ALCN Helps to Grow Learning Communities

Smart City Forum 2020

The Australian Learning Communities Network Inc (ALCN) is a national network of leading-edge practitioners building sustainable communities using learning as the key element.


Ripples February Newsletter 2024

The ALCN Ripples Newsletter for February 2024 features dates for our online learning forums, and the Brimbank Writers and Readers Festival (Victoria), as well as a summary of the City of Ballarat’s lifelong learning profile (Victoria) and the City of Port Adelaide Enfield Libraries 2023 Impact project. There is also a call for papers for PASCAL International Observatories conference in Taipei, due 4 March.

Feedback and contributions for the next edition of the newsletter is welcome.

The February 2024 newsletter is here with past issues available here.

ALCN Annual Report 2022_2023

This Annual Report summarises the work of the Australian Learning Communities Network (ALCN Inc.) and our place-based learning communities and cities. Also attached is a quick snapshot presentation by Associate Professor Jose Roberto (Robbie) Guevara, President of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), who reflected on how the work of the network members aligned with the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities and the Marrakech Framework for Action in Adult Education and Learning (ALE).

Download the ALCN Annual Report here: ALCN_Annual report_2023

Download the Visual Snapshots of ALCN members here: GUEVARA Snapshots May 2023 ALCN AGM

Notice of AGM

This year’s AGM will be held on Tuesday 28 May 1.30 – 2.00 pm followed by professional development 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

The PD is a dynamic leadership development session From Self-Discovery to Community Impact – Unveiling the Drivers to Personal Fulfillment (2.00 pm – 3.00 pm), is aimed at our learning practitioners and led by Martin Probst, CEO Chief Education Officer at PROfound leadership

Register for the AGM and PD here

Friday Forums 

Our Friday Forums provide a community of practice for our leading learning community practitioners to discuss and share resources about topics of interest.

ALCN Learning Forums

Our Learning Forums (formerly Friday Forums) provide a community of practice for our leading learning community practitioners to discuss and share resources about topics of interest.

ALCN Learning Forum Reports

Wollongong – a Learning City Journey – the challenge of picking up a project mid-stream (Friday 23 February 2024)

Dianne Hillier is the Project Leader for Wollongong Council’s Learning City project, having started in mid-2023.

In this insightful presentation, Dianne shared her journey of taking the Learning City project mid-stream and having to understand UNESCO criteria, the workings of a large Council, and the challenges of clarifying the needs of a diverse region.

Dianne’s presentation started by emphasizing the city’s efforts to empower and connect its people as lifelong learners, acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land and highlighting the Dharawal culture and heritage. Dianne also shared outlines of Wollongong’s vision, goals, and Community Strategic Plan (CSP), focusing on areas such as environmental sustainability, economic development, cultural enrichment, social inclusion, and infrastructure enhancement.

A copy of Diane’s presentation is here.


Report on Governance Framework for Partnerships Learning Forum

Thursday 21 March, 2024
The topic of governance in partnerships within learning communities, was discussed in the Australian Learning Communities Network (ALCN)’s Learning Forum of 21 March 2024. The forum explored the foundational principles of good governance, featuring insights from esteemed speakers Dr. Leone Wheeler and Ms. Diane Tabbagh and chaired by Dr. Jenny Thompson.

Leone provided a comprehensive overview of good governance principles, drawing from both literature and her extensive professional and practical experience. She emphasised the significance of governance within the context of learning partnerships, emphasising the importance of transparent decision-making, collaborative networks, and inclusive participation in shaping successful learning partnerships. Examples from her extensive work, including the Whittlesea Youth Commitment project were highlighted.

Diane shared valuable insights from Wyndham’s experiences, showcasing the adaptability of governance structures within their learning community strategies. She discussed the evolution of governance frameworks and the challenges and benefits of collaboration in sustaining long-term learning initiatives.

Jenny, serving as the forum’s chair, provided insightful and thoughtful reflections on the key themes discussed, emphasising the significance of clear governance models and sustained partnerships in achieving the goals of learning communities. Jenny’s synthesis of the discussions further underscored the importance of clear governance models, sustained partnerships, and inclusive practices in achieving the goals of learning communities. Flexibility, inclusivity, and ongoing collaboration in navigating the complex landscape of governance within learning contexts is essential.

The forum concluded with engaging discussions on the future of governance structures within learning communities, highlighting the need for ongoing collaboration, adaptability, and strategic alignment with community needs.

Resources from the Seminar:

The video recording of the ALCN Learning Forum on Governance Frameworks for Partnerships is now available on the Wyndham Learning City Resources page (scroll down to the Australian Learning Cities Network accordion) or direct link on YouTube here.


