As we approach the end of the year 2020, it is important to look back and reflect upon what has been an exceptional year of stress and anxiety with the impact of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. The pandemic causing severe illness and death of so many has impacted the health, relationships, and well-being of infants and parents. Restrictions have been placed upon family and professional supports and services for mothers, babies, and fathers. Whole communities are experiencing job loss, financial insecurity, and social upheaval. This means we must build our information base and be even more insistent and creative in how we advocate for the needs of the infant within the family. Colleagues from the UK, USA, Poland, Turkey, the Netherlands, and Australia have initiated one of several surveys on the impact of the pandemic upon children 0 to 4 years. Colleagues from the Queensland Children’s Hospital, Australia, are taking the lead in this project (https://www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/covid-19-unmasked/). We welcome news of other projects looking at the impact of the pandemic on infants and families.
This year was to have been 40 years since the first Congress in Cascais, Portugal, but now our Congress will be June 23-27, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. Each Congress, held in a different country, has had its own unique features, and the Brisbane Congress will be no exception.
This congress will be a “hybrid” one, with an innovative mixture of in-person, COVID-19-safe presentations in Brisbane, and live virtual symposia and presentations through online media. In addition, most events will be video-recorded, and congress participants will be able to view these for some time after the event and exchange ideas and comment through “chat”. This means that effectively everybody has ready access to the work of their colleagues, as you will have an opportunity to review most of the sessions at your leisure. We will have a rich cultural and arts program, and sessions particularly pertinent to Oceania and Asia.
The new crises in mental health present challenges for all world governments and there are public policy changes that must be addressed to meet the needs of all our babies. Infant’s rights must be identified and upheld.
We will have plenty of opportunities for people across the world to meet in small groups through zoom to discuss the plenary, symposia, and other presentations, and meet with some of the thought leaders in our field. Our important prominent plenary speakers include Prof Helen Milroy from the University of Western Australia who will share crucial understandings about the resilience of Australian Aboriginal cultures in supporting infants and young children within families and community. There is more news about the plenary and other speakers on the Congress website. With the amazing revolution in opportunity for us to meet in real-time using virtual media, we anticipate an even larger number of people participating in the Congress than those who attended in person the Congress in Rome.
Please take care and keep safe, care well for yourselves, your families, and colleagues in these troubled times. We look forward to seeing you in person or in virtual reality in June next year.
Associate Professor Campbell Paul, Melbourne, Australia
President of WAIMH