The Australian Government declared in July 2010 that it wants the Global Learning Village model for developing smarter, healthier, better connected communities to be part of Australia’s biggest-ever nation building project. In the past three years the GLV model has gained widespread support nationally and internationally. Its seeds were sown decades ago. They are a combination of values of family, place and purpose. They deliver a creative response to social inclusion.
In 1999, the Hume City Council on the outskirts of Melbourne asked Frank McGuire to be the founding chairman of its Safe City Taskforce. Frank had grown up in Broadmeadows, an area long regarded as the end of the line, which had been incorporated into Hume. He is a dual winner of Australian journalism’s most prestigious honour, the Walkley Award, for investigative journalism - Australia’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. Frank had also worked within Government and spent a year studying community leadership with Leadership Victoria. Frank accepted the position pro bono on the condition he remained independent and would run an agenda. That agenda was to establish the Global Learning Village – a model for inclusion that coordinated the three tiers of Government, business, the philanthropic and community sectors and academic institutions to deliver better results for communities. Frank’s strategy was informed by the experience of his family, who had the imagination to dream of a better future for their children and the courage to cross the world, like millions of other migrant families to pursue it after the World War II. His experience as a journalist was insightful. Thirty years ago, Frank interviewed the leading public servant in the State of Victoria on his retirement. The then head of the Premier’s Department confessed that the biggest failure during his generation of Government was Broadmeadows. This was because of the lack of co-ordination at even one level of Government to deliver the social services necessary for this rapidly expanding community that was left behind.
Frank regarded the Safe City Taskforce as the default position from Governments of all persuasions to areas of disadvantage and need. His strategy was to usurp this law and order model that had previously built a bigger police station and court house in Broadmeadows but lacked the creativity to establish positive life-changing infrastructure – even a public library.
Frank’s aim was to make a paradigm shift from a punitive to preventative model. His leadership took a radical and positive approach to community building by focusing on learning as the key to social and economic wellbeing for all citizens. This was combined with the support of Hume City Council, particularly Cr. Gary Jungwirth. This resulted in facilities beyond the reach of existing resources and bringing key organisations in Hume City to work together. Frank defined the mission as investing in the attributes that largely determine where everyone ends up in life: attitude, education and opportunity. With the advent of computers and technology as a tool to connect the disconnected and jump the digital divide, his motto in 1999 was: “If in the past it has taken a village to raise a child, in the 21st Century each child must be globally connected.” He implemented the strategy by securing key funding partnerships including the support of then Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks, persuading the Victorian Government to invest income from gambling revenue into the GLV model to help connect the disconnected by computers instead of poker machines. Frank also secured the support of then Treasurer and now Premier, John Brumby, who as a former teacher was committed to lifelong learning. Business leaders included the richest man in the state, the late Richard Pratt, whose cardboard box recycling plant was locally based and The Age the metropolitan newspaper, which opened a new printing plant in Hume. The Council had a long established relationship with the Ford Motor Company and secured its support.
Establishing the Hume Global Learning Centre as the foundation for the Global Learning Village model defied what until then had been the immutable laws of power, politics and money because such infrastructure was normally gifted to marginal seats. Frank also helped broker critical partnerships between Hume City Council and the Victorian Government and international leaders in information and communications technology Microsoft and Intel which led to the development of the groundbreaking Ideas Lab, a collaboration including Cisco. The Australian Government funded the GLV model in 2009 as part of a new town centre in Craigieburn – a fringe suburb in a rapidly growing area. The Australia Government says it wants the GLV model to be part of Australia’s biggest-ever infrastructure project, the multi-billion roll-out of high speed broadband.
Three years ago, Frank established an independent entity to roll out the GLV model nationally and internationally to help co-ordinate smarter, healthier, better-connected communities – the crucial dynamic missing when Broadmeadows was established half a century ago. His aim is to help achieve these results through the non-profit Global Learning Village Foundation while maintaining Hume as the model’s flagship.
The Global Learning Village (GLV) is a unique model to deliver smarter, healthier, better connected and sustainable cities. It is designed to provide the social infrastructure necessary for 21st Century communities in areas that need it most. The GLV model is unique in its integrated strategy that:
The GLV aims to maximize value for every dollar spent, and encourages establishment of community hubs in conjunction with schools, libraries, childcare centres, sporting facilities or community hubs for the elderly. This combination of principles is important for cities around the world facing the dilemma of trying to cope with large scale population movements. The GLV model has proved to be highly adaptable and successful for communities in Melbourne’s inner city, its outer suburbs and the development of its new fringe suburbs, towns and cities necessary to underwrite its next era of prosperity. It is a successful social inclusion initiative that can be replicated internationally.
