Transformative education: Pathways to identity, independence and hope

Peter Howard
Jude Butcher
Luke Egan


In 2008–2010, the Australian Government’s social inclusion agenda and the Bradley Review of Higher Education profiled the importance of education for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. This education needs to be transformative in both its nature and its outcomes. The Clemente Australia program is presented here as a means of providing such transformative education for people who are disadvantaged or socially isolated. This case study of Clemente Australia shows how the program is built upon a psychology of hope and provides pathways not only to new hope but also to a new sense of identity and independence.

Clemente Australia (CA) is an example of community embedded, socially supported university education (CESS). Essential elements of CA are respecting people for who they are and for where they are within their individual life journeys; building student capacity to be more proactive in reflecting upon and engaging with the world; learning with and relating to others; and promoting educative justice through the recognition of the students’ human rights to participate in tertiary education in a way that meets their personal and academic learning needs.

For the students, the university (Australian Catholic University) and other partners in CA, it is evident that there has been an ongoing shift from dependence upon the provision of materials and services to empowerment and enhanced capabilities in identifying the supports and processes required to meet the personal and professional needs of students, staff and community agencies. This shift has occurred through the scaffolding processes provided, the establishment of innovative partnerships and purposeful reflection. It has involved listening to one another, welcoming people into new worlds and challenging one another in the provision of transformative education to realise the fulfilment of hope for many Australians experiencing disadvantage.

key words: transformation; education; community; hope; homelessness; disadvantage

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