Registration opens


Welcome to Country from Aunty Pam Pederson, a Yorta Yorta elder.

Welcome including The Wanton Shillelaghs


Keynote - 'Meanwhile in a parallel universe' with Lesley Farrell, University of Melbourne


Morning Tea and Networking


Group A - choose from 1 of 4


Group B - choose from 1 of 4


Lunch, displays and networking


Keynote - 'Streams of Potential - What lies beneath' with Brendan Murray, Executive Principal, Parkville College


Group C - choose from 1 of 4


Numeracy resource launch  - Conference close


Drinks and nibbles

Wanton Shillelaghs

Welcome to Country from Aunty Pam Pederson, a Yorta Yorta elder


Opening entertainment


Wanton Shillelaghs

Musical entertainment is part of the long tradition of the VALBEC Conference and this year we'll be welcoming the Wanton Shillelaghs. The Wanton Shillelaghs are united by a love of Celtic music and a shared exile to Melbourne's outer east. Their repertoire combines traditional tunes and songs with the work of some of the greats of modern Celtic music, and the occasional spot of dancing. Performances have been described as a 'refreshing contemporary spin' on traditional tunes, while striving to maintain the rich rhythms and melodies that typify the genre. LINK

Members: Eamon Coughlan (Irish Bouzouki), Jarrad Whitaker (Double Bass), Naomi Matthyssen (Flute & Whistle) Tammy Matthyssen (Violin), Rumesh Gnanaseelan (Bodhrán)

Keynote - Meanwhile in a parallel universe

Prof. Lesley Farrell

Lesley Farrell, University of Melbourne


Meanwhile, in a parallel universe...: the global reconfiguration of education policy and authority Education is in the midst of an epochal shift. Some argue that we are seeing the beginning of the end of education in its ‘welfare’, or public, form. Education services are being acquired as private assets. Education policy is, at least in part, being driven by agendas set by global professional service firms. Education assessment, at least in part, is being shaped by global assessment regimes. Education curriculum, at least in part, is developed and delivered in partnership with global corporations. In this presentation I explore some of these phenomena and raise some questions about what they mean for adult literacy education, and educators, now and in the future.

Lesley Farrell is currently Professor of Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. She has also worked at UTS, Monash and Deakin universities. Her research is concerned with ways people and organizations mobilize literate practice to make and use knowledge at work in global, knowledge-based, technologically mediated economies, what the social, cultural and political implications are, and the roles of formal and informal education in these processes. She has authored and edited four books and numerous articles and book chapters on these issues including ‘Making Knowledge Common: Literacy and knowledge at work’ (2006, Peter Lang) and ‘Educating the Global Workforce: Knowledge, Knowledge work and Knowledge Workers’: 2007 Routledge). She was a founding editor of Open Letter, the precursor to ‘Literacy and Numeracy’.

A1 Unpacking the professional identities of LLN teachers

Julianne Krusche, Federation University

Flagstaff 1

This presentation will explore the emerging themes that have been brought to light around professional identity from the perceptions of the LLN teachers working in Victorian VET institutes. This is part of a PhD research study where teachers/coordinators have participated in a semi-structured interview and asked a series of open-ended questions about: How do teachers describe their professional roles and identities? What policies and practices influence their rot es and has this changed over time? Has their professional identity changed over time? What does it feet like to work as an LLN teacher in current times? What do teachers need, if anything to do their job better?

Julianne has worked in teaching, coordinating and management roles. She is currently employed by Federation University as the Associate Director of Federation College which entails overseeing the delivery of preparatory and embedded Foundation programs across a range of campuses and delivery locations. In addition Julianne is currently a PhD candidate working on a thesis titled 'Unpacking the professional identities of LLN teachers in Victorian VET institutes’.

