Twenty per cent of Australians are fortunate enough to be educated at university; regrettably others never have the chance to continue their education. This year the Clemente program in Australia celebrates its 10th anniversary.
Since 2003 Clemente Australia has been opening up the possibility of university education to marginalised Australians, many of whom would never have imagined such an opportunity.
Clemente Australia is a university course for Australians experiencing multiple disadvantage and social isolation, be it homelessness, addiction, poor health or unemployment. Last year nearly a million Australians between the ages of 18 and 64 experienced multiple disadvantage.
The Clemente program was founded in the United States of America in 1996 by Earl Shorris. Clemente Australia is based on this program and it currently runs in 11 locations nationally. About 800 people have enrolled in the program to date, with 130 completing the course and 60 known participants having gone on to further tertiary education.
National Leader of Clemente Australia, Associate Professor Peter Howard of Australian Catholic University, said that the purpose of this program was twofold: to re-engage people in community and to re-engage people in learning.
'Around Australia, 30 to 40 per cent of people experiencing multiple disadvantage have completed or undertaken some form of university level study,' Associate Professor Howard said. 'This program is at no cost to students. They do four units of study across four semesters to complete and gain a Certificate in Liberal Studies.
'Clemente is what we call community-embedded, socially supported education, where the community is taking responsibility in partnership with the university.'