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Reflection on 2021 Festival - Ben Canny

3 Nov 2021 2:28 PM | Jill Romeo (Administrator)

The year 2021 continues to throw challenges at us all, and no more so in the sustenance of principal academic activities, such as the conduct of Conferences.  After cancelling our conference in 2020, ANZAHPE was keen to ensure that members had an opportunity to share their efforts in scholarship through a conference in 2021.  An early decision was taken to conduct the conference fully online, though at the time we were all hopefully of enhanced freedoms by July 2021.  Then Delta dawned, and, via the retrospectoscope, the wisdom of the original decision was vindicated.

The conference was renamed “the Festival” in recognition of the fact that it was going to be quite different from a normal ANZAHPE Conference.  We may not have had as much “Festival” as we may have liked, but we ended up with a 4-day conference, held across the middle of the day, to enable participants from WA to New Zealand, with 3 Keynote Speakers, 5 workshops/symposia, 20 PeArLS, and 215 “free communications” in the themes of Interprofessional Learning, Educational Technology, Professionalism Culture and Welfare, Assessment.  We had 350 registrants, drawn from across Australasia, with a smattering of contributors from the Region, and North America and Europe.

Highlights include excellent Keynote speakers including Dr Rhys Jones, University of Auckland, on “Moving backwards into the future: Indigenising the health professional curriculum”; Prof Karen Mattick, University of Exeter, on “Probability, Complexity and Ambiguity”, and Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM, Queensland Health on “Why we need to create the social leaders of tomorrow.“  All provoked our thinking, were well received and generated much positive feedback.  Additional highlights included joint workshops with AMEE and IAMSE, where speakers representing ANZAHPE and our relevant partners were able to contribute. 

In general, the Festival was a success with respondents to a post-conference survey positive about their experiences and the general format that was followed.  There is much to be learned from an event such as this, and I am confident ANZAHPE will take the experience forward to provide newer and better events in the future.  Not everything worked and the reintroduction of posters was a noted request from many respondents.  In addition, we know that conferences are about networking, and it isn’t the same via Zoom!!!

The Festival and the Association were supported by a range of loyal and generous sponsors.  These were Australian Medicines Handbook - Platinum Sponsor, Altus Assessments - Vendor Presentation Gold Package, AMBOSS - Vendor Presentation Gold Package, Lecturio GmbH / Inc - Vendor Presentation Gold Package, Fry It - Silver Sponsorship Package, Australian Medical Council - Silver Sponsorship Package.  In addition, the support we received from our Professional Conference Organiser, EventStudio, in one of their first events since being forming from Plevin and Associates was outstanding.  Technical support from Touch Point was also fantastic, and our worst fears were not realised.

Finally, it takes a team to do any of this, and the “crew” of Megan Anakin, Julie Ash, Jo Bishop, Jill Romeo, Pavla Simerska, Dale Sheehan and Joanna Tai were an absolute delight to work with.  The Festival abstracts can be found at:

Ben Canny

ANZAHPE Festival 2021 Lead 


P O Box 852,
Renmark, SA  5341  Australia
Telephone: +61 478 313 123
ANZAHPE Executive Officer:
ANZAHPE Administration:

President: A/Prof Jo Bishop

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