I am honoured to announce that I was the recipient of an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) on January 26th 2024 for my ongoing contribution to strengthening education links between Australia and ASEAN.

In 1987 with colleague Philip Porter, I was co-founder and managing director of Insearch Language Centre at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Insearch was the first public /private partnership in Australian international education and a leader in international education pathways, including in IELTS preparation and testing. During the 1990’s I led the establishment of Australia Centres in Medan, North Sumatra Indonesia, and Chiang Mai Thailand. The model was providing education, language, government, and arts/cultural services under the one roof. This year Australia Centre Medan celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Insearch became more closely aligned with the university as UTS College and continues its regional and global reputation for best practice in international education with quality assurance in the DNA of the organisation. UTS kindly awarded me UTS Honorary Fellow in 2000. I have spent the last 2 decades working on Australia ASEAN education strategy, including as a director at advisory firm ASEAN Focus Group (AFG VG).
Indonesia is a country of special interest, including contributing to the work of the Australia Indonesia Business Council on the NSW Committee as well as the AIBC National Board 2015-2019. This coincided with negotiations around the development of the Indonesia Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA). I am currently the inaugural Chair of the AIBC Education and Training Industry Group.

In 2017 with initial seed funding from DFAT’s Australia ASEAN Council and support from Roger Bendall and Australian Alumnus Thomson Ch’ng, I convened the 2018 ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue (AAED) as a face-to-face event in Penang Malaysia and again in UNESCO world heritage Georgetown, Penang in 2019.

AAED is an important building block to engage with the education sector peak body architecture of ASEAN, in particular the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN University Network (AUN). In November 2023 after arranging previous scoping study visits to Australia for AUN, I was appointed as a special advisor to the AUN Executive Director Dr Choltis Dhirathiti. This role is helping align ASEAN and Australian peak bodies including the National ELT Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) and Universities Australia.

AUN will play a key role at the Australia ASEAN Special anniversary summit to be convened by PM Anthony Albanese and FM Penny Wong in Melbourne March 1-5 2024 just after the Universities Australia Annual Conference and just before the Perth APAIE Conference.

Michael Fay
Director – Education Services AFG Venture Group