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Clemente Program

Clemente Australia, an innovative university-level program for Australians experiencing multiple disadvantage and social isolation, is founded on Earl Shorris's (2000) Clemente program in the USA.

The Program was introduced to Australia in 2003 by the Australian Catholic University (ACU). The ACU has since partnered with eleven universities across Australia to deliver the Clemente Program through those institutions. The ACU approached the Faculty of Arts, now the College of Arts, Law and Education, at the University of Tasmania in 2014, with the Program being implemented in Semester 2, 2015.

More than 800 Australians have enrolled in a Clemente Australia program and many who have completed the program with a “Certificate of Liberal Arts Studies” have continued to further education, employment and community participation. The achievement of studying at a university level has transformed the lives of many of those who are marginalised, for whatever reason, on the edge of society.


Dallas Williams
Coordinator Clemente Tasmania

Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Scholarship

Image Credit: Clemente Drawing Students 2017

The Goals of the Clemente Program

  • Enhance participants’ self-confidence through rigorous learning and so bring about personal change.
  • Promote a positive view of the future for those who have been marginalised from society thus enabling them to re-engage with society.
  • Make university education accessible to disadvantaged Australians.
  • Use the potential of Humanities education to change lives and promote social inclusion.

There is a dual purpose to the program: to engage people with one another and with education.

Program empowers those most disadvantaged to shine

Clemente Program, Syrian Refugee jean Moussalli

When Syrian refugee Jean Moussalli arrived in Hobart with his family in 2016, education was an important priority to him.

Read more about Jean and the Clemente Program

How is the Program Delivered?

The aim was the creation and delivery of four units towards a Certificate of Liberal Arts Studies. These units comprise one 2 hour workshop over 12 weeks per unit. Students also spend time with a learning mentor.

Unit 1: Indigenous Studies
Unit 2: Sociology
Unit 3: Drawing
Unit 4: Philosophy

Who are the Students?

The Program is aimed at people who may have faced multiple disadvantages. Students include:

  • Asylum Seekers from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.
  • Non-English speaking students.
  • Students who have been denied an education because of family poverty, homelessness, imprisonment, mental illness or age discrimination.

There are 3 criteria for participation in the Program:

  • A degree of stability in life.
  • A passion for learning.
  • The ability to read a newspaper.

University a life-changer for Clemente Students

Clemente students Maria Janabi and Ratachanee Chainuwong

Graduating with their Certificate in Liberal Studies from the University of Tasmania was the greatest sense of achievement for Clemente students Maria Janabi and Ratachanee Chainuwong.

Read more about Maria and Ratachanee

Young asylum seekers pursue their dreams through new scholarships

Clemente graduates Ali Almteri and Haji Mohammad Alizada

Recent Clemente graduates Ali Almteri and Haji Mohammad Alizada are set on making a difference in Medicine and Arts/Law.

Read more about Ali and Haji

Collaborative Partnerships

Clemente Model

Australian Catholic University (ACU)

Clemente Tasmania Committee

College of Arts, Law and Education

Executive Dean
Heads of Schools
Professional staff

4 Foundation level units

Community Organisations

Common Ground
Edmond Rice Centre

Catholic Care
St Vincent de Paul
The Smith Family
LINC Centres


Those who have been denied an education or have been disconnected from education

A core group of 24 students who have participated at various times.


Volunteers who have given up their time to work with the students.

Many mentors are retired or practicing teachers


1. University of Tasmania
2. Australian Catholic University
3. Archdiocese of Hobart
4. Catholic Education Office
5. The Federal Group
6. Hobart City Council
7. Catholic Care Tasmania
8. Hobart Rotary Club
9. Salamanca Rotary Club
10. Christian Brothers Moonah
11. Guilford Young College
12. McKillop College
13. St Mary’s College
14. Dr Helen Williams
15. Sandy Bay / Taroona Catholic Parish
16. St Canice Lifestyle Village