2021 NAFEA Conference

The Future of WIL: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


2021 NAFEA Conference

The Future of WIL: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

NAFEA is the national peak body for higher education staff involved in the logistics and administration of work-integrated learning across Australia. Each year, the NAFEA conference brings together a range of stakeholders from across the WIL cycle including NAFEA members, WIL administrators, WIL Researchers, placement providers and policy makers.

The conference will provide a forum for practitioners, administrators and other allies to engage with like-minded professionals to discuss strategies, innovations and practices. The NAFEA conference is a valuable opportunity for professional development.


  • Brisbane: QUT, Kelvin Grove
  • Melbourne: The University of Melbourne
  • Adelaide: The University of South Australia

If you are interested in being a hosting hub for the conference in your State, please contact us at contactus@nafea.org,au

Thursday, 25 November 2021


The Future of WIL: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Work-integrated learning (WIL) has become a focus for most higher and vocational education providers as a response to the needs of industry and government policies to better equip graduates for the future world of work. Likewise, risk management, health and well-being have increasingly become a focus for education providers, acknowledging that WIL is multifaceted and complex. The power of WIL can be transformative but equally there are risks of exclusion to equal opportunities as well as barriers and access issues for students from historically disadvantaged or under-represented groups. The future of WIL needs to consider strategies, innovations and practices to enable and to grow diversity, equity and inclusion in addition to considerations of risk management, health and well-being.

The 2021 conference will explore current and future challenges associated with work-Integrated learning (WIL) with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion issues. The conference sessions will focus on a broad range of topics related to WIL in the context of growing concerns related to equity, access, risk management and well-being.

Presentations, break-out sessions and workshops are welcomed on the broader theme of the conference as well as related to:

  • Equity and access to WIL activities;
  • Improvement of WIL administrative processes related to supporting:
    • students with a disability;
    • students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds;
    • Indigenous students;
    • students from diverse sexes, genders and sexualities backgrounds;
    • International students; and,
    • other historically disadvantaged or under-represented groups.
  • How to create equivalent WIL opportunities regardless of students’ backgrounds;
  • Use of technology to enhance WIL experiences and to enable diverse, equitable and inclusive learning activities and administrative processes;
  • Development of resources that support students, industry partners/organisations and supervisors on placement, particularly with a focus on enabling and fostering diverse, equitable and inclusive environments;
  • The impact of unconscious bias in WIL and the workplace;
  • WIL risk management with a particular focus on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion;
  • Self-care and well-being of students, staff and industry/community partners, including supporting students with mental health conditions.

For information on presenting and submission of your abstract, see Call for Presenters. Abstracts are due by 31 July 2021.


Further details of the program will be posted on the NAFEA website, Facebook and LinkedIn as soon as the program is finalised.


All fees listed are in Australian dollars and payment options are listed below.

Closes: 31 July, 2021 Super Early Bird Full Day

Online Only

Full Day


Members  $50 $95
Non-Members  $120 $165
Closes: 10 September, 2021 Early Bird Full Day

Online Only

Full Day


Members  $60 $105
Non-Members  $130 $175
Closes: 11 November, 2021 Post Early Bird Full Day

Online Only

Full Day


Members  $75 $120
Non-members  $145 $190

Payment Options:

Payment can be made by credit card, direct transfer or PayPal.

If you choose to pay by credit card or direct transfer, the NAFEA Treasurer will issue an invoice to pay the registration fees. Please allow up to 3 business days.

Payment Enquiries?

Contact NAFEA Treasurer:

* NAFEA Conference Cancellation Policy

Payment for cancellations or no-shows must be made in accordance with the following schedule.

  • More than 14 days: no charge
  • Less than 14 days: 100% of the total amount

Cancellation must be in writing to the NAFEA Treasurer.

** If the in-person conference is cancelled due to COVID-19, such as a lockdown, the difference between online and in-person costs will be refunded to delegates.

Conference Presenters

‘I assumed the degree would be all I needed…’ First in family equity student experiences during the quest for ‘employability’

Presenter: Prof Sarah O’Shea

Overview: The hyper competitive nature of the graduate employment field combined with larger numbers of degree bearing candidates, has resulted in more complex journeys to gaining employment after graduation. This complexity is particularly exacerbated for those students who are the first in their family to attend university, many of whom fall into multiple ‘equity’ categories. Drawing on interviews and surveys conducted with first in family university students and alumni, this presentation will foreground the reflections of recent graduate and alumni, on career aspiration, work integrated learning and also, becoming career ready. Many of this cohort did not have ready access to underpinning social and cultural capitals that can assist in securing employment after graduation. The narratives of the participants highlighted the somewhat ‘hidden’ inequities and unfair expectations within the contemporary job market. Based upon students’ richly descriptive insights, some recommendations are offered which are particularly pertinent as we enter a post-pandemic period with anticipated high rates of unemployment combined with potentially greater levels of university participation.

When WIL is considered an ‘Added -Extra’ to the real work of career education: What WIL opportunities do Secondary Students Really Receive?

Presenters: Dr Jane Coffey and Prof Dawn Bennett

Overview: ‘Ameliorating Disadvantage’ explored the impact of socio-economic status on access to quality study pathways and career advice. Our findings suggest that university education remains a pathway of privilege and the division in the type and quality of advice and support provided to non-ATAR students has potentially long-lasting impacts on future employability. The presenters share insights from secondary school students whose experience was that access to WIL is limited and is often not supported or accounted for in the broader curriculum.

Exploring benefits and challenges of online work integrated learning for equity students

Presenter: A/Prof Amani Bell (on behalf of the research team: Kathryn Bartimote, Lucy Mercer-Mapstone, Gulwanyang Moran, James Tognolini (The University of Sydney) and Nora Dempsey (US Department of State))

Overview:  Students from equity backgrounds report barriers to their uptake of WIL. In this project, we investigated whether online WIL might be one way of overcoming these barriers. The presentation will discuss the benefits and challenges of online WIL for students from equity groups in Australia and the US, as reported by students and educators, and provide recommendations on how to enhance online WIL to better meet the needs of students from diverse backgrounds.

Why we hesitate: Students with disability and WIL

Presenter: David Eckstein

Overview: This presentation will report on a NCSEHE Equity Fellowship entitled ‘Meaningful jobs for graduates with disability: From luck to business as usual’. Part of this research examined attitudes that staff, students with disability (SwD) and employers brought to career development, including WIL. The presentation will highlight the ways in which these attitudes essentially compromise SwD’s WIL engagement, and the importance of including disability in national WIL strategy.

Co-designing Inclusive Work-Integrated Learning Practices 

Presenter: Dr Mollie Dollinger

Overview: University funding under the Job-ready Graduates Package has heightened pressure for universities to support work-integrated learning (WIL). However, the task of scaling WIL is complex and requires not only greater resourcing and training, but a redesign of how practices can support equitable participation across all student cohorts. This presentation will review current university WIL practices and provide future recommendations on how inclusive co-design can be supported and implemented.

Partnership as a model to enhance WIL opportunities for RRR students

Presenters: Ms Kylie Austin and Dr Olivia Groves

Overview: Work integrated learning (WIL) is a critical component of a holistic approach to career development learning (CDL), in providing students with authentic experiences of the world of work. For students living in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas, their experiences of CDL, and WIL in particular, is vastly different to students who live in cities or coastal areas, with real world experiences of work often occurring by chance or through community networks. As such, a multi-stakeholder partnership model that has a geographic responsibility for providing a WIL provision for students in RRR areas, could enable an intentional and staged approach to WIL for these students.