Think HBR


One of the region’s oldest and most successful education businesses has changed its name to help position the organisation for the future.
WEA Hunter was established as a way of providing education to blue collar workers more than 100 years ago and in 2019 it has launched a new name to unify its approach and unlock its potential.
Atwea College unites the organisation’s seven campuses, almost 100 staff, thousands of students, hundreds of courses and programs in the Hunter and Mid North Coast.
Executive Director, Rowan Cox said that the name was created to respect the organisation’s education legacy while setting a strong direction for the future.
“Atwea College is a new name, for a new era.
We have adopted the tagline of ‘unlocking potential’ that our Immediate Past Chairperson, Martin Coates coined when he first heard the name,” Ms Cox said.
“We have an amazing history. You can’t go anywhere without someone mentioning that ‘My Mum, Dad, Uncle, Aunt or I went to WEA,’ to learn a language or a fun lifestyle course. This is still a fundamental and important part of what we do.
“However, in 2019, we are one of the leading providers of community based education in NSW offering senior secondary and vocational education to thousands of people annually across more than 6,000 square kilometres,” she said.
“This has been a bold move by an organisation that has been around since the turn of last century. I commend the work and support of our board who understood the opportunity for the organisation to continue to grow,” Ms Cox said.
The Atwea College team embarked on the renaming project in 2018 with the assistance of Louise Karch of BRANDFluence and author of Word Glue.
All services and educational products provided under WEA Hunter and WEA Coast are now offered through Atwea College. The exception is high school education delivered through Alesco Senior College, which maintains its name as part of the Atwea College group.
Historically best known for its diverse range of lifestyle programs, Atwea College is also very proud of its ability to help people reach their vocation learning potential.
Atwea College Chairperson, Chris Seysener, said that Vocational Education and Training (VET), as well as lifestyle programs, continued to achieve great success under the strong leadership of the organisation’s team of staff and educators.
“The organisation’s growth in the past six years is testament to our vision to develop and deliver programs that provide the right outcomes for our community,” he said.
A snapshot of the organisation shows that: The average VET completion through major providers is 43% and through community based providers it’s about 47% completion.
In 2018, Atwea College Community Services Obligation programs, working with some of the community’s most disadvantages learners, noted 70% positive outcomes for students which was an increase of 10% from the previous year.
The national average for learners identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is just 3.4% and at Atwea College is 4.2% while amongst the student population, there was 31.9% who identified as managing a disability.
In 2019, more than 1,000 people will complete a lifestyle and fun short course while 76 new courses were added to our community. 250 students graduated from years 9 to 12 in December 2018.
“This growth and success emphasises the need to engage local learners through active decentralisation of education. And this is most evident in the expansion of campuses across the region and the provision of niche learning and accredited education in skills needs areas such as aged and community care, complementary health, hospitality and music industry,” Ms Cox said.
“We value integrity, innovation and inclusion. We demonstrate this through our ability to connect and collaborate with people from all walks of life, welcoming all cultures and beliefs. It is also shown in the way we teach, as we tailor our approach to individual learning styles to help each student unlock their potential,” she said.