Adult English Classes at Doveton College remove barriers and fast-track success 

In a new way of delivering the Federal Government’s Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) to newly arrived families, the Our Place team has developed the program to be delivered on site at Doveton College during school hours, with childcare provided in the classroom.

Our Place Doveton Partnership Manager Kerrie Russell said bringing the classes to the community, though negotiations with Chisholm Tafe, is driving high attendance and completion rates.

“We know anecdotally that for most of the women sitting in the adult English classes, a huge majority of them would not be attending if they had to do it in the usual way,” Kerrie said.

This in turn means access to other educational opportunities, vocational courses, and employment more quickly, she said.  

Many of the participants are newly arrived Afghani women, who are usually responsible for caring for young children in the home. Access to education is generally more difficult because of these responsibilities.

“This is a new way for Chisholm to deliver their AMEP classes. It is working really well because the families know us and trust us, and they can bring their children and they will be able to graduate. We’ve removed the barriers so they can complete the course.”

Kerrie Russell, Our Place Partnership Manager

English conversation classes run by Our Place and on-site careers counsellors provided by Chisholm TAFE provide extra support for class participants, to fast-track success.

At the same time, support and community services are brought into the classroom, such as Lifesaving Victoria to discuss water safety, fronting a captive audience and facilitated by Our Place.

Chisholm educator Nivas Nivandhana has been teaching AMEP classes for a decade and says her teaching peers have been curious about how these new classes would work with small children in attendance.

“There have been a lot of questions and concerns raised about having children in the classroom, but we are making the classes accessible. The women come every day to learn and don’t miss classes. We help them to do that.”

Nivas Nivandhana, Chisholm TAFE educator

“It is very loud, and we talk a lot and there is a lot of noise. But that is real life and if they can learn and work here, they can learn and work anywhere,” she said.

In 2023, 23 students graduated from the AMEP classes, which was celebrated with a party held at Doveton College.

“It is a significant event and a really memorable one. Everyone dresses up, there is beautiful food set out on long tables, with music and dancing. It’s a real celebration of what everyone has achieved throughout the year,” Our Place Doveton Community Facilitator Jayne Perry said.