OECD, co-edited the Fourth Global Report on Adult Learning and Education with UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning and worked as a consultant for the European Commission. Her publications include a monograph 'Lifelong Learning Participation in a Changing Policy Context: an Interdisciplinary Theory' for which she won the 2017 Cyril O. Houle Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Adult Education Literature. She is currently one of the editors of the high profile journal 'Adult Education Quarterly'
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Craig Robertson
Craig Robertson commenced as CEO of the Victorian Skills Authority in August 2021. The authority is tasked by the Victorian Government to plan for post school education and training to help the economy recover from the pandemic and build up industry skills and support more Victorians into mainstream participation in work, further education and enterprise. Prior to this role Craig was the CEO of TAFE Directors Australia from April 2017, representing TAFEs Australia-wide. In 2015 and 2016 he was Deputy Secretary in the Department of Education and Training in Victoria and prior to that he had over thirty years in various roles in the Commonwealth Government, focused on schools funding, employment services and vocational education and training. Craig holds an Executive Masters in Public Administration and Bachelor of Education (Primary).
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Jenny Dodd
Jenny Dodd has been Chief Executive TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) since August 2021. TDA members consist of all Australian TAFEs and dual sector universities with vocational education and training divisions. Jenny has had an extensive national career in vocational education including as CEO of TasTAFE in Tasmania, Chief Academic Officer and General Manager Gold Coast for TAFE Queensland, and Deputy CEO Education, for the Canberra Institute of Technology. Jenny has also worked for a private training provider and in the community sector focusing on youth unemployment. She began her career in marketing, transitioning into tertiary education after ten years in industry. Jenny holds qualifications in education, human resource management and commerce.
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Jenny Macaffer
Jenny is the CEO of Adult Learning Australia (ALA), a national not-for-profit peak body for adult learning and community education that has been operating for more than 63 years. ALA comprises a diverse membership from across Australia including ACE providers, community colleges, Aboriginal community cooperatives, libraries, local governments, TAFES, universities, and individual adult educators. ALA envisions equitable access to learning for all Australians to support social cohesion and economic prosperity. Jenny has an extensive history of working in the community sector and local government and is passionate about adult and community education (ACE) and how it can transform lives. Her tertiary qualifications include the social sciences, community cultural development, community development, the arts and adult education. Contact Jenny at or 0488030073.
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Jack Beetson
Executive Director LFL
Professor Jack Beetson is a Ngemba man from western New South Wales who has been involved in Indigenous education and Aboriginal affairs for over 30 years. He is Executive Director of The Literacy for Life Foundation, an Aboriginal organisation that coordinates a community-led approach to improving adult literacy. Jack's other education roles have included President of the Federation of Independent Aboriginal Education Providers, Executive Director Tranby Aboriginal College, member of the UTS Council, adjunct Professor at University of New England (UNE), and member of the UNSW Advisory Council, Arts and Social Sciences. In 2018 Jack received an honorary doctorate from UNE and in 2019 he became the first Indigenous Australian to be inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame. He is one of 12 people worldwide to have received a United Nations Unsung Hero Award. In 2022 he received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Award at the UTS Alumni Awards. Jack is Chair of Just Reinvest NSW and sits on the Federal Government’s Foundation Skills Advisory Group and the Referendum Engagement Group. Prof Jack Beetson, photo courtesy of Joy Lai, State Library NSW.
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Sally Thompson
WAVE Board member
Sally Thompson has worked in education policy, research, advocacy and project management in government, Higher Education, TAFE, union and community sectors. Her particular research interests are adult literacy and the intersections between learning, work and gender.
