The First 50 Years: 1948 to 1998


The College commenced operation in 1948 under the leadership of the Principal of Dubbo High School. It commenced as a community outreach programme offered in the evenings for mature age people who had left school without their Leaving Certificate. 

On the 2nd March 1987 the College became incorporated as Orana Regional Evening College Inc. servicing the Orana Region. Prior to this it was known as ALEC (Adult Leisure Education Courses). The College offered general interest courses in a range of areas and conducted a program for the frail aged and disabled on a regional basis.

In 1988, the College began to offer specialised courses for Aboriginal people and appointed a full time Aboriginal Coordinator in 1989. Over the years our involvement with Aboriginal communities include Feeding the Family Programs, Art and Craft Courses, Indigenous Languages, Directors Training, Critical Success Factors. In 1990 the College changed its name to Western College of Adult Education incorporated.

Literacy courses became a feature of the College in 1991 and a part time coordinator was appointed in 1992. During 1991, the College obtained Helping Early Leavers (HELP) funding which aimed at improving the retention rate of Aboriginal students in Coonamble, Narromine and Wellington. This program continues as the Links to Learning Program in Dubbo.

From 1992, grants under various schemes such as AESIP and ALLP were obtained and literacy/numeracy courses were extended to Lightning Ridge, Walgett, Brewarrina, Coonamble and Gulargambone. The College gained DEET Assessor status and began providing Literacy/Numeracy training to CES clients under the Special Intervention Program.

In 1994, the College achieved registration with NSW Vocation Education Training Accreditation Board as a Registered Training Organisation. The scope included Child Care, Medical Terminology, Word Processing, Reception Skills, Certificate in Adult General Education, Koori Education and Training and Farm Chemical Use. Today the scope includes over 50 qualifications ranging from Certificate I level to Advanced Diploma. During 1996 Certificate II in Office & Small Business Skills for Aboriginal Community Organisations curriculum that was developed by the College was registered with the NSW Vocation Education Training Accreditation Board

In 1997 tailor made business programs were introduced into the College program. These remain a strong feature of the College. From 1998 the College became increasing involved in a variety of employment services including the Mature Workers Program through the Department of Education and Training the Pre-employment and Mentor Support Program with the Department of Juvenile Justice. The Pre-employment and Mentor Support Program continues today as the Employment Skilling Program.

The Next 50 Years.... from 1999:


The record of achievement is extensive and as the Orana community develops so too does the College. Still firmly focussed on fulfilling the niche between traditional school, tertiary education, employment and life long personal enrichment, the College has developed into one of the Regions most successful community led organisations.

Timeline of achievement 

  • 2000 became one of two Community Work Coordinators for the Commonwealth Government’s Work for the Dole programs.  
  • 2001 selected by Meat and Livestock Australia as their NSW Licensee for the EDGE network. 
  • 2002 moved into purpose built training facilities as Western College, Centre for Business and Community Learning at 37 Cobbora Road Dubbo. This was the first purpose built training facility for a community college in NSW. 
  • 2003 registered its name change to Western College Incorporated. 
  • 2007 announced as the successful proponent to establish the Australian Technical College in the Dubbo region. 
  • 2008 selected to deliver the highly successful Blokes in Business and Resilient Families program across the region to drought affected farmers in conjunction with Vanguard Business Services.  
  • 2009 started work on expanding facilities, doubling the college infrastructure foot print to accommodate increased demand. This was made possible with a $1.5M Federal Government Grant.  
  • 2010 announced as the successful tenderer for the Australian Apprenticeships Access program with Job Futures and the Language Literacy and Numeracy Program in consortium with Australian College of Language (Navitas). In 2010 Western College was also announced as the NSW Small Training Provider of the Year.
  • 2011  State Finalist in NSW Training Awards 
  • 2013 Recognised for Community Service with the Links to Learning program by National Communications Organisation Sensis, promoting the theme, "inspiring others to achieve".
  • 2014  The Launch of an independent school (Year 9 – 10) for disengaged youth seeking an alternative approach, with pathways back to mainstream education or employment. This also included a regional first class for teenage parents with crèche.
  • 2017 Opening of the Western College Safety Training Centre at 39 Cobbora Road for specialised training in first aid, forklift training, working at heights and inconfined spaces and health and safety representative courses.  

Read More..... The Early History of Community Colleges in Australia