December 2020 | VALBEC | Web version


1. From the President


And that’s a wrap!…Farewell 2020!

I am looking forward to seeing how 2021 unfolds and what surprises will be in store for us.

The VALBEC committee is already planning some workshops and the annual conference for 2021. We have decided to bring our 2020 Conference Keynote, Tori Wilson, down from Queensland to present a workshop in term 1 – watch this space! Running workshops virtually has meant that we have all learnt a raft of new skills, but also, our workshops have been accessed by a wider range of people than if they were face to face – so that’s a bonus!

Our conference was hugely successful – I say that through my biased lens! We encountered a few hitches…but it was our first totally online conference, and we were able to offer a wide range of diverse topics and make the conference as accessible as possible from a financial perspective.

Please get in touch with us if you have ideas for future conference topics – we aim to please 🙂

So, a fond farewell to 2020, to our committee, members and friends of VALBEC, to our supporters – ACFE, the ACFE Board and Chair, Dept of Ed, the Minister, the Hon Gail Tierney, to all our presenters throughout the year – international, interstate and domestic, to the Fine Print editor and editorial group, Adult Learning Australia, the Reading Writing Hotline, VicTesol, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria, ACEVic, basically everyone in the field – thank you for holding each other up this year! So glad we are a part of it.

Linno Rhodes
VALBEC President

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2. Committee Contributions

2020: The UN Year of Plant Health – Pam Mahlis

‘Tis the season to be holly!

My favourite time of the year is Christmas, and after such a year that we all have had I am looking forward to spending Christmas with family and friends.

Decorating for Christmas has to be one of my favorite aspects of the festive season. Like every other year, I decorate my house with plants commonly associated with this time of the year, however they are store bought as in the past I have not had any luck when I have planted holly, Christmas Lilly and various others.

I hope to be able to grow the colours of the festive season in my own backyard and hopefully grow them in time for next Christmas. The below website provides some tips on growing Christmas plants.

You can use such plants to create beautiful Christmas wreaths, stunning table centre pieces and even a floral advent calendar.

Attached are two websites with some great ideas for decorating.

Happy holidays and happy decorating.

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3. VALBEC 2020: All Comers Welcome

Conference Round Up

Organising a conference in 2020 presented a range of new challenges as we were rarely able to meet face to face, we had not the expertise in running an online conference and getting potential sponsors to respond to emails and phone calls was difficult.

On a positive note, VALBEC Committee members learnt a lot and gained new skills. The Conference enabled presenters to practice new skills in the online environment and attracted many interesting presentations, including transformational ideas, drama in online classes, lifting barriers of shame, indigenous storytimes, how to access ISSI scholarships, project-based learning, making way for learners, writing for Fine Print, digital lessons for low literacy EAL learners, Union matters, neuroscience, voice, trauma-informed teaching, LN for VET, self-care and compassion, guided tours from Italy, and motivating students. What an interesting array of topics on top of the keynotes and introduction mentioned by Linno in her President’s Report above.

If you registered for the conference, you still have until December 16 to catch up on any you missed.

Look out VALBEC Conference 2021!

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4. Upcoming PD

Although you might be PDed out by now and looking forward to a well earned break, here are some fun, and fundamental, PDs to see you through to next year…

Libraries for literacy

Your local library has many PD resources available, for Victorians everywhere, to inspire literacy and numeracy development.  Yarra Libraries, for instance, has a wide range of online activities for students and teachers related to literacy – especially digital literacy. Check out Yarra Libraries’ events here – Boredom Busters, Digital Coaching and Resume Rescue are a few. You may like to take a look at this inspiring PD video series, Journaling through uncertain times.

Neighbourhood House Victoria: 2020 in Review – 2021 in Focus

By popular demand, Neighbourhood House Victoria has got Danielle Jacobs back to host a “wrapping up 2020” workshop on Tuesday 15 December. Danielle hosted a couple of wellbeing sessions for NHV back in September and her engaging presenting style proved very popular with all who attended.

The goal of the session is to make meaning of 2020 and focus on positives for 2021 by:

  • reflecting on obstacles you’ve overcome this year
  • identifying your wins and newfound strengths
  • recognising your ability to adapt throughout the year
  • implementing some strategies that you know support your wellbeing

This session is being run in partnership with Drake International. Register.