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Elaine Butler
WAVE Ambassador
After working for a decade in industry, Elaine Butler made a radical career change to work in adult education. Since that change, Elaine has worked in all four sectors of education as an academic, educator, researcher, consultant, advocate and activist in the field of gender equity and social inclusion (GESI) for almost five decades. This work has been at local, national, local, regional and international levels, with an enduring focus on education and training, decent work and policy outcomes to enhance the wellbeing of women and girls and marginalised groups. In 2011 Elaine was a member of the Australian Government delegation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW55) that focused on ‘Access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work’. She was Visiting Scholar 2013 – 2014 for the Erasmus Mundus European Masters of Lifelong Learning: Policy & Management (MA LLL) program. In 2016 Elaine completed a research-based assignment for Asian Development Bank (ADB) with an aim to enhance the provision of ‘inclusive’ Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). This was followed in 2018 by a small scale Gender Equality & Social Inclusion civil society engagement project investigating the potential of linking marginalised groups through training to decent work in large infrastructure projects in Indonesia. As a previous National Coordinator and now Ambassador for WAVE, Elaine is a WAVE representative on Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE), Women’s Major Group (WMG), Australian Coalition for Education and Development (ACED) and Equality Rights Alliance (ERA). She participates in advocacy relating to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), having attended UNESCO Asia Pacific Meeting on Education (APMED) 4 2018 meeting in Bangkok that focused on SDG 4 targets 4.3 & 4.4 – inclusive TVET. She has been an active participant in the HLPF review of SDGs 4 & 5 through UNESCO (APCREM 1 & 11), the UN’s Transforming Education Summit (TES) and now Australia’s Jobs & Skills Summit activities. More recently she has researched and co-authored with Fran Ferrier an overview of equity in the Australian VET system for NCVER’s VET Knowledge Bank Landmark Document series: A fair go for all? Equity Frameworks and landmark documents in Australian Vocational Education and Training (2023). In 2021 she was recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia for her ‘significant service to women, to vocational education, and to gender equity’.
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Bruce Wilson
Bruce Wilson is Director of the European Union Centre of Excellence at RMIT. In this role, he provides insights to and leads research and debate on EU-Australian relations, encouraging mobility for staff and students, and for building partnerships between Australian universities and organisations and their European counterparts. For the last five years, he has contributed as a Co-Chief Investigator to the Latrobe Valley Authority’s implementation of Smart Specialisation in Gippsland and is Coordinator of the Australasian participation in the EU’s International Urban and Regional Cooperation project, 2021-23. He also leads Jean Monnet Networks on social and scientific innovation and the EU’s engagement with the SDGs in Asia Pacific, a partnership project that was recognised recently as an outstanding global example of the role of universities in implementation of SDG 17. He was a founding Co-Director of Pascal (Place, Social Capital and Learning) International Observatory and a member of the Advisory Board and Committee of the Hume Global Learning Village. He is currently an active member of the Australian Coalition for Education and Development.
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Jose Roberto Guevara
Associate Professor of International Development at RMIT University
Jose Roberto ‘Robbie’ Guevara is an adult, community and popular educator with expertise in education for sustainable development and global citizenship. He is the President of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) and a Board Member for Asia-Pacific of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE). He is Associate Professor of International Development at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. In 2016 Robbie was awarded a CONFINTEA Research Scholarship to conduct research on adult education and resilience. Robbie was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in October 2012 for his contribution to adult learning in Asia-Pacific.
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Kit McMahon
WAVE National Convenor
Kit McMahon is the new WAVE National Convenor. She is the CEO of Women’s Health in the South East (WHISE) – a Women’s Health Service in Southern Metropolitan Melbourne that, through primary prevention, health promotion and gender equity improves health and of women. Before her role at WHISE, she was Chief Operating Office for Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET). She has implemented gender equality plans in TAFE, local government, tourism and skills policy. She has over 20 years of experience in not for profits and background in skills and training policy. Prior to joining Women’s Health in the South East as CEO, Kit was CEO and Company Secretary of Girl Guides Australia, Chief Operating Officer of the Australian Council of Private Education and Training (ACPET) and General Manager and 2IC of the Industry Skills Council, Service Skills Australia. She has also been Chair and Director of Gender Equity Victoria, and now is Deputy Chair of Volunteering Australia Deputy Chair for Tradeswomen Australia and Chair of The Women’s Spirit Project. Proudly the daughter of two feminists from south western rural Victoria, Kit has consistently and passionately advocated for gender equality, empowering women and girls. A strong believer in the importance of collaboration and partnerships, Kit has championed on the value of embracing diversity and tolerance in our communities, workplaces, education institutions and governments.
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