Report on Friday Forum 8 December 2023 Lifelong Learning at the City of Ballarat and “Pearls of Wisdom” Program at the City of Melton

Joanne Lockwood, Coordinator Ballarat Library and Learning led a discussion about lifelong learning at the City of Ballarat – the current situation and future directions. Her background paper and presentation are attached.

Silvia Velez, Lifelong Learning Officer from Melton City Council shared her recent experiences in community engagement projects, particularly the “Pearls of Wisdom” pilot project in Melton during Seniors Month. The presentation is below.

City of Ballarat Lifelong Learning Background paper Ballarat Profile for ALCN

Lifelong Learning at the City of Ballarat presentation Ballarat Learning Profile 2023

Seniors Month at Melton Libraries Seniors Month.PDF


Report on Friday Forum – Lifelong Learning for Life and Work

The following presentations were made:

  1. Advantages of extending the Learning City Approach into other areas of Local Government and beyond – George Osborne, Manager Economic Development, Hume City Council.
  2. Learning and/or earning: Tensions between learning for the economic sphere (jobs) and learning for well-being/democracy. Maren Klein, Research Fellow, EU Centre of Excellence, RMIT University.

A summary of the Forum and a copy of the presentation are available.

Paper on Learning Cities and Libraries

ALCN supported Lara Pugh and Diane Tabbagh (on behalf of co-author Jac Gomez-Torres) to present online this excellent paper about Libraries and Learning Cities. Exploring varying roles of engagement across the globe at the 16th PASCAL International Observatory Conference. 2022, Tampere University: Tampere, Finland.

‘Libraries and Learning Cities’ explores the varying and vital roles that libraries play in learning regions, cities, communities and towns; it also showcases the ways public libraires met the learning needs and interests of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and are now futureproofing them for future crises through lifelong learning.

Read more here

Authors: Lara Pugh and Jac Gomez-Torrez.
The case study contributors: Danielle Marie, Bernie Hawke, Marjukka Peltonen and Diane Tabbagh
To find out more please contact Lara Pugh or Jac Gomez-Torrez via Linkedin


Enable Social Enterprises – Renew Tech for Good Initiative

Hume Learning Community

Written by Julie Mckay, Founder and Director, Enable Australia

Since 2015, Enable have supported hundreds of people from disadvantaged backgrounds to connect with community, environment, and improve their prospects of employment through innovative work and learning programs.

Enable operate commercially in the Computer decommissioning and recycling, warehousing, fulfilment and storage and Online Retailing sectors with 100% of the profits from trade re-invested to operate and support a total of nine (9) work and learning stations to support participants with skill-building, confidence, and career decision-making.

Read More..

Feature Paper

Why do you want this job? Transferring learning, transforming learning and lifelong learning


By Dr Donna Goldie, Townsville City Council


As part of a recruitment process for a position, candidates are often asked their reasoning for applying.  While the question may seem straight forward, it is one in which during a recent interview, I felt challenged to provide a succinct response.  In this article I discuss the possible reasons as to why I could not provide a clear answer.  In particularI explore three elements of my work, study and research experiences: transferring learning, transforming learning and lifelong learning.  While my response remains less than concise, these ideas entwine together to form the basis for why I ‘want this job’.

Read more here

Report of the UNESCO International Commission on Futures of Education Paper

Reimagining our Futures Together:
A New Social Contract for Education
Some perspectives and questions for discussion
by Peter Kearns, AM

UNESCO and lifelong learning
This report follows a line of important UNESCO reports on education and lifelong learning. The best known are the Faure report Learning to be (1972) and the Delors report Learning: the treasure within (1996). The Delors report is best known for the four pillars of education – learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to live with others, and learning to be. These broadened the objectives of education in important ways.

Reimagining our Futures Together
The latest, important UNESCO report on education and learning was released in November 2021 after an extensive enquiry over a year and a half by the UNESCO International Commission on the Futures of Education. It followed the earlier global reports with the objective to rethink the role of education at key moments of social transformation (2).

Read more here

What is a Learning Community?

A learning community is one that address its own learning needs through partnership. It uses the strengths of individual, social and institutional relationships across sectors to bring about cultural shifts in the perceptions of the value of learning. Learning communities explicitly use learning to enhance social, economic, cultural and environmental conditions on a sustainable, inclusive basis.

Image: Ballarat Work and Learning Centre receiving certificates for a cooking class.

ALCN acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors and Elders, past and present, of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.