A2 Energy-Did you know? A Teaching Resource

Meg Cotter, Yarraville Community Centre; Karl Barrett from CUAC-Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre

Flagstaff 2

Do you know how smart meters work? How much you are paying for electricity? How to change retailers? What is flexible pricing? If you have answered ‘no’ to any of these, it is not surprising. Things have changed a lot in the last 10 years. But just imagine how our LLN students must feel when faced with these options and decisions. With funds made available through the State government’s Energy Information Fund (EIF), this resource has been created for teachers teaching LLN to adults at ACSF level 1-3. This resource covers a range of topics that will encourage the conversation around energy efficiency, consumer rights, electrical safety, reading bills, smart meters and flexible pricing. Come and hear about the resource, as well as learn about easy to use online calculators from a CUAC representative and other online resources for this important subject.

Meg Cotter has worked in adult education LLN settings for 20 years and at Yarraville Community Centre for the last 7 years. In that time she has worked with a number of government organisations that wish to engage with CALD communities about important information on services, laws, rights and health. Meg believes the LLN teacher is well placed to deliver this type of information in a meaningful way that hopefully has an empowering effect in their lives. CUAC-The Consumer Utilities and Advocacy Centre is a specialist consumer organisation established in 2002 to represent Victorian energy and water consumers in policy and regulatory processes. It is Australia’s only consumer organisation focused specifically on the energy and water sectors. EIF- The objective of the EIF is to educate and empower groups that may not be reached by mainstream information campaigns, to enable them to make informed decisions about electricity.

A3 Mr. Bean comes to the EAL classroom - engage adult EAL learners through the humour of popular culture

Natalie Nawrocki and Peter Doran, Djerriwarrh Community & Education Services; Roopa Krish, Community West

Wine Tasting Room

EAL educators have incorporated ‘Mr. Bean’ in teaching adults for years. Why? because it works! Students respond well and become engaged in learning. Discover how three teachers use Mr. Bean episodes to teach a range of ACSF macro skills including learning, speaking, listening, writing and reading, as well as incorporating activities using an interactive smart board.

Natalie Nawrocki has worked as an LLN teacher in the adult education sector with 18 years experience teaching EAL and literacy. Currently she works at Djerriwarrh Community & Education Services as an EAL teacher and assessor in the SEE program. Roopa works at Community West as an EAL trainer and assessor. She has 7 years of LLN teaching experience in both the SEE and HESG programs at Community West. Currently she is working in the HESG program. Peter Doran has worked as an LLN teacher since 2006 and is currently a SEE teacher, assessor and team leader at Djerriwarrh Community & Education Services. Peter is passionate about incorporating IT in adult teaching.

A4 Ideas for reluctant writers

Lee Kindler and Jan Hagston, Multifangled


Many adult and youth literacy students are reluctant to write, particularly in a class setting. The workshop will introduce activities that tap into student’s creativity and interest in social media and use it as a launching point for further exploration into the world of words and writing. Participants will have the opportunity to sample a number of activities that are fun, easy to implement, demystify the writing process and provide a successful and positive writing experience. The activities include those that use social media as well as ones that use nothing more than paper and pen.

Lee Kindler is an experienced educator having worked in schools, TAFE and a range of private and public organisations. His experience includes developing print, video and multimedia teaching and learning resources and curriculum materials for primary, secondary and vocational education. He has recently developed a resource, ‘10 Radical ideas for reluctant writers’, aimed at youth and adults who are reluctant to express themselves in writing. Jan Hagston has worked in adult literacy for more years than she cares to remember. She and Lee have collaborated on a range of projects and resources and has had input into his recent publication, 10 Radical ideas for reluctant writers.

