This page lists some learning resources for beginners (and more experienced paddlers).
The River Canoe Club paddler competencies document
An excellent and extensive guide for boat and equipment selection, types of paddling, skill, the weather, and much more to kayaking and canoeing produced by Paddle Australia.
All about the Award scheme for skills, guide and instructor level accreditation. The standards that each type of water requires for you to feel competent.
An explanation of the Sea and Open Water grade system devised by Paddle NSW
An explanation of the International System of River Grading
Some excellent videos showing basic strokes courtesy of Canoe Tasmania
An article about safety by Jeff West, originally posted on the Jackson Kayak web site