March 2020 | VALBEC | Web version

2020: The UN Year of Plant Health

Watch this video here

I recently spent the weekend away on Tasmania’s Bruny Island in a certified ‘tiny house’. It was an amazing experience. The house is nestled in 99 acres of conservation forest, and just beyond the house in a hidden forest there was a giant sized tree swing for 2 adults, a tree house and a rope bridge. Lots of tiny Tasmanian sized wallabies and roos of different kinds and all sorts of wild and bird life. A few books on offer meant that I found The Nature Fix, By Florence Williams. Williams is a journalist – she followed a bunch of psychologists around who investigated the link between brain, nature and stress / mindfulness. I loved reading it – sadly, or maybe gladly, I didn’t finish it, so I’m waiting for my mail-order copy to arrive. These psychologists found that our brains change just by looking at patterns that ferns make, or by smelling pine trees. It all makes sense.  I know when I have taken adult students out of the classroom and in to nature, there is a different type of learning, a shift into a more connected, communal way of relating and learning. One small neighbourhood house that really pairs learning and the environment is Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre. Take a look at their grounds by flicking through the photos on their home page. Students are all involved with the garden, looking after the chickens and taking classes outdoors. So many opportunities for learning about cultures, language, sharing, responsibilities, and for taking a small corner of land and turning it into a place where  everybody becomes part of a community of learners.

Linno Rhodes, VALBEC President

1. From the President

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH).

We will be including various thoughts, ideas and resources on this theme in each edition of eVALBEC throughout 2020.

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2. Conferences

“All Comers Welcome” 2020 VALBEC Conference – May 15th

  • How often does a colleague tell you about a wonderful student or students who went on to achieve their goals?
  • Have you ever had a class take your well planned session and turn it in something equally wonderful?

This is a great year for celebrating our own and our students’ great skills and potential.

Call for presentations closes March 27th.
Registrations open: April 11th.


Keynote Speaker “All Comers Welcome” 2020 VALBEC Conference – May 15th

Tori Wilson, Lecturer, English Language & Academic Communication, Open Access College, USQ
Tori will speak about student voice – both as a research methodology and a teaching strategy. Voice is central to both trauma-informed principles and teaching (including culturally responsive teaching and critical pedagogy). Tori will be our guest for the day!

For more details about Tori Wilson

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2020 ACAL Conference “A Vision Beyond – Multi-literacies for critical times” 4-5 September 2020

“A Vision Beyond – Multi-literacies for critical times” will be held in Canberra on September 4&5.

ACAL’s 2020 National Conference will place a critical lens on contemporary issues facing the field 20 years on from the launch of the transformational Multiliteracies Framework (Learning by Design). It will seek to respond to topics that continue to pose challenges for teaching and learning.

Check out the ACAL webpage for more details.

Neighbourhood Houses Victoria Conference, March 2020


The World Literacy Summit

The World Literacy Summit will be held in Oxford University in 2020


NCVER ‘No Frills’ Conference, Perth 8-10 July 2020


Women in Vocational Education – WAVE National Forum 2020
22 April, Melbourne

More than just women in hardhats: understanding the wide role of VET for the careers of Australian women.

WAVE National Forum 2020

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3. Resources

ISS Institute Fellowship applications open

The first round for 2020 is now open for applications.
In partnership with the Department of Education and Training, Victoria, we are offering the VET International Practitioner Fellowship. $13,000 will be granted to conduct applied research overseas.

If you work in the VET sector and have an innovative idea and want to drive change to improve the quality of learning in your sector, please send your applications in!

This first round of applications will close on Friday 27th March 2020.

Submit your application here.

Visit ISS website for more details.

Center for the Study of Adult Literacy

Some great resources here. 

Adult Literacy Research Center

Some great resources here.

Adult Community Education staff in the National Tertiary Education Union.


TAFE staff


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4. Special Dates Coming Up

So much information on the web about International Women’s Day.

How do you celebrate this date with your students? We’d love to hear about it.

