Dear WAIMH Members,
As the challenges, uncertainties and opportunities of this year continue, I am writing to provide an update on the progress we are making toward hosting WAIMH 2021 in Brisbane next June.
As this year has progressed, many other organisations and conferences have faced the same challenges that we are facing and many have adopted a fully virtual conference platform. For international conferences that has the added challenge of planning across 3 key time zones. The advantage we have is that we can observe, participate in, and share knowledge and experiences with those who are going before us in this unchartered space of virtual conferencing. Already we have gleamed a lot and our Professional Conference Organiser, ICMSA is well placed to develop and draw on experiences in this space.
After extensive discussion, a decision has been made to hold a hybrid Congress in Brisbane. This hybrid Congress will have a significant virtual component complementing a smaller face-to-face Congress at the Convention Centre in Brisbane. While information and experience about planning a fully virtual conference platform is growing, hybrid conference models have been very limited and so we have the challenge of creating something very new for this WAIMH Congress. This is exiting as it provides an opportunity to create a congress template that WAIMH may be able to use in the future, allowing its congresses to engage with a much wider audience.
We will scope the experience of others and already many concepts for sharing knowledge, mentoring, debate, and reflection and creating social connectedness in the virtual space are emerging. Other conferences are incorporating prerecorded sessions followed by live discussions, synchronous and asynchronous sessions, special interest group meetings, social mixers, live debates and demonstrations, conversations and consultations, regional meetings and experiences, global ambassadors and connections, and a variety of other networking opportunities. We will be scoping many possibilities over the next few months and would welcome any ideas or experiences you can share from attending events in the virtual space. Please share your ideas by contacting our conference organiser via the Congress website.
Additionally, our field of practice is fundamentally embedded in relationship and the WAIMH Congress has provided a space for us to come together, not only to share knowledge and practice wisdom but also to spend time together, strengthen relationships and build new ones. This provides a richness to our Congress experience that is one of its intangible benefits. The challenge for the Congress in Brisbane in 2021 is how can we incorporate this social connectedness into a virtual space and continue to nurture this relational component of our Congress.
The Program Committee, chaired by Professor David Oppenheim, have already put together a rich program for us, which will only be enhanced by the additional Call for Abstracts. Building on this wonderful scientific program, we are hoping to provide you with a program of cultural activities to enhance your Congress experience despite the challenges we are facing. We are currently revising the registration fees to include a virtual component and encourage you when this is available to register and become part of a cutting-edge conference experience.
We are unable to predict what 2021 will bring, but we would encourage you to put the Congress dates in your diaries and quarantine these dates so that you can actively participate and immerse yourselves in the Congress experience, as if you were attending in person. We are excited to embrace this new opportunity for global connection and look forward to meeting with you at the WAIMH 2021 Congress in Brisbane.
Elisabeth Hoehn, Brisbane, Australia Co-Chair, WAIMH 2021 Local Organising Committee