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Victorian Region - Australia
Workers' Educational Association of Victoria Inc.
Founded in 1903, the Workers' Educational Association (WEA) is a charity and a global movement, providing accessible education for working people through allied organisations in over 65 countries worldwide. WEA came to Australia in 1913, when founder Albert Mansbridge was invited to the country from England by the University of Melbourne. The foundation of the WEA of Australasia was supported by the NSW State Labor Council, 28 trade unions and the NSW Director of Education.
Through curriculum themes of employability, health & wellbeing, community engagement and culture, the WEA gives students the confidence to learn new skills, live healthier lives, engage in society and broaden their horizons. Our courses are created and provided through our volunteer-led branches, often in partnership with local community groups and organisations.
Today WEAs provide learning to over 40 000 learners in Australia and 12 000 in New Zealand. The recently revived Victorian committee of WEA (est. 1913) is currently planning courses for 2015, in cooperation with Wellington WEA and the Victorian Labor College. WEA Victoria is a founding member of Learno — an online version of WEA's Trade Union Postal Education Service (est. 1964).
The WEA creates lasting social change through education, empowering communities to organise for a more democratic, equal and just world. The WEA was instrumental in popularising the concept of the welfare state and full employment, with WEA members going on to pioneer these policies in government.
WEA alumni include former prime ministers John Curtin, Michael Joseph Savage, Sir Walter Nash and Peter Fraser; numerous British cabinet ministers and MPs including Hugh Gaitskell and Arthur Greenwood; and other public figures such as G. D. H. Cole and William Temple.
We continue this work today, with campaigns on issues such as economic justice and workers' rights, equality for women, environmental protection and international solidarity.
Owned and operated by our members
Each WEA is a democratic, member-governed society. Our students lead their own learning: they participate in choosing the content of courses and organising the operation of our campuses.
Our courses aim to serve the needs of ordinary people and their communities. We aim to help our learners improve both their own lives and those of others, by putting people's ideas into practice in the real world. By joining the WEA, you'll support learning that challenges and inspires - education to build a better world.
“A better world - equal, democratic and just; through adult education the WEA challenges and inspires individuals, communities and society.”
— WEA mission statement, adopted July 2012, London
Workers' education provides an accessible, holistic form of lifelong learning, focussed on improving outcomes for individuals and working people as a whole. WEA learning meets the needs of the people where other education providers do not, removing barriers and taking an active role in transforming society for the greater good. We empower learners to take leadership of their communities, to achieve better standards of living and an improved quality of life.
WHAT WE'RE FOR
Raising educational aspirations
Bringing great teaching and learning to local communities
Ensuring there is always an opportunity for adults to return to learning
Developing educational opportunities for the most disadvantaged
Involving students and supporters as members to build an education movement for social purpose
Inspiring students, teachers and members to become active citizens
We deliver our mission by developing partnerships to meet individual and collective needs, using active learning and a student centred approach in which teachers and students work as equals. We constantly strive to adapt our services to meet people’s needs, making full use of technology.
A global commitment
We're part of the international movement for workers' education, educating the wider labour movement. As our international charter states, we're committed to educating for a better world, following these principles:
We put this into practice by:
“Working for a sustainable world, where all people have their basic needs satisfied, can live in dignity in healthy communities, and ensuring the minimum adverse impact on natural systems - now and in the future."
— Millenium statement, NZWEA federation
WE NEED YOUR HELP - Volunteer with WEA
Volunteers are at the heart of the WEA’s activity. As a primarily voluntary organisation, our members' contributions are vital to ensure we can continue to promote and deliver lifelong learning. Their commitment allows the WEA to carry out its charitable mission as a workers' education movement and making a difference in local communities.
All activities enable volunteers to develop their own skills and interests, and can lead to long standing friendships, more active social participation and, for some volunteers, employment.
WEA volunteers were responsible for setting up the hundreds of WEA branches around the world, and continue to help us spread lifelong learning for social change to new communities every year.
A sample of volunteer roles at the WEA
Community Outreach volunteers who promote the value of adult learning, particularly in disadvantaged communities
Class Secretaries and Learner Representatives
Branch members who arrange and promote local courses
Activists who organise campaigns, promotions and fundraisers
Classroom support volunteers
Elected officials governing our branch, district and national bodies