Clemente Australia - a commitment to equity - Media Brief

This briefing note is to updatemedia on the achievements and key insights from Clemente Australia (CA), a program for marginalised and homeless Australians.

Since the program began in 2003, Australian Catholic University (ACU) has been actively involved in research. ACU is currently undertaking CA research with Griffith, Western Australia, Edith Cowan, Ballarat and Curtin Universities. Findings from a recent synthesis of CA research completed (2005-2010) strengthen our confidence in ACU's contribution to addressing serious disadvantage through this innovative and challenging program. The research synthesis also provides suggestions for further research directions.

Background information

  • Clemente is an international program, begun in Australia 9 years ago at the instigation of ACU. CA is offered in all state capital cities, Canberra and the regional centres of Ballarat, Campbelltown and Newcastle.
  • CA is run in partnership with community agencies, among themthe St Vincent de Paul Society, Mission Australia, CatholicCare Melbourneand the Smith Family. University partners are Ballarat, Edith Cowan and Flinders. These partnerships are fundamental to the success of the program.
  • Students are selected and supported by the community partners who usually provide a site for the course.
  • The CA course is built from four humanities-based university units. Students who complete all four units graduate with a Certificate in Liberal Studies and gain credit at ACU and other tertiary institutions.

CA outcomes

The research synthesis found the following CA program outcomes:

  • CA students and graduates - CA began with 10 students on one site in 2003. In 2012, 500 students aged 10-70 have been involved across nine sites. Of these 500, 86 have graduated and continued with further educational choices.
  • Renewed hope and re-engagement with society - demonstrated by: (a) commencing or returning to further university study; (b) re-engagement with work, and/or; (c) rebuilding family relationships.
  • Well-being and new skills - CA develops a sense of well-being in students along with new skills and knowledge.


Partnerships - CA is dependent for its success on partnerships between ACU and community organisations, and also individuals from within these organisations and from business; for its wider distribution across Australia the program relies on other universities. CA provides a prime opportunity to study how complex partnerships designed to address difficult problems operate successfully. It offers the potential to engage in research partnerships between those who work in CA from ACU and the partner organisations, and experts in organisational behaviour. The current cross-institutional research has already demonstrated the rich opportunities that are available to work with other universities and those with different research expertise.

Learning and Teaching - In the current policy environment all universities will be seeking to attract students from increasingly diverse backgrounds and experience. Given this challenge, the lessons learnt from CA that addresses a diverse group of students who have no recent experience of study, or of achievement, provides an enormous resource to help determine what professional development, systems and processes will be needed to attract and retain and to educate such students.

For Clemente Australia media enquires please contact:

Jen Rosenberg
National Media Manager
Marketing and External Relations
Australian Catholic University
P: +61 2 9739 2513

Associate Professor Peter Howard
National Leader, Beyond Disadvantage/National Leader, Clemente Australia
Institute for Advancing Community Engagement
T: +61 2 9701 4318