North Melbourne Language & Learning

Project Community Learning Champions: Championing Learning for Engagement and Employment

Amount $200,000 over 3 years

Date 2015

Program Education

This grant was approved under our previous grants policy (Jan 2014 – March 2017)
Building organisational capacity Consolidate the project in North Melbourne and Flemington and extend to the Carlton communities
Extending opportunity Increase participation in local learning and civic engagement opportunities, build tangible and sustainable employment pathways, and provide opportunities to participate in meaningful work
Collaboration and partnership Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre, Brotherhood of St Laurence, City of Melbourne

Image Community Learning Champions outside Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre, Carlton.

Migrant and refugee communities in the inner north suburbs of North Melbourne, Flemington and Carlton experience difficulty in navigating education, training and employment systems. North Melbourne Language & Learning and Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre implemented a place-based model that has been shown to be a highly effective way of developing and supporting lifelong learning, rooted in communities and driven by the energy, passion and commitment of local community champions.

At the heart of the Community Learning Champions (CLCs) approach was the principle of the supported volunteer. It recognised that much of the knowledge and expertise needed to address local issues are found within communities themselves. The CLC program far exceeded anticipated outcomes. It proved to be a very effective model to engage hard-to-reach and disengaged learners from CALD backgrounds.


  • The volunteer CLCs supported their respective communities with entry points to education and training in an environment that is localised, small, easy to access, low on red tape, flexible and responsive.
  • It increased the involvement of Culturally & Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities in planning, designing and delivering courses and activities in their local settings that are tailored, relevant and help to build social networks.
  • The CLC program was a first for Australia and was based on a successful model used in the United Kingdom and adapted to the local context.
  • An external evaluator was engaged from the outset by NMLL to develop an evaluation framework to measure the impacts of the CLC program on participants.


  • The CLC program was successful in increasing people’s knowledge of the employment and training sectors in Victoria as well as providing support and inspiration to others in the community to get more involved and active in their communities.
  • Overall, the program engaged 936 people in a range of activities focused on getting community members more involved in learning, accessing employment opportunities, accessing employment support services and getting more involved and knowledgeable of their community and the systems they need to navigate.
  • Significant outcomes were also experienced by CLC volunteers themselves. The CLC volunteers’ involvement in the CLC program often lead to other learning, employment and civic engagement opportunities.
  • For some CLC volunteers their involvement was transformative, providing them with the confidence, knowledge and tools to pursue their own goals, whether securing employment (including self-employment), enrolling in learning and training courses, or pursuing other volunteer opportunities.
  • As well, the CLC program built organisational capacity for North Melbourne Language and Learning and Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre to better understand and respond to the needs of the local CALD communities the two organisations engaged with.

Updated March 2021.