The Global Learning Village model coordinates partnerships between the three tiers of government (Federal, State and Local Government), the business sector, the community, NGOs, the philanthropic sector and academic institutions for maximum results. Against the odds and in defiance of critics who said it could never be achieved, the Global Learning Village has convinced Governments, businesses, institutions, agencies and rugged individuals to set aside silo mentalities, turf wars and institutional egos and collaborate to successfully deliver better result in the public interest.
A key objective of the GLV model is to link community development with Government investment in nation and community building projects. Australia is the only advanced country to avoid recession during the Global Financial Crisis. During this period, the Australian Government made its biggest investment in social infrastructure to a new town centre with a Global Learning Village as its icon feature. The Australian Government has also said it wants the Global Learning Village model to be part of Australia’s biggest ever nation building project, the $42 billion rollout of high speed broadband. The Minister responsible for this project said he had been inspired by the vision and commitment of the founder of the Global Learning Village, Mr. Frank McGuire.
The Australian Minister for Communications, Broadband and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said: “It has had a profound impact. I have great pleasure in congratulating the pioneer of the model. It was his vision, his idea and he took an idea and he worked and worked at it to deliver the incredible outcome that exists.
“It’s an inspirational story of how you can take an idea, when everyone tells you it can’t be done. When everyone tells you don’t bother out there, it’s a waste of time. Frank would not listen to all the naysayers. He had his vision and he wanted to turn it into a reality and it is now an incredible reality. Frank helped inspire me in trying to take this sort of idea across the whole country.”
The proof of concept of the Global Learning Village model was the hub and spokes model established in the City of Hume. It opened with a one stop community hub in Broadmeadows – one of the poorest areas of metropolitan Melbourne that didn’t even have its own public library until one was established as part of the Hume Global Learning Centre. This hub was designed to cater for local community wants and needs providing computer access to connect people to a network otherwise beyond their reach that has blossomed into more than 700 organisations from neighbourhood houses and skills shops to colleges and universities.
It provides access to pre-school classes, bilingual story time, mentoring for homework and literacy, training for lifelong learning, jobs, small business development and recreation from sport and martial arts to belly dancing.
The second structure was the Visy Cares Learning Centre build in Meadow Heights. This has a maternal and childcare focus in a centre that also provides access to computers and is connected into the network of 700 organisations outlined above. The centre also provides a range of health care and educational services. It has had a major impact on social inclusion in an area that has one of Australia’s highest concentrations of Muslim residents. The GLV model can be easily adapted to other locations and communities. As well as the centre in Broadmeadows, and Meadow Heights, a new town centre is soon to be build in Craigieburn, one of the rapidly growing fringe areas needed to underwrite Australian’s next era of prosperity.
Residents who survived Australia’s worst natural disaster, the Black Saturday bushfires in February 2007 want the GLV model to be employed in re-establishing their communities for the 21st Century. New GLV centres are being considered for Dandenong and Sunshine in the metropolitan area and Geelong, a regional city 75km north-west of Melbourne. The Tasmanian Premier and the Treasurer of Australia’s Northern Territory also support the GLV model and how it can be applied in their State and Territory.
The United Nations Global Compact Cities Program has tested the model and its Secretariat wishes to promote it internationally. The GLV model has been acknowledged internationally and won bipartisan political support, winning two Prime Minister’s awards and multi-awards from the Victorian Government. The Prime Minister of Australia and his successor launched the Australian Government’s Social Inclusion Board from the Hume Global Learning Centre in 2008.
Hume is one of the most disadvantaged local government authorities in Victoria according to the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA). It has many low income families and people with little training and unskilled occupations, and the lowest Year 12 completion and learning retention rates in Melbourne.
Learning opportunities for children in their early years are important for building a strong foundation for life. The Hume Global Learning Centre demonstrates what can be achieved with investment in community facilities and a focus on lifelong learning.
The Ideas Lab, which was established in the Hume Global Learning Centre, commenced operation in September 2008 and provides
Some of the ideas and activities that contribute to improving the social fabric of the community included: