The CISWA WA International Education Program of the Year Award recognises the work of an individual or team in a Western Australian education institution that has contributed to the welfare or support of international students. For example, communication support programs, pathways initiatives, or social inclusion activities.

Additional weight is given to any activities which promote interaction with Australian students, with the local community or help students settle into life in Australia.

2023 WA International Education Program of the Year Award winner is Curtin University’s Program: “Café Connect: Fostering Community and Support for International Students”

This award is sponsored by Medibank and the winner is presented with a certificate, trophy and $500 prize money.


Eligibility Criteria

  • An individual or a team who is a current financial CISWA member.
  • Institutions must be a registered CRICOS provider.
  • Unsuccessful nominees may be re-nominated in subsequent years.

This award is proudly sponsored by

2023 Winner: Café Connect Program at Curtin University

Jason Elias (right), Head of Partnerships and Sales, Overseas Portfolio at Medibank presented the WA International Education Program of the Year Award to (from left) Yaprak Janicke, Student Experience Coordinator (Global Curtin), Beata Larcombe (Curtin Connect) and Lui Lee, Student Experience Coordinator (Global Curtin) on behalf of the teams involved in this program.

Café Connect is the 2023 WA INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAM OF THE YEAR, and the award was presented by Jason Elias, Head of Partnerships and Sales, Overseas Portfolio at Medibank along with a prize of $500 to put towards the program’s ongoing success

Lui Lee, Yaprak Janicke, and Beata Larcombe accepted the Award on behalf of the teams involved.

The collaborative approach involving Curtin Connect, Student Success, and Global Curtin enhances program effectiveness and widens its reach.

Café Connect is a weekly initiative at Curtin University designed to facilitate connections among international students, provide insights into university services, and create a supportive environment. The program has seen significant growth, evolving from 10-20 attendees in the first semester to 30-100 in the second semester of 2023.

Key Initiatives Include:

  1. Indigenous Engagement: Activities such as rock painting aim to increase awareness and engagement with Indigenous culture.
  2. Staff Interaction: University staff present services and engage with students, fostering connections and providing information.
  3. Inclusion of Past Attendees: Students share their experiences, offering insights into using showcased services.
  4. Mixed Format: Sessions vary based on content and service availability, including mini fairs where students can explore different services.
  5. Concept Checking and Engagement: Interactive elements such as Q&A sessions with prizes enhance student participation.
  6. Friendship Opportunities: Dedicated time is allocated for students to make friends through activities like People Bingo and casual mingling.

Program Evolution:

  • Café Connect began with 10-20 attendees, growing to 30-100 in the second semester of 2023.
  • Positive feedback indicates increased awareness and usage of university services after featuring in Café Connect sessions.

Diverse Participant Base:

  • While primarily aimed at first-year students, transnational students from partner universities or global campuses also find value in connecting at Café Connect.
  • The program addresses the challenge of establishing connections for students entering a university with established social networks.

Collaborative Approach:

  • Café Connect involves collaboration between Curtin Connect, Student Success, and Global Curtin teams, breaking down silos and offering a unified program.
  • The collaborative effort leads to a more sustainable and seamless program, reaching a wider target audience.

Positive Impact:

  • Both staff and students benefit from the program, fostering connections in a casual environment.
  • Collaborations with other universities, such as ECU, contribute to ongoing improvements and shared insights.

Café Connect stands as a successful model for building a sense of community, facilitating student-staff connections, and addressing the diverse needs of Curtin University’s international student population.