February 2016 Newsletter

Director's message; Staff News; Awards and accolades; Story Box; eLAMP; UON Prep; Prior Enabling Offers; For the Diary; Foundation Studies PD Day; Research Grant Success

Research Newsletter

For all the latest news on research in the centre please read the Research Newsletter

A message from the Director (15 Dec 2015)

Ibtihal Samarayi

The Centre said farewell to our beloved staff member, Ibtihal Samarayi in December, after a short and private illness. An obituary for Ibtihal Samarayi will be published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 6 February 2016. A message from the Director (as sent to Centre staff on 15 December) is reproduced here.

Ibtihal Samarayi

Dear Colleagues 

It is with much regret that I inform you of the passing of our esteemed colleague Ibtihal Samarayi. I am aware that this may come as shock to many of you, but although Ibtihal has been ill for some time, Ibtihal wanted it to be kept confidential, so she could carry on with the job that she so loved.  As you know Ibtihal, although based at Ourimbah, was our Lecturer in Visual Arts on both Ourimbah and Callaghan campuses.  Ibtihal was a wonderful teacher, she had that great ability to draw out from each student their latent visual arts ability and by the end of the course she engendered a great love of the arts. Her pride and joy was the end of year exhibitions where students had an opportunity to display their work and this is where Ibtihal was at her happiest, affirming the students' great work. Just this month she discharged herself from hospital so she could attend the exhibition at Ourimbah. She was a great ambassador for the University on the Coast, every year she received numerous invitations to talk about her life and works and never turned down these invitations.  She completed her undergraduate and post graduate degrees at the Central Coast Campus and was extremely proud when she was chosen as one of the 25 graduates to represent the University at the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Central Coast Campus. She won numerous national and local awards and was very devoted to her beloved Sadraddin and her two beautiful sons Mustafa and Deyar.  Ibtihal was passionate about refugee issues and her own amazing journey from Iraq as a refugee during the Gulf War in 1991 is inspiring and is ably told in her fascinating book Refugee to Resident. Ibtihal was extremely generous with her time and resources and a few years ago she gifted one of her beautiful paintings to the Centre and it is on display in the Meeting room in the Language Centre.

Ibtihal embodied the enabling philosophy of our Centre and she will be greatly missed by her colleagues and students.  We are still unsure of the funeral arrangements but if Islamic custom is followed it could be some time to-day or tomorrow.  We will keep you informed.  I would like to say a special thanks to Rosalie Bunn who has been a long-time friend of Ibtihal and has greatly assisted her during her illness and kept us up to date with developments. 

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Staffing News

The Director will be on leave from 12 to 28 February.  Dr David Powter will be Acting Director during this period.

The Centre welcomes a number of new staff in 2016, and wishes two others a happy and long retirement. Please read more below.

New academic appointments

As you are probably aware towards the end of last year we conducted a series of interviews for vacant positions in the Open Foundation Program and I am pleased to announce the outcomes of these interviews.

The successful applicant for O.6 Lecturer Level A position in Business and Management (Ourimbah) is Dr Annika Westrenius. Annika is well known to us in the Centre having recently completed her PhD and she has taught both for ELFS and the Faculty of Business and Law for a number of years.  Annika is a committed staff member who brings a rare insight into enabling education having started her education journey in our enabling programs. 

The successful applicant for 1.0 Level B position in Physics (Callaghan) is Dr Heath Jones. Heath has a strong research record in his field of astrophysics, and has taught physics at both Monash and Macquarie universities, and in the last few years has done a lot of work in the area of STEM education.  We are all looking forward to working with Heath.

The successful applicant for 1.0 Level B position in Humanities (Callaghan) is Dr Emma Hamilton.  Over the last few years Emma has taught History at undergraduate level as well as Australian History in our Open Foundation program at Ourimbah. Emma is passionate about enabling programs and we are all looking forward to working with her.

We have not yet appointed a person to the Maths Level A position at Callaghan but we hope to do so soon.

Our newly appointed staff started in their roles on 18 January 2016.

Other appointments

Marketing Officer - in July 2015 Angela Henderson our Marketing Officer took a secondment to GradSchool.  Angela has been offered and accepted an ongoing position with GradSchool.  I would like to take the opportunity to thank Angela for her great contribution to the marketing of all our programs.  Angela was our first Marketing Officer and did a great job in professionalising our marketing efforts especially in the digital space.  Over the 7 years Angela worked for us she also did a wonderful job marketing our ELICOS programs in Australia and overseas.  On behalf of the Centre I would like to thank Angela for the great work she has done for the ELFS Centre and wish her well in her role at GradSchool.

As you know Tim Hyde was seconded from the Faculty of Health and Medicine to replace Angela, and I am pleased to advise you that Tim has agreed to take up the permanent position vacated by Angela's move to GradSchool.  We are all looking forward to continuing our good work with Tim.

Foundation Studies Office new staff member - the Centre welcomes Chelsea Trimble to the Foundation Studies Office at Callaghan.  Chelsea commenced in January, having previously worked at the City campus in the Faculty of Business and Law.

Elizabeth Bridges – the Centre welcomes Elizabeth Bridges to a new role in 2016.  Elizabeth's role is Manager of Student Communication. This is a HEPP funded position for 2016 only. The Centre is rolling out a "just in time" communication strategy for all enabling students in 2016 (on campus and online students).  It is hoped that this will enhance the retention of students especially students from under- represented backgrounds. This strategy will employ multiple channels of communication with our students, across the student life cycle.  Elizabeth will have overall responsibility for development and delivery of this strategy.

Student Academic Conduct Officer (SACO) appointment – following the recent retirement of Susan West, Dr Bronwyn Relf has been appointed as the new SACO for the Centre.

Helen Fitzgerald

Helen Fitzgerald, the ELICOS Convenor at Callaghan, has decided to retire as of the 29 February this year.  Helen has had a long and fruitful association with the Language Centre in its many iterations, she commenced work with the HIHE English Language Centre in 1989 just before the amalgamation of the Hunter Institute and the University.  Helen was one of the first teachers employed by the Centre and in 1992 she was appointed Head Teacher and over the last 26 years she has served as ELICOS Head Teacher, ELICOS Co-ordinator and of late ELICOS Convenor and for a number of years Helen was also the Centre's IELTS Administrator.

A whole of Centre Farewell is planned to farewell Helen on Friday 4 March, venue and time to be advised

While we look for a permanent replacement for Helen, the following arrangements will be in place from 1 March:

Janielle Wilson –Acting Convenor, ELICOS Callaghan

Sue Hodgson- Acting Deputy Convenor, ELICOS Callaghan 

Kevin Walliss

Kevin Walliss retired from his ongoing role on 29 January 2016, but will thankfully remain with us in a casual capacity. 

Kevin first started working in the Newstep program in 2007 as a casual teacher.  He has made an outstanding contribution to the program, and the Centre as a whole, since that time.  He is a passionate educator with a very strong student focus.  His genuine concern for the students and the educational outcomes of the program are second to none and he has used this to enhance the courses he has taught as well as the overall student experience.  He has a natural ability to relate to his students and quickly builds rapport with them, often extending beyond the duration of their time in ELFSC.  

Fortunately Kevin will continue utilising his unique talents in Newstep in a casual capacity, but we wish him well for this new phase in his life and, no doubt, the ability to spend ever more time with his grandchild.

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Awards and Accolades

Sue Hodgson

received the ELFSC Award for Excellencein Teaching and Learning for International Seamus with Sue Hodgson receiving AwardPrograms. Sue was presented with her award at the Centre's Christmas Party in December.

Sue has developed innovative online resources to motivate and assist ELICOS students to develop the skills they need for university study.  The judging panel commented on how Sue used  Audacity to target speech intelligibility and how it enabled ELICOS students to visualise speech patterns as well as receiving appropriate self-feedback. Sue also developed online Reading logs, using discussion board on Blackboard which provided  students with a forum to share what they are reading. The panel was also impressed by Sue's willingness to share these useful resources with colleagues and also how she shared these resources with centres around Australia at national professional development events. 

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Grant Success

Congratulations to Centre Staff on successfully gaining funding through the OLT and HEPP National Priority Pool. Read more in the Research Newsletter.

ELFSC staff and former staff - Storybox

Over the last few weeks a number of past and present ELFS staff have been featured on ABC's 1233 "Storybox" segment.  A few weeks ago the former Deputy Director, Keryl Kavanagh was featured on the program and over the last few days 2 staff from the Language Centre, Lesley Edwards and Belinda Brand have been featured on the program. We work with a number of celebrities in the Centre!

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Congratulations to Helen Cameron and Lynette Dennis on the successful completion of the 2015 Emerging Leaders and Managers Program (eLAMP). Developed by the LH Martin Institute in conjunction with the Association for Tertiary Education Management (ATEM), this year-long program aims to enhance the leadership capability of our staff to deliver on NeW Futures in the current and rapidly changing tertiary education environment. 

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UON Prep 2016

The 2016 UON Prep summer courses started recently. Courses run across three weeks leading up to the beginning of semester.

As of Tuesday 2 February there are 1189 on campus registrations distributed across 61 short courses as well as 586 registrations in the online courses. 


On Campus:
Callaghan, Ourimbah, Port Macquarie
ASSO: Academic Survival Skills   
SLMO: Secret Life of Matter
EN: Essential Numeracy


Feedback from students who have completed the UON Prep Courses is always very positive and the data indicates that students who complete UON Prep courses have higher retention rates and a more successful first year in their undergraduate study.

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2016 Prior Enabling Offers

There were 1126 domestic enabling students who received an undergraduate offer to the University of Newcastle in 2016.  These were students who completed Yapug, Newstep or Open Foundation in 2015.

A change in application process was initiated for this cohort of students.  For the first time students were not required to apply through UAC for admission to an undergraduate degree at UON, unless applying for Medicine or Midwifery.  Students were able to submit an application directly to UON, which mirrored the UAC process with slight variation.  There was no application fee for this new process.  A large proportion of these students received their undergraduate offer prior to Christmas, rather than having to wait for the usual UAC main round of offers in late January.  A subsequent round of offers was made in early January. These figures are as at 29 January 2016. 


FacultyNo. of offers to enabling students
Faculty of Business and Law81
Education and Arts303
Engineering and Built Environment121
Health and Medicine321
Science and Information Technology298
Wollotuka Institute  2
Total Offers1126

Please note: these are for offers only, not acceptances. These figures are as at 29 January 2016.

In the next newsletter we will include further data on actual acceptances at UON (by program) and known offers to undergraduate programs at other Universities. 

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For the Diary 


Callaghan – Wednesday 10 February – Yapug (9.30-1pm), Newstep 10am-1pm, Open Foundation (2pm to 5pm and 5.30 to 8.30pm)

Ourimbah –Friday 12 February - Newstep (10am-1pm)

Ourimbah - Saturday 13 February – Open Foundation (10am to 1pm)

Recognition of Attainment Ceremony (ROAC)

CallaghanThursday 7 April (6pm) 

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Foundation Studies Professional Development Day 

Dr Dave Powter, Acting Deputy Director (Teaching and Learning) hosted a Professional Development event for foundation studies academics and teachers on 29 January.  Over 40 staff attended the event on the Callaghan Campus, with a comprehensive program covering a range topics including, the "Just in Time" student communication model, curriculum development and review matters, semesterisation of courses and some Blackboard initiatives. Staff were also briefed on admissions, disability support and assessment, as well as engagement and retention developments across UON.

Staff PD Day Jan 2016

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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 or queries to Jenny Williams, Leah Hill or Maureen Jones.