Charles Darwin University
Summary | Aim | Objectives and outputs |
Social capital |
Northern Australia’s tropical savannas represent a large
proportion of rural and remote Australia with approximately 200
urban centres and localities (Australian Bureau of Statistics
2002a) and numerous other small, isolated communities scattered
throughout the region.
There is a significant body of research on community capacity,
sustainability and development, but—possibly because of a
narrow definition of VET—there is only a relatively small
body of research available on the links between VET and these
issues (e.g. CRLRA 2001a, 2001b, 2001c). The potential for VET to
benefit the various social, ecological, industrial and cultural
interests of this region have been largely—with a few
exceptions (Arnott 1997, 2000; Arnott & Benson
While the value of adult and community education (ACE) is often
reported in terms of individual and community benefit, including
development of social capital (Birch et al 2003, Falk et
The value of vocational education and training is most often
measured in terms of employment outcomes or individual perceptions
of quality (NCVER 2002a, 2002b; Cully et al 2000).
However, the value of VET includes a range of social,
environmental, health, educational and individual outcomes that can
be measured by indicators of wellbeing. These outcomes could be
just as significant—particularly for rural and remote
communities (ABS 2001c; CRLRA 2001b; OECD 1973, 1982, 2001). It
could also be argued that because of the emphasis on enterprises
and industry, VET is a tool that is under-utilised for the broader
goals of communities and regions.
The flexibility of VET delivery means that training packages can
be adapted for use in a broad range of contexts without the
requirements of large amounts of physical infrastructure or
VET as a tool for enhancing social wellbeing can therefore be
seen in the context of social capital (Falk & Kilpatrick
This project aims to determine how vocational education and
training (VET) can be used most effectively as a tool for regional
and remote savanna communities and stakeholders to enhance regional
planning. Regional planning includes sustainable management of
natural resources in conjunction with the economic, social and
cultural needs of a region.
- Review the capacity of the 200 urban centres / localities (ABS
2002a) in the savanna region to act as a vehicle for VET delivery
to meet the goals and objectives of the TS–CRC. The capacity
of the region would be measured in terms of the social, economic
and human resources available.
- Identify education and training gaps (in terms of programs,
locations and resources) across savanna communities and among
savanna stakeholders that provide strategic opportunities for
improved natural resource management practices consistent with
economic, social and cultural needs of the region.
- Determine models of effective education and training delivery
for savanna stakeholders that build community capacity and at the
same time have a direct impact on the management of the
region’s resources, particularly as they relate to pastoral,
Indigenous, conservation, tourism and mining interests.
- Evaluate the potential of partnerships in facilitating
effective delivery strategies.
- Develop and trial strategic learning packages consistent with
the learning needs and arrangements of stakeholders and the
Conservation and Land Management Training Package.
- Assess the effectiveness of learning packages in terms of
TS–CRC strategic directions. The project would establish
benchmarks to determine the success of learning outcomes in meeting
targets for key results areas.
Additionally it is anticipated that a number of other outputs in
the form of papers and reports will be developed through the course
of the project. In particular it is expected that a paper relating
to the capacity of northern Australian communities will be
developed. Other possible outputs include reports and papers,
presented through conferences that effectively disseminate
information and highlight models of effective capacity building,
identified through the research.
The development of social capital in a community is widely
considered to be a key to its sustainability and long-term
socio-economic success (Falk & Guenther 2000, Falk &
Harrison 1998, Woolcock 1998). Many of the case studies in a
10-site review of VET in regional Australia (CRLRA 2001a)
identified that the active presence of VET in a community resulted
in improvements in social identification and cohesion and increased
capacity to contribute to community groups—all indicators of
VET partnerships are developing across Australia to address the
needs of interest groups, communities and individuals (Kearns et al
1996; Kilpatrick, Fulton & Bell 2001, Kilpatrick, Johns,
Mulford, Falk & Prescott 2001).
Recent research into more than 100 VET partnerships around
Australia revealed that rural VET partnerships are particularly
useful for meeting the needs of regional communities (Kilpatrick
& Guenther 2003). It found that the partners themselves largely
determined the outcomes of these partnerships.
The value of strategic VET alliances and partnerships for
effecting change and building the knowledge, skills and capacities
of rural and remote communities cannot be underestimated.