B1 Greater ‘Strength with Numeracy’ - new Decimal and Measurement activities

Beth Marr, Numeracy consultant

Flagstaff 1

This hands-on workshop will allow teachers to participate in new activities recently added to the VALBEC on-line adult numeracy resource: ‘Building Strength with Numeracy’. The decimal activities are designed to encourage exploration of the meaning as well as application of decimal numbers in the adult world, especially as they relate to money and measurement. The section promotes an estimation approach of making sense of calculations, as opposed to rote learned rules for calculating with decimal quantities. There is also an emphasis on reading measurement scales involving decimal quantities and calculator use with money and decimals. The measurement section investigates relationships between units in the metric system through discussion activities linking learners’ everyday experience and the language of measurement and the metric prefixes. Other activities engender a ‘sense of measurement’ with a variety of practical, fun activities involving estimation and practical measurement.

Beth Marr has worked extensive with adult numeracy teachers and learners all over Australia, and more recently in Timor-Leste, to design and deliver interactive professional development sessions and produce activity based resources for teachers. These resource materials include ‘Mathematics: A new beginning’, ‘Strength in Numbers’, ‘Breaking the Maths Barrier’ and ‘Numeracy on the Line’. Many of the most popular activities from these resources have recently been updated and supplemented in VALBEC’s online teaching resource ‘Building Strength with Numeracy’. LINK

B2 Listening to learners: Not such a quaint idea

Barry Golding, Federation University Australia


A market-driven system selling anything would be very wise to listen to its customers. If VET and ACE are indeed market-driven, is there any evidence that anyone is listening to the learners? Barry Golding explores what we know about ‘learner voice’ in Australia. He offers some simple, respectful and very effective ways of hearing. These, he suggests, are more appropriate to the diverse contexts and learners beyond the market model that are characteristic of contemporary ‘lifelong and lifewide learning’.

Barry Golding is an Adjunct Professor of Education in the Faculty of Education and Arts, Federation University Australia, Ballarat. Barry has extensive research experience in all adult learning sectors. In the past 25 years his research has focused mainly on equity and access in adult and community education, with a recent emphasis on learning experienced by men informally through participation in community organisations. He has completed many national and international studies of men’s learning and wellbeing through community participation including about men’s sheds. Barry is honorary Patron of the Australian Men’s Sheds Association and a Board Member of Adult Learning Australia.

B3 Success Stories in Applied Learning

Karen Dymke, Thoughtful Works

Flagstaff 2

‘I’m really proud of my transformation’ - ‘Success Stories’ was a project that aimed to profile how applied learning programs have an important place in education. A case study research project, supported by a photographic exhibition of each interviewed student, illustrated the research conducted whose primary objective was to determine common factors that led to Applied Learning pathways participants effectively advancing educationally or occupationally. Gateway LLEN, working with key stakeholders, identified the growing need to address significant gaps in opportunities for non- academic learners and those who are already disengaged, or were at risk of disengagement, to access relevant educational programs. The project highlighted how the Victorian Certificate of Education and the CGEA, create learning opportunities and vocational pathways for the 21st Century.

Karen Dymke has been an teacher, trainer, educational consultant and edupreneur working in schools and organizations for over twenty years. Her passions and expertise include applied learning, engaging learners, developing real and relevant curriculum and interactive teacher education. Karen has worked as teacher educator for many years across the State, and extensively in community education. She free-lances as a teaching and learning educator, coach and consultant and currently lectures at Latrobe University in Alternative Education. She thinks it's fun when you learn!

B4 Meeting Double Assessment Requirements in the Skills for Education and Employment Program

Anh Le and Sandya Nugapitiya, Skillsplus

Level 3 Theatre

Training and assessment in the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program require the compliance to both the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) for federal government’s funding and an accredited curriculum for state training registration. This double compliance requirement has been reinforced in the SEE through independent verifications and Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) audits. From a theoretical point of view, the SEE training and assessment are obligated to two different sets of language, literacy and numeracy constructs. This presentation highlights difficulties with training program design and assessment tool development in the SEE program and presents some ‘hand-on’ techniques for coverage of both the ACSF and the Certificates of General Education for Adults (CGEA). Participants are invited to share experience, opinions and ideas and participate in moderation of assessment tasks against the ACSF and the CGEA.

