December Newsletter

From the Director; Language Centre; Sydney ELICOS; Staff News; Visual Arts Exhibitions; UON PREP; Research News; Crime and Governance Symposium; For your Diary; Work Health and Safety

Message from the Director

2017 has been another successful year for the Centre on many fronts.

We’ve celebrated the success of our staff and programs in various arenas.  A number of our staff were again recognised for their commitment and excellence through a number of internal and external awards. We farewelled several staff, some going on to enjoy the spoils of retirement, whilst welcoming new staff.

In the research space we continue to build, with two current externally funded research projects underway.

It has been a challenging year for our enabling programs, with the Federal Government’s proposed radical changes to enabling education.  With the reforms blocked in the Senate we await the government’s next moves.  The Student Feedback on Courses (SFC) continues to affirm the high quality of our enabling courses and programs.  Our overall student numbers were slightly up on 2016, with noticeable growth in the Open Foundation Online program. Our asylum seeker cohort have done extremely well in 2017.

Overall there was a drop in ELICOS enrolments on both campuses in 2017, although the last 2 intakes for the year have delivered higher student numbers. The Language Centre administered in excess of 2000 IELTS tests and over 170 families registered with the Homestay program, which accommodated 410 students.

The UON PREP suite of courses continues to offer quality short courses to our students, with increasing numbers enrolling in the online courses.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your ongoing and unwavering commitment to our students.  I am fortunate to have had the support of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), who is very supportive of our enabling and international programs.

I do hope you all enjoy a well-earned break at Christmas, and return refreshed for the important work that we do.

Seamus Fagan

To read Seamus’ full end of year report to the ELFSC Board, click here .

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Language Centre News

Pronunciation and Music

Language Centre teacher Louise Pavey continues to receive positive feedback in relation to materials she has developed that explore the connection between music and pronunciation. This year Louise has received inquiries from teachers at the Deakin English University Institute in Geelong, and the College at Western Sydney University. Louise originally presented her approach to teaching pronunciation through music at the 2016 UECA conference in Sydney, at which she received the award for Best Presentation. This year Louise has presented at both Sydney and Melbourne UECA conferences, held at Sydney University and Monash University respectively.

Final Micro-PD for 2018

The final Micro-PD session for 2017 was presented by Jacqueline Westwood on November 28th. Details of Jacqueline’s session are as follows:

Old photos, new frames: Using images to engage learners (Tuesday 28th November)

  • Ideas for why, how and when to use images with examples from lessons delivered at the UON Language Centre.
  • Details: 11:15am – 11:45am in room 10

With 9 sessions in total presented during 2017, Micro-PDs have been a valuable addition to the Callaghan Language Centre’s approach to professional development and have provided an opportunity for colleagues to discuss and debate ideas in a friendly and informal setting. The initiative will continue in 2018.

Reading Group for Language Centre Teachers

This year, Language Centre teachers Adam Connor and Natalia Soeters started a Reading Group for teachers at the Callaghan Language Centre. These sessions are gaining in popularity with participants finding group sessions both valuable and enjoyable. In terms of logistics, prior to each session group members select a reading that is of interest to members on a topic relevant to their practice as teachers. During the sessions, members discuss the reading and their reactions to the ideas and findings expressed therein. Group co-founder Adam Connor also played a key role in starting the centre’s Micro-PD program and these two initiatives combined provide an extremely valuable fulcrum for teacher led professional development at the Language Centre.

The next session of the Reading Group will be held at 3:15 on Thursday 7th December. Teacher Shelley Hough has selected an article on the topic of motivating students to succeed in their English studies. For a copy of the article and further details as to the location of the session, please contact Adam or Natalia via email.

Shohoku Update

At the beginning of October, the Language Centre welcomed six students from Shohoku College in Kanagawa Japan for a customised twelve week ELICOS programme. This programme which runs every year from October to Boxing Day, allows the students to study English in integrated ELICOS and tailored TOEIC classes, participate in weekly sports activities and volunteer in the community. This year, there are five students studying at the Elementary level and one student in Intermediate. To date, the students have visited tourist spots such as Blackbutt, Sydney and Morpeth with their teachers and homestay families and spent a day volunteering at The Wetlands. The group also brought Japanese cultural awareness to a local primary school in the form of Japanese songs, language and origami.

Student Experience News

In Student Experience news, Anne Burnett recently helped to organise an opportunity for 10 Language Centre students to attend an interactive beach safety event at the Cook Hill Surf Lifesaving Club on Sunday November 19th.  Students enjoyed the day which provided them with an opportunity to not only learn about beach safety, but also talk with club members and even go for a swim.