NHV session on Maintaining a COVID-Safe environment

If you missed their session with Professor John Catford and DHHS’ Steve Clancy, many questions about operating safely during this current phase of the roadmap were answered. Watch the recording.

Springboard: Connecting teachers with Victorian parliamentary education

Now is the right time to help students find ways to connect and learn about the Victorian political system and have their voice heard by MPs. Here’s a sneak preview of next year’s offerings…

2021 will see the launch of two exciting new flagship resources. The first, ‘Change Makers’, will present amazing stories of political and social activism and the push for self-determination led by Aboriginal people. These stories have been compiled by Aboriginal Elder and Educator Dr. Lois Peeler AM, with educational tasks developed by teaching staff at Worawa Aboriginal College.

The resource will be adaptable to fulfil a range of curriculum areas including Civics and Citizenship, History, the cross-curriculum priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, and the general capabilities of Ethical and Intercultural understandings. It will also link to many aspects of the VCAL learning outcomes, including the Personal Development Skills.


Professional Learning further afield: Aotearoa

Check out what our cousins in New Zealand are doing for Professional Learning in 2021! Could a national approach to professional learning work for Australia?

Professional Learning: A fellow practitioner’s journey

Linda Are talks to ACAL about her40-year career in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education

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5. Resources

Developing Critical Numeracy Across the Curriculum

This website aims to help teachers develop teaching and learning strategies to build students’ critical numeracy – their ability to think discerningly about the way mathematical concepts are used in everyday contexts such as the news.


This site includes resource lists to help you find good resources for teaching encoding and decoding skills, many of which also target vocabulary, fluency and comprehension, plus:


Online resources at your local library

Have you heard of Cloud Library and Borrow Box? These are audio book publishers’ digital content of thousands of high quality eBooks and eAudiobooks provided free to library members. Find them on your library website (eg. this is the link to Darebin Library’s eBook resources) or contact your library to find out how you can access these resources.

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6. VALBEC Membership

Join or renew online.

If you join in November, December or January pay full membership and get bonus time. Renewal falls due in February one full year later.
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.

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7. Fine Print


Fine Print is seeking contributions from all corners of the adult literacy and numeracy community (including learners) for our 2021 journals. Have a look at the slides from our workshop at the VALBEC 2020 conference to get an idea of what we’re on about: and email Deryn Mansell at to start a conversation.

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8. Numeracy News This site has some useful links for adults including printable worksheets, interactive sites and some reports and professional learning. is an interesting article on teaching mathematics in schools. I think that what is said is also relevant to adult education. Hopefully it gets you thinking about what numeracy teaching is and could be.

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9. Unions

Australian Education Union


National Tertiary Education Union


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10. Other News

Teaching in Isolation – an ACAL study (In case you missed this in the ACAL Newsletter)

The purpose of this study was for the Australian Council of Adult Literacy (ACAL) to learn what it was like teaching adult literacy and numeracy using one or more online platforms during the recent COVID-19 isolation period.

52 practitioners participated in the survey and their responses were collated and are discussed briefly in this document. Report link

Digital Literacy Skills Framework – Department Update

Foundation Skills for Your Future Program, Department of Education, Skills and Employment (Another item from ACAL)

In late 2019 the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (The Department) commissioned Escalier McLean consulting to develop the Digital Literacy Skills Framework (Framework) to support the Foundation Skills for Your Future Program (the Program), which commenced in May of this year. The Honourable Steven Joyce acknowledged the importance of digital literacy skills in the 2019 report Expert Review of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training System.

The inclusion of digital literacy within the Program reinforces the concept that digital literacy is part of an integral suite of core skills that are fundamental for individuals to be able to participate in society and work.

The Framework has been developed with reference to the Australian Government Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework and Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF). It uses the same terminology and structure of the ACSF and has been added as the sixth core skill to provide a coherent approach for the identification and development of core digital skills through shared language and concepts, while also enabling benchmarking, monitoring and reporting.

The Framework:

  • Mirrors the layout of the ACSF;
  • Combines performance variables of pre-level A & B to Level 3 in the Digital Performance Variable Grid, and demonstrates the support required at each level to mirror the ACSF;
  • Cross references features for each performance indicator from the Core Skills Framework and for consistency mirrors the performance features of the ACSF.

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