International and domestic research indicates that around 50% (potentially conservative) of offenders have a learning disorder that has prevented them from achieving within the school system and has created problems for them throughout their lives.
The Centre for Continuing Education achieved funding from the Federal Government to conduct a project that will appropriately screen people who are on parole or a community work order for any diagnosable learning difficulties. The focus on treatment and assisting these participants to manage their learning difficulty will occur within a vocational education and training space, supported by specialists including psychologists and speech pathologists. It is hoped that through these interventions, we can demonstrate the efficacy of this approach in terms of return on investment (e.g. reduction in recidivism), as well as helping participants to achieve sustained and meaningful employment.
The project’s theory of change indicates the relevance of engagement in an evidence-based adult education program that incorporates a collaborative practice approach, combined with mentoring and clinical treatment interventions. However, at the heart of this project will be vocational education and training as the enabler – the confidence and self-esteem builder, the strengths finder.
Through this presentation, Felicity will share their theory of change and program logic for this innovation project. She will also share insights into best practice discovered through her recent International Fellowship to Europe and the UK where she investigated practices and approaches to supporting and engaging learners with conditions such as dyslexia and ADHD within prison environments and vocational education spaces.
Felicity Williams is a marketing and business strategist and has held senior roles in the Victorian vocational education and training sector. She took up the role of CEO of The Centre for Continuing Education based in Wangaratta in north-east Victoria in 2014. Felicity is passionate about the adult community education and training sector because it has the power to change lives.
Over the past five years, Felicity has led the regeneration of The Centre in re-claiming its roots as a provider of adult education programs that are truly accessible for people with significant barriers to accessing education opportunities. Through Felicity’s vision, The Centre now has a Learner Engagement Team at its heart, and is a highly regarded provider of ‘whole-of-person’ strengths-based adult education programs that have proven to be engaging and transformational for vulnerable and hard-to-reach learners. The Centre’s success is embedded in its array of programs that build protective factors for its learners, including, for example, programs that help reduce family dysfunction, empower women affected by domestic violence to become financially empowered.
In 2019, she successfully achieved Federal funding for Finding Strengths, a pilot project in partnership with Victoria’s Department of Justice and Community Safety, Hume Region to work with offenders on community corrections orders and/or parole with learning disorders such as ADHD or dyslexia. Felicity was also the recipient of an international fellowship through the International Specialised Skills Institute to bring back best practice ideas and concepts around engagement of people with learning disorders within a VET environment.