As part of the Student Experience Program’s approach to the orientation of new students, Health and Welfare Advisor Noel Gueco from Student Central recently presented the last “stress less” lecture for the year to an engaged audience of 20 language centre students. These sessions have proved popular with Noel focusing on an interactive approach to the sessions which focus on coping with test anxiety and decreasing stress during the exam period.

Recently, almost 100 current ELICOS students attended a UON Halloween party at Bar on the Hill. Photos from the event will soon be available on the Language Centre Facebook page which can be accessed here.

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As we head into the last weeks of the teaching year, Sydney ELICOS continues its busy schedule. The large student intake in Block 8 is gearing up for the week 7 and week 10 exams, while new students for Block 9 are settling into classes for weeks 1-5. Five transfer requests from Callaghan were approved in Block 9 with one denied due lack of room in Upper Intermediate.

Student Engagement activities for Block 9 continue with the Student Achievement Award taking place Wednesday 6/12/17. The nominees have each produced a video (made on their mobile phones) about their experiences at the Sydney centre, the Selection Committee has met and the winner will be announced on the day receiving $500. The Student Christmas party will be held at the King George Community Centre on Friday 8/12/17 which will include ELICOS students and community members celebrating with activities and a light dinner. The photo shows the Life Saving / Rock Fishing safety talk which was given in early November.

Sydney ELICOS wishes everyone a safe and happy Christmas.

Barbara Mansfield

Program Convenor, UoN Sydney Language Centre

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Staff News

The UON Academy held its end of year celebration and awards on 10 November at NeW Space.  At this event, the work of all sessional staff is acknowledged by the University, and finalists of the Sessional Staff Excellence Award are announced.

Congratulations to our Open Foundation lecturer, Joel McGregor, who received a Highly Commended Sessional Staff Excellence accolade:

In 2016, Joel started as a tutor in the intensive Social Enquiry course and, due to his professionalism and enthusiasm for teaching and learning, he progressed to course coordination of two Social Enquiry courses in 2017. The successfully delivery of the above courses required Joel to care, support and mentor large enabling student cohorts and multiple tutors. Joel’s commitment to providing exceptional teaching is evidenced by student feedback where he has been described as ‘outstanding’: “Joel McGregor has been an outstanding tutor. The effort put into teaching and support has been something I have not seen in another tutor.”

Joel’s continual strive for quality teaching is evident in pedagogical techniques producing effective learning outcomes for students and providing timely feedback including differentiated guided independent and group learning that assists students who are struggling as well as extending learning for students requiring it. Joel is currently developing a blended learning project based on these principles. Joel provides an exceptional student experience that stimulates curiosity and independence in learning and fosters student development as evidenced in his most recent SFT results where he scored 4.93 for knowledge, 4.64 for motivation, learning support and professionalism and 4.54 for overall teacher satisfaction.

Congratulations – Ryan O’Neill

Ryan has done it again. Following on from his shortlisting for the Miles Franklin Award, Ryan has won the 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards in the Fiction Category. Over 450 entries were submitted, and 30 literary pieces across six categories were selected.

The Award celebrates outstanding talent in Australia and the valuable contribution Australian writing makes to the nation’s cultural and intellectual life.

This is a magnificent achievement and we in the Centre are very proud to have Ryan as a colleague and as are your students to have him as a teacher.

Read more about the award, and Ryan’s work “Their Brilliant Careers” here

Read The Sydney Morning Herald article here

More Congratulations

Dr Bronwyn Relf has been promoted from Level A to Level B as well as elected to the Executive of the National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia (NAEEA).

Also congratulations to Dr Anna Bennett who was also elected to the Executive of NAEEA.  It is very important for our Centre to have representation and engagement with this important peak body for enabling education.

Staff update

For the last few months Dr Emma Hamilton has been Deputy Convenor of Open Foundation (Callaghan) and Convenor of Open Foundation Online, which the Centre has greatly appreciated.

From 2018 Emma will be Convenor of Open Foundation Online and Dr Heath Jones will be Deputy Convenor of Open Foundation (Callaghan).

With the imminent retirement of Dr David Powter, who was the Centre’s Student Academic Conduct Officer (SACO), Dr Carol Carter has agreed to assume the role of SACO for the Centre.

