ACEA was incorporated as an association on 17 September 2004. This followed a decision taken by International Forum for Education in Correctional Settings Australia (IFECSA) committee members at the 18 August 2004 meeting to establish a new assocation.

ACEA is building on the work of previous associations, IFECSA and International Forum for Education in Penal Settings (IFEPS).

IFECSA was formed after disussions at the 22 February 2000 IFEPS Executive Meeting. IFECSA continued until the establishment of ACEA in September 2004.

IFEPS – The Melbourne International Forum on Education in Penal Systems (IFEPS) Centre was established in February 1992 following discussions among academics involved in the area of correction education internationally that had made informal contact through conferences arranged by the Correctional Education Association (USA) and the European Prison Education Association.

However, there was no formalised international network for the exchange of ideas, research or for comparison of education and training programs and policies across adult, youth, cultural, or locational lines. In the two years from 1989 to 1991 proposals were exchanged between interested parties and in December 1991, a final agreement was signed at an extraordinary conference at Blagdon, England. Australian, Bob Semmens, had agreed to the proposal however was unable to attend the conference. The founding affiliates of IFEPS clarified the title of the new organisation as follows:

“The word ‘penal’ in the Forum’s title is meant to be as inclusive as possible, with special mention being made of post-release and community-based projects and activities related to people on remand, to young offenders, and even crime prevention.” (IFEPS News, No.1, May 1992)

The founding IFEPS centres were:

  • Simon Fraser, The University of British Columbia, Canada
  • Bergen Folk High School, The Netherlands
  • Leeds University and Leicester University, England
  • Barcelona University, Spain
  • California State University, San Bernardino, USA
  • The University of Minnesota, USA
  • The University of Melbourne, Australia

The founding IFEPS centres were invited to pay an affiliation fee that would create seed funding for IFEPS activities. The Institute of Education at Melbourne University thus formalised its status as a founding member of IFEPS in February 1992. Shortly after a founding committee for the Melbourne University centre was formed and various interested people from across Australia agreed to become consultants to IFEPS.

In April 1992, at a prison education conference in Brisbane, interest was expressed in IFEPS and a conference resolution requested that IFEPS (Melbourne) become the centre for a South Pacific network. This resolution was supported by representatives from New Zealand and Fiji. The IFEPS committee accepted this resolution at its next meeting and issued a Foundation Statement in June 1992.