Anh Le has been teaching language literacy and numeracy (LLN) to Australian adult learners for eight years. She has conducted her D.Ed. research on the assessment application of the ACSF in the SEE program at Melbourne University. Anh has been developing assessment task banks and providing assessment training to Skillsplus SEE teachers. She is interested in adult LLN education research, training and assessment program design, resource and professional development. Sandya Nugapitiya is the manager of Skills for Education and Employment Program (SEE) in Skillsplus. She has been teaching language, literacy and numeracy to Australian adult learners for 20 years. She has experience leading Skillsplus SEE team through DIISRTE desktop monitoring, Independent Verifications and VRQA audits. Sandya is involved in assessment task designing and moderation and mentoring new teachers on curricula and the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).

Keynote - 'Streams of Potential - What lies beneath' - An exploration of Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how its application to classroom practice, pedagogy, curriculum development, inclusion and growth is potentially the greatest lever of transformative influence in education.

Brendan Murray, Parkville College

Brendan Murray, Executive Principal, Parkville College


See 'School behind bars'

There is an enormous amount of research conducted into how best to improve student outcomes, how best to progress teacher performance, how to cultivate a school improvement culture and how to take such initiatives to scale and ultimately improve the education system.

In this presentation, Brendan will discuss the importance of an accepted principle, such as inclusion, combined with the whole-hearted aspiration of adhering to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as the essential foundation for student, teacher, school and system-wide success. In particular, Brendan will speak to his experience at Parkville College, a Victorian Government School for children and young people detained within secure settings in Victoria to illuminate how such a foundation can allow for education transformation.

Brendan will draw upon theory from John Dewey, Carl Rogers and John Bowlby to establish an argument for secure attachments and positive relationships that allow for transformative education. Further to this, Brendan will then speak to the idea that a therapeutic alliance with a student will enable the teacher to motivate the learner to exceed his or her own expectations of education achievement. This motivating climate will be explored in the context of Professor John Hattie's meta-analyis into what has the greatest positive effect upon student learning, and it is this area where the presentation will tie completely into locating what potential lies beneath, for all humans.

Brendan will try to make the presentation really interesting and worthwhile for the audience too.

Brendan Murray is interested in the concept of educators assisting students to exceed their own expectations on the journey towards realising full development. He is the current executive principal and founder of Parkville College. In 2007 Brendan co-founded The Pavilion School. He has won several awards including the Victorian Education Department's Secondary Teacher of the Year in 2009. He also received the inaugural Australian Government Closing the Gap Award for strengthening partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and for improving the education outcomes for Aboriginal Australians.

C1 Engaging with Industry - Learn Local approaches for workers transitioning from the automotive industry

John Sheen, Wyndham Community & Education Centre

Flagstaff 1

Learn Local organisations who offer LLN programs are well situated to work with industry to improve the LLN skills of their workers. The Australian Skills Industry Council‚’ report ‘No More Excuses’ 2011, reported that around 53 per cent of working age Australians have difficulty with numeracy, and 46 per cent of Australian adults have problems with reading. Government departments such as ACFE have also made Learn Local and Industry partnerships a priority. However in many cases these programs are difficult to get off the ground for a number of reasons. Wyndham CEC has had many employer-educator relationships over the years. Hear about their success stories, strategies and share best practice ideas for engaging with industry. Learn about their latest venture ‘Skills Program for Employees in the Automotive Industry’. A program for workplace training and support for workers seeking to improve their language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills who are transitioning from roles in the automotive industry.

Wyndham CEC offers a range of education and community programs across the western suburbs of Melbourne. Founded over 40 years ago, Wyndham CEC is a leader in supporting people and communities make positive changes for the future. Current programs include; Language, literacy and numeracy training, Digital literacy training, Employment and work skills programs (industry & pre-accredited), Vocational education (VET) including Business Services and Community Services, Skills for Education & Employment program (SEE), Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) and Settlement services for eligible migrants and refugees. Engaging with local industry is a key priority for Wyndham CEC. Employer-education programs that work will benefit employers, employees and the whole community for now and the future.