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Open Foundation Visual Arts Exhibitions and Scholarships


The 2017 Open Foundation Visual Arts Exhibition at Ourimbah was held on Monday 6 November and, despite the wild weather that day, approximately 45 guests battled the elements to make it to the campus for what turned out to be a lovely evening. ELFS staff and students, guests from other areas of UON, as well as family and friends of our late colleague, Dr Ibtihal Samarayi, came along to this showcase of the talents of our Visual Arts students. We were also pleased to announce Heather Davis as the recipient of the 2017 Dr Ibtihal Samarayi Memorial Scholarship (Ourimbah).


The students of Callaghan Open Foundation Visual Arts, 2017 proudly presented an exhibition of their work, in the Fine Art Building on Tuesday 7 November. Associate Professor Seamus Fagan officially opened this wonderful event with an inspiring speech on the power of art to effect change.

The evening event was a delightful way to celebrate the significant achievements of the students by exhibiting their artwork for families, friends and staff to enjoy. For many students, it is their first opportunity to have their work on public display and they embraced the opportunity with enthusiasm and apprehension.

A key part of this event was the presentation of the Ibtihal Samarayi Memorial Visual Art Scholarship. This award was established in honour of the late Dr Ibtihal Samarayi, a respected colleague who contributed significantly over many years to developing the artistic talents of her Open Foundation Visual Arts students, through encouragement and her dedication to teaching. We were honoured to have Dr Samarayi’s husband, Sadraddin Ahmed Aziz, attend and present the scholarship.

The scholarship acknowledges dedication and commitment to creative achievement in Open Foundation Visual Arts and was awarded to Sienna Tynski. A student who has really grown into developing her work. She has applied and stretched herself during the year and consequently has done well. Sienna wants to study architecture.

We congratulate all the Visual Arts students on their marvellous work.

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The 2018 Summer UONPREP period will commence 29 January and run over 4 weeks. There will be 17 courses on offer running over three campuses – Callaghan, Ourimbah and Port Macquarie. Enrolments will open earlier than previous years on 4 December in order to compliment earlier direct UON Offers and UAC offers.

Further changes for 2018 will include more focused computer classes with the advanced computing course being split into two separate targeted skills courses. 1) Expert MS word: formatting and referencing 2) Advanced Excel.

This cycle of review/reflect and the flexible adaptation of courses continues to ensure that the UONPREP program delivers focused courses that successfully prepare students from a range of diverse backgrounds for their undergraduate and enabling studies. The retention and success data indicates that the UONPREP courses are highly successful and valuable in terms of retention and success rates for the students.

For a complete list of the 2018 UON PREP course offerings, please click here

For a review of the 2017 UON PREP period, the full article can be read in Seamus’ end of year report to the ELFSC Board.

Online UONPrep offerings

To facilitate early engagement of UON students, an extra moderated offering of the Centre’s four Online UONPrep courses will be implemented from 4 December to 22 December 2017.

The Online UONPrep suite of courses has been growing steadily since 2014. We now offer:

Academic Survival Skills Online: A nine-module short course designed as an extended orientation to UON’s systems and support as well as an introduction to fundamental academic practices and skills required for studying in higher education.

The Secret Life of Matter: Foundation Chemistry: A ten-module short course introducing students to the fundamental building blocks of chemistry. This course is suitable preparation for entry to enabling level chemistry as well as for students wishing to refresh their chemistry knowledge for entry to first-year undergraduate chemistry courses.

Essential Numeracy: A four-module course covering the basics of numeracy suitable for students entering enabling Introductory Mathematics who may have gaps in their foundational knowledge of numeracy and arithmetic.

Maths for Science: A three-module course focusing on the types of numeracy and arithmetic essential for studying in the sciences, such as scientific notation and significant figures.

Each of the four courses has been designed so that students may assess their own learning needs and dip in and out of each module accordingly. Alternatively, students can take the opportunity to be guided sequentially through the modules with the help of an online moderator. We are fortunate to have the expertise of Ryan O’Neill, Lucia Sakoff, Cathy Burgess and Ben Carter fulfilling these roles.

The four courses will be open for registration from Wednesday 22 November 2017.

A further moderated iteration of the courses will occur in the usual Summer 2018 UONPrep period and this iteration will include a third and final maths course: Maths for Engineering, designed and moderated by Scott Sciffer.

By Evonne Irwin

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Research News

RESEARCH ROUNDUP: 8 DECEMBER – 10.00am to 12.00pm

Callaghan MCG56 & Ourimbah HO173

Please come along to share your learnings from this year’s conference and to discuss ways forward for ELFSC research(er) development in 2018. If you can’t attend and have ideas for future workshops please get in touch with Jo Hanley.

We will also hear from Jaime Hunt, the ELFSC representative on UON’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). Jaime will provide insights on ethics applications and approval processes, along with information on the functions of the committee and his role as a member.