  • 8 March – International Women’s Day
  • 14 March – Cultural Diversity Week begins (until 22 March)
  • 21 March – National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence
  • 22 March – Harmony Day
  • 31 March – International Transgender Day of Visibility

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5. Professional Development

VALBEC Workshop 25 March – Urban Lyrebirds: Singing in the adult classroom

Join us to learn from Sharon and Carmel, have a lot of fun and use our voices to create lively classes in adult literacy and language!

Wednesday 25th March
Registration from 4:30pm
Workshop: 5pm – 7pm
William Angliss 555 La Trobe St, Melbourne VIC 3000, level 5
Refreshments provided

Details and Register

VALBEC Annual General Meeting (AGM) Including Presentation by Dr Ron Wilson – 22 April

Members and friends of VALBEC are invited to the Annual General Meeting of the Council and a presentation by Dr Ron Wilson “Adult literacy matters in a Corrections environment

Wednesday, April 22, 2020, 6.00pm
Dinner afterwards at own expense
St Georges Restaurant, Melbourne Polytechnic,
77 St Georges Rd Preston

More about the AGM and nominations

ACAL webinar ‘A VOCEDplus primer: focus on adult literacy and numeracy’
Wednesday 25 March, 2020 @ 12:30 PM – 1:15 PM ACDT where it’s being hosted (1:00 PM AEDT but check local times)

This 45 minute ‘invitation only’ webinar will focus on the aspects of VOCEDplus that will support those working in the field of adult literacy/numeracy/foundation skills.

VOCEDplus is NCVER’s free international research database for tertiary education, with extensive coverage of Australian material and a wide range of international information. VOCEDplus also features a variety of ‘value-add’ resources that package information to enable our users to target and access relevant material quickly.

This ACAL webinar will not only cover the most relevant of these resources for our ACAL audience but also demonstrate how to get the best from a VOCEDplus search.

Register for the free webinar.

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6. It’s time to RENEW…VALBEC membership is now due!

The VALBEC Committee has determined that the membership fees for 2020-2021 will be:-

  • Small Organisation – less than 4 EFT staff * $165
  • Institutional membership – base rate $245
  • Institutional membership – multi campus (with 3 copies of Fine Print) $425
  • Individual membership – employed 0.6 and above $105
  • Individual membership – part time/sessional $65
  • Individual membership – students/unemployed $45

* Indicates the number of active full-time equivalent employees (based on aggregated hours worked by all full-time and part-time employees). Please ensure you renew, or apply, for membership under the correct level.

Members receive:

  • Fine Print three times a year – a high quality journal for discussion and debate about good practice, theory and policy issues. Feedback and contributions are actively sought from members about content and issues.
  • eVALBEC – our e-mail communication keeping members informed of professional development activities, general committee activities and more up to date policy changes.
  • Discounts for the Annual Conference and other VALBEC statewide professional development.
  • Issues-based forums.
  • Focus on significant policy issues impacting on the field.
  • Free numeracy resources

Renew now (pay online or get an invoice)

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7. Fine Print – The Big Picture in Math[s]

Fine Print should appear in members’ and subscribers’ letterboxes later this month and it’s a cracking read, even if we do say so ourselves. In this issue, Konstantina Vlahos reports on the ProLiteracy Conference in San Diego, California, that she attended as the recipient of a VALBEC scholarship. One of the workshops that inspired her was led by Dorothea Steinke, an experienced adult educator in the fields of maths and music. Here are some links that Konstantina suggests you investigate to find out more about Dorothea Steinke’s approach to numeracy:

The Big Picture in Math: Four Concepts the Books Need to Teach – watch this video here

Webinar Follow-Up: The Big Picture in Math: Four Concepts the Books Need to Teach,, link for google docs, slides and handouts can be found in comments section:

Using Part-Whole Thinking in Math, Dorothea Steinke

If you have submitted a proposal to present at the VALBEC Conference in May, please also consider adapting your presentation for publication in Fine Print. Please send your ideas to