C2 Literacy learning in Eritrea: exploring multilingual literacies in Australian education contexts

Elizabeth Gunn and Zahra Abdurahman

Flagstaff 2

Following from a presentation at the 2014 ACAL conference about leveraging students’ community language capabilities for engagement with English literacy, we offer delegates the chance to immerse themselves in a different literacy experience; namely that of literacy learning in Eritrea. Eritrean children are exposed to diverse literacies in their home country. When they arrive in Australia they may have proficiency using Ge’ez, Arabic and Roman scripts in home, school and community contexts. Led by Zahra Abdurahman who completed a secondary teaching degree in Eritrea before coming to Australia in 2006, this session gives participants a brief taste of learning Tigrinya, an official languages of Eritrea. After the session, participants can reflect on their reactions to the Tigrinya learning experience and find out more about Eritrean approaches to literacy learning. It is hoped the session will spark further ideas about how teachers can harness students’ multilingual literacy skills for increased engagement in English learning.

Elizabeth Gunn is a literacy and numeracy teacher in Melbourne. Zahra Abdurahman is a community development worker with the African community in Melbourne.

C3 Are We There Yet?

Christine Tully, Melbourne Polytechnic

Level 3 Theatre

A recent project called ‘Identifying and Supporting Quantitative Skills of 21st Century Workers’ has identified the gap between the mathematics taught in schools and that required by the workplace. In Foundation areas, I believe that we address the mathematical needs of the workplace well, but what more can we, as numeracy teachers, do to prepare our students to move into mainstream VET courses and the workplace? There are a number of maths skills that are common across a range of VET courses that students need but often have not seen before or have not understood. This means they are behind even before they engage in the VET course. This workshop is for numeracy deliverers and will look at the some of these common gaps in maths and numeracy and explore how to cover them in a foundation course. This will be a hands-on workshop that will provide participants some ideas on how to introduce students to concepts and skills that they could need for further study or for everyday use. It will provide participants with some concepts and delivery materials to use in class. The workshop will showcase a variety of delivery methods in order to cover different learning styles. It will also give participants an opportunity to share their experiences and any delivery that has been successful for them as well as issues that they may have encountered.

Chris Tully has been working as a numeracy teacher for the past 24 years. prior to that she worked as a secondary Maths teacher. She has delivered numeracy in a variety of context and places including to VCE, indigenous programs, EAL students, in foundation courses and in workplaces. Recently she has provided numeracy support for VET areas which has given her an insight to how numeracy is delivered in the VET areas and where students struggle.

C4 Incorporating employability skills into the SEE program

Freya Merrick dos Santos, Yarraville Community Centre


Freya Merrick dos-Santos won the Australian Training Award - Excellence in Language Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award in 2014. Freya has designed and taught an innovative and successful program incorporating Employment Skills and Community Engagement into the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program at Yarraville Community Centre for the past 4 years. This program engages students through practical workshops on employability skills, authentic experiences in workplace and local community contexts and individual support in their job or vocational course searches. Freya has demonstrated professionalism and leadership in LLN as a mentor for other LLN teachers at the site and run professional development workshops on teaching employability skills for LLN clients. Come and explore practical ways to incorporate employability skills and community engagement into Language, Literacy and Numeracy teaching and assessment.

Freya Merrick dos Santos’ career has focused on assisting migrants, refugees and internally displaced people. She is passionate and committed to providing students with opportunities to build their capacity and skills to fully participate in their community. Freya has done considerable work in Timor-Leste in Community Education and capacity building. She has applied this experience to her work at Yarraville Community Centre delivering a Language, Literacy and Numeracy program to unemployed CALD clients.