Thanks to all those who presented at the two pre-conference sessions: Rosalie Bunn, Bronwyn Relf, Michelle Picard, Sharon Cooper, Heath Jones, Tony Morison, Anna Bennett, Evonne Irwin, Sharlene Leroy-Dyer, and Kristen Allen.

These sessions were a most valuable way of ‘testing’ presentation material with peer support and feedback, and also for allowing those colleagues who could not attend the conference a chance to hear what they were missing.


The 2017 NAEEA conference, held this year at SCU’s Gold Coast campus, was well-attended by ELFSC staff, including several first-timers. ELFSC attendees are to be commended for their active involvement in the conference, running numerous workshops and showcase presentations across the three days. It was clear to this observer that UON is a research leader in access and enabling, and this was acknowledged on numerous occasions by conference delegates from across the sector.

The incoming NAEEA Executive was also announced at the conference - congratulations to Anna Bennett and Bronwyn Relf on your appointments to the association’s leadership team.


The findings and recommendations of the enabling curriculum OLT Seed Grant Project led by Bronwyn Relf were presented at the NAEEA conference. Along with grant team members Nicole Crawford (UTAS), John O'Rourke (ECU) and Sue Sharp (ECU), Bronwyn presented a workshop to enabling practitioners from Australia and the US. The findings were enthusiastically received and discussed by all who attended. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants were presented with a hard copy of the final report.

There are spare copies available. If you would like one see Bronwyn.

As part of the project outputs, the 'Enabling Curriculum' Special Interest Group was established through NAEEA. Next year the SIG will be acting on the report recommendations. The first meeting will be held towards the end of January-beginning of February. If you are interested in participating in the SIG, please contact Bronwyn.

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Crime and Governance Symposium

Last month, the Crime and Governance thematic group of The Australian Sociological Association hosted a one-day symposium on the theme, ‘Crime Control in the 21st Century’. Convened by our Open Foundation academic, Joel McGregor, it was held at the University of Newcastle Sydney campus and was well attended by TASA members, other academics non-members and practitioners.

The symposium hosted two brilliant keynote speakers. The first was Eileen Baldry, Deputy Vice Chancellor Inclusion and Diversity and Professor of Criminology at University of New South Wales. She has an extensive research and publication history, being the chief investigator on 16 ARC, NH&MRC, AHURI and other category 1 grants and 22 category 2–4 grants. Eileen presented a fascinating paper on hyperincarceration, criminalisation and control. Through her detailed account of the growth in the prison population, Eileen argued that we are not seeing mass incarceration but rather hyperincarceration. This is the incarceration of minority groups who are being controlled, systematically criminalised and entrenched within the criminal justice system.

Xanthé Mallett gave the second keynote address. Xanthé is a criminologist and forensic practitioner, author of Mothers Who Murder, TV presenter, CEO of Forensic Human Identification and discipline leader of Criminology at the University of Newcastle. She demonstrated how innocence initiatives are keeping the criminal justice system ‘honest’. Using the case study of Keli Lane, Xanthé detailed the flaws in the original investigation outlining how Lane was convicted of murder with no body, evidence, motive or witnesses. She argued for the potential of wrongful convictions within the criminal justice system and, therefore, the need for innocence initiatives.

Following the success of the symposium, The Journal of Applied Youth Studies (JAYS), along with guest editors Joel McGregor and Xanthé Mallett, are now welcoming abstract submissions for a special issue to be published in early 2018. The primary goal if this special issue is to critically reflect on the purpose and function of youth research.

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For your Diary

Christmas party– 15 December, 3pm, Mamadukes (Callaghan)

Direct applications close for Newstep, Open Foundation and Yapug – Wednesday 31 January 2018

Orientation dates – these dates are proposed (subject to confirmation of room availability)

Open FoundationWed 14 February (2pm and 5:30pm)Thurs 15 February 5.30pm
YapugWed 14 February 10am 
NewstepFriday 16 February 10amThurs 15 February 10am

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Work Health & Safety

  • There is a focus on mental health training 2018, including a new course, the 'Accidental Counsellor'. Staff are encouraged to attend as part of professional development.
  • Health & Safety induction reminder emails have been sent to relevant staff. If staff do not complete the module an email is sent as a reminder to their supervisor.

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The next Newsletter will be published in February 2018. Wishing one and all a safe and happy break!  

Items for the ELFSC Link Newsletter are always welcome. The newsletter is published early each month, with items due 2 weeks prior to publication.  Please forward any items to Jenny Williams, Maureen Jones or Leah Hill.