English Australia Lifetime Achievement Award

2016 Award Winner

Seamus Fagan receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from English Australia Chair Marc Weedon-Newstead

In 2016, English Australia conferred its Lifetime Achievement Award to Seamus Fagan.

Seamus Fagan has dedicated 37 years to the international education sector, and to ELICOS in particular, over and above his full-time positions at two regional English language institutes: In 1989 he established the Language Centre at Central Queensland University, Rockhampton and was Director 1989-1996; and from 1996 he has held the position of Director of the Language Centre and subsequently Director of the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre at the University of Newcastle.

Seamus’ contribution to English Australia formally commenced in 1993 and followed with 17 years’ service on the English Australia Council/Board, serving as Qld State Delegate and then General Delegate on the Council of the ELICOS Association, operating nationally as English Australia since 2000. For his last ten years of involvement with the Council of English Australia, Seamus was elected Deputy Chair for a period of 4 years; and was Chair of English Australia 2004 – 2010.

Seamus’ involvement with English Australia was over a period during which time ELICOS enrolments grew from 20,000 students to 160,000 in number. Throughout this time and in his various roles with English Australia, Seamus played a central and highly participatory role in ensuring English Australia had an active place in high-level industry and legislative consultative processes, including consultation with the development of the ESOS Act and its subsequent reviews, with GISC (Government Industry Stakeholder Consultation), DEEWR, DIAC and the Baird Review. Seamus was highly proactive in his involvement in the annual English Australia Conference over many years

Seamus served on the Board of NEAS as the English Australia representative for 4 years in the early 2000s and has been on the Board of NEAS further for the last 4 years. He has been involved with UECA since early 1990s with long serving roles on the Executive of UECA. Seamus also represented the interests of ELICOS on the Board of International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) 2007 – 2011.

It is through his passion and dedication for the sector that Seamus has contributed so much of his personal time to each of these important committees. He is regularly invited to speak at national and international conferences and forums and his willingness to share best practice and strive for high standards across the sector is a trademark of his character.

It is this character end expertise that has led to him being called upon for many sector based roles and since 2007 Seamus has been invited annually by the Government Department of Education and Training (DET) to serve as a member of the selection panel for the Endeavour Awards and has been a regular member of the assessment panel for the ALTC Australian Awards for University Teaching, as well as an assessor for Fellowship nominations in the disciplines of ELT and international education.

Beyond all these professional commitments throughout his career, Seamus has supported and mentored a significant number of professional administrators, teachers and trainers in the international education sector, including previous Chairs of English Australia. Seamus's broad personal and professional experience in the industry means he is often sought out by staff and colleagues for advice and direction.


2015 Award Winner

In September 2015, Sue Blundell retired after 13 years as Executive Director of English Australia.  Sue has worked in the ELICOS industry for over 30 years. When she was appointed to the role of Executive Director in 2002 she brought with her an intimate knowledge of how English language centres operate – she had been a teacher, teacher trainer, Director of Studies, Marketing Director and General Manager.


                         Sue Blundell receives her award from English Australia Chair, Marc Weedon-Newstead 


Sue came to role with broader industry insights which she had gained as a member of the Council of English Australia (as the Board was then known). With this experience, together with her passion for our industry, she was ideally placed to gain the trust and support of the membership of English Australia and to work collaboratively with the Board to take English Australia to a new level of professionalism. One of Sue’s early initiatives was to engage directly with the members of English Australia at every possible opportunity in order to fully understand how English Australia could best represent and support them.

One of the key functions of Sue’s job has been to represent English Australia in order to achieve the strategic goals of the association. Over the years Sue evolved in her role as Executive Director. She developed the skills of a consummate advocate and in so doing became increasingly more sophisticated in her use of statistics to support her positions and to inform us all about the industry that we work in. At the same time Sue cultivated a wide network of collaborators amongst the various stakeholders within international education – industry bodies, agencies of government and others. Her collegiate approach has enabled English Australia to play a more influential role as the voice of our industry. Sue’s collaborations go beyond the Australian context – having been the Convenor of GAELA, the association of language associations worldwide, she has been able to contribute in wider, international sphere of influence.

Sue’s achievements have not been confined to just the political aspects of her role. During her 13 years as Executive Director she has overseen the evolution of English Australia’s focus on quality, communication and professional development. She has facilitated innovations which we now see as business as usual activities such the Action Research Program, as well as the production of the Best Practice Guides and the ELT Barometer student survey.

Other initiatives, such as the use of industry Scenario Planning, illustrate what has perhaps been her greatest contribution, which has been to ensure that English Australia is positioned as a thought leader within the wider international education community and to facilitate better understanding of the fundamental role that ELICOS plays overall in the Australian international education industry. Recognition of her contribution in this respect is exemplified by Sue having been invited to serve as one of the six industry experts on the newly created Coordinating Council for International Education alongside six Ministers from the key portfolios.

Sue has also been recognised by others organisations as well and in 2011 Sue received the IEAA Award for Excellence in Leadership and in August 2015, Sue received the Study travel Outstanding Achievement Award.



Inaugural Award Winner

In 2010, a special award was inaugurated specifically to recognise a true pioneer and shining star of the ELICOS industry in Australia.

The English Australia Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding service to the ELICOS industry was presented to Christine Bundesen, Director of the Institute of Continuing and TESOL Education, University of Queensland (ICTE-UQ), by outgoing Chair of English Australia, Seamus Fagan, at the English Australia Conference gala dinner on 17 September 2010.


Christine Bundesen receives her awardChristine Bundesen receives her award from English Australia Chair, Seamus Fagan


Christine received her MA from the University of Manitoba, Canada, in 1982 and on her return to Australia she was appointed to what is now the Institute of Continuing and TESOL Education at the University of Queensland (ICTE-UQ) which commenced with three students in 1981. The Institute now boasts the delivery of a variety of programs to thousands of students each year.

That same year Christine, along with five others, established an informal group of ELICOS providers which became the ELICOS Association in 1983 (and subsequently English Australia). Six years later Christine played a major role in the association’s incorporation in 1990 and for the first ten years served as Chair of English Australia, having served as Convenor for the two years prior to that. Christine has continued to serve as a General Delegate of the English Australia Council until the present day.

Christine has played a major role throughout her career in developing, furthering and promoting ELICOS within and outside Australia, and within and outside the sector. She was instrumental in changing the name of the ELICOS Association to English Australia in 2000 (promptly followed by English UK, English South Africa and English NZ!). She was a key player in the international education negotiations with the Australian federal government for the first ESOS Act. When the federal government washed its hands of the sector in response to unethical behaviour by some colleges during the China Crisis of 1991, Christine took a couple of weeks off work and drafted the standards for what is now known as the National ELT Accreditation Scheme (NEAS).

Christine has served on the boards of IDP Education Australia and IELTS Australia, and was also on the inaugural AIEF (renamed as AEI) Board. She was Member and inaugural Chairperson of the University of Cambridge ESOL Teaching Awards Advisory Council from 1996 to 2006.

She has been a member of the GISC (Government Industry Stakeholder Consultation) DEEWR/DIAC group 1996-2010; the DEEWR/AESOC Transnational Quality Strategy (TQS) Reference and Working Groups 2005-2008; the Queensland DIAC Client Reference Group (CRG) 2006-2010; the Cambridge ESOL Australia Advisory Group 2009-2010; and the English Australia /Cambridge ESOL Action Research Program Reference Group.

Christine has previously been recognised for her services to Australian international education. In 1997 she was presented with the inaugural National Award for Outstanding Contribution to Leadership in International Education by IDP Education Australia. In 2003 Christine was awarded an Australian Prime Minister’s Award of a Centenary Medal for her “Work to Reform Overseas Student Visa Programs and Teaching of English to Overseas Students”.


About the Award

The English Australia Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding service to the ELICOS industry is initiated by the English Australia Board and is not an annual award.

The criteria for selecting a recipient for this award are as follows:

Winners of the prestigious English Australia Lifetime Achievement Award have contributed to the ELICOS sector in the following ways:

  • Service on ELICOS-related Boards;
  • Advocacy on behalf of the ELICOS sector for government stakeholder consultation processes;
  • Participation in sector-based roles which go above and beyond one’s own responsibilities in their own institution;
  • Collaboration within the ELICOS sector;
  • Service in leadership positions within their own institution - considered a formidable leader.


In addition to the above contributions, winners of the Award for Lifetime Achievement possess the following personal qualities:

  • A level of expertise which is sought-after by others in the industry;
  • Ackowledged as an authority within the ELICOS sector;
  • Broad professional experience within ELICOS and a successful position working in ELICOS institutions over an extended period of time;
  • Passion for the ELICOS sector. 


All Lifetime Achievement Award winners receive free registration for future English Australia Conferences.

For more information or to recommend someone for nomination for this award, contact the English Australia Professional Development Manager, Sophie O'Keefe, at sophieokeefe@englishaustralia.com.au.