Today is another great day for the Not-for-Profit sector in Australia. We are launching the first Action Learning Program dedicated to community service sector organisations.

The inaugural Action Learning for Purpose Program follows our recent Research Report on the The Social Return on Education and Training that found that Not-for-Profit organisations in Australia seek and benefit from ongoing learning opportunities, but face significant challenges to resource capability development.

The Action Learning Program is proudly supported by BHP Billiton, and selected organisations will not incur direct financial costs. The Western Australian Council of Social Services assisted greatly with the competitive application-selection scheme. The resulting over-subscription made us realise that there is a clear appetite in the NFP sector for this unique opportunity.

Since Revans articulated the principles of the Action Learning approach, much has been tried, researched, and written. Yet, the central premise remains: the most effective learning takes place when people endeavour to solve their real-world problems and apply conscientious thinking and reflection to their experiences. Together this gives rise to special opportunities – John Schaar nailed it:

The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating.

The paths are not to be found, but made.

And the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.

Action Learning and our Program are theory-driven and evidence-based, it provides NFP sector organisations and their leaders with the opportunity to engage in both systematic learning and change. They are provided:

  • the opportunity to address a challenge for greater social impact
  • a safe environment through which to develop new capabilities and grow
  • experiences through which to enhance learning skills and practices
  • a collaborative network of people from within and across NFP organisations

The Action Learning for Purpose is spaced over four months in which participating leaders will tackle a challenge that they have identified as important for their organisation. The program will facilitate a learning journey that enables the development of new solutions and plans for real-world action.

The program will also provide expertise via academics and experienced sector leaders in four topic areas that our previous Learning for Purpose research has identified as crucial to the functioning and development of community service sector organisations: Strategy, Leadership, Funding, and Talent.

In summary, the program provides community service sector leaders and their organisations with the unique opportunity to engage in systematic learning and doing – away from hectic routines and obligations. It provides resources and support that guide new organisational goals, the implementation of change to achieve these goals, and crucial reflection processes to ensure that learning occurs beyond just solving the problem at hand.

Ultimately, there will be greater social impact and our communities and lives will benefit from the above. Please join me in congratulating the admirable organisations that constitute the 2016 cohorts of the first Action Learning for Purpose Program for the Australian Not-for-Profit sector:

  • Cancer Support Association of WA
  • Injury Control Council
  • Lamp
  • The Samaritans
  • Therapy Focus
  • Blind Citizens
  • VisAbility
  • St Bartholomew’s House
  • Save the Children
  • Kununurra Community Resource Centre
  • Albany Community Legal Centre
  • Business South West
  • Community West
  • Linkwest
  • Befriend
  • Connect Groups
  • Continence Advisory Council
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Indigenous Community Volunteers
  • Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation
  • Mission Australia
  • Ngala
  • People with Disabilities
  • Perth Inner City Youth Service
  • Rise
  • Royal Lifesaving
  • WA Volunteer Task Force