By Professor Don Byrne FAPS, Conference Chair

- IP-Dec2011-DonByrnelBetween 4 and 8 October 2011, nearly 700 psychologists from around Australia and beyond met in Canberra for the 46th Annual Conference of the Australian Psychological Society. The long tradition of these annual meetings of the Society – where Australian psychologists join together to share knowledge and refresh professional practice – was once more fully and enthusiastically honoured in this meeting.

The theme of the Conference was From Theory, Through Evidence, To Practice. It did, of course, seem to many to be self-evident that this dictum clearly characterised the profession of psychology. The Scientific Committee believed, however, that it was particularly appropriate at this time – as such professional landmarks as national registration and the availability of Medicare rebates become a part of our lives – to re-emphasise our commitment as professional psychologists to the need to be guided by the science underlying our profession.

And the Conference provided science aplenty – and in excellent form. We were privileged to have a number of distinguished scientists both from Australia and abroad join us for the meeting. Our two international keynote speakers, Professor Kelly Brownell (Yale University) and Professor Krzysztof Kaniasty (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) shared with us an absolute wealth of knowledge – Kelly on societally-based measures to control obesity, and Kryz on the importance of social support following natural disasters. Both addressed key and contemporary issues for Australian society, both highlighted the role of psychological science in achieving practical goals – and both attracted significant press attention across the country. In fact, the Conference overall generated over 130 press stories presented in various media forms – outstanding publicity for the importance of psychology in Australia.

The work of some distinguished Australian psychologists was also able to be showcased during the Conference. Professor Barbara Gillam presented a keynote address on receiving the 2010 APS Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, and Professor Norman Feather also delivered a keynote in the form of his 2011 Fellows Address. Both Barbara and Norm are synonymous with excellence in Australian psychological research and their contributions were received with great acclaim. Professor Alfred Allan received the 2010 APS President’s Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology, with his keynote addressing the issue of dignity in dealing with people and peoples – something psychologists must always remain aware of. And Dr Stephen Provost, who received the 2010 Distinguished Contribution to Education Award, covered the central topic of how psychology is taught – and should be taught – in Australian universities.

These outstanding scientific contributions established a vibrant intellectual backdrop for the Conference. The real life of any meeting of this kind, however, comes from the participation of the delegates. The 46th Annual Conference featured the presentation of several hundred papers and posters, many symposia and professional practice sessions, and a number of superb practical workshops allowing the honing of professional skills against the knowledge of master practitioners. The atmosphere was exciting and highly engaged.

Groups deep in discussion emerged from all paper sessions; small collections of delegates coalesced in the foyer of the Convention Centre, obviously debating and sharing information fresh from presentations. The opportunities to network and form new research or practice collaborations, or simply to share ideas and opinions about psychology over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, were abundant – and it was clear that delegates used these opportunities to real advantage. And that, in a real sense, is as much what a successful conference is about as it is the more formal proceedings and presentations. To that end then, the APS Conference fully achieved its goals and can be considered a true success.

And people had fun. The Welcome Reception at the National Convention Centre, during which the new APS logo was unveiled, got delegates together for the first time and commenced the crucial process of networking. This was followed up the next evening by the Networking Dinner at the Rydges Hotel Capital Hill. The conversation was wonderful, the movement between tables allowed a great sharing of ideas, and the President’s party games at the end – well, enough said! And the grand Conference Dinner at Old Parliament House – drinks in Kings Hall and dinner in the Members Dining Room – was a splendid formal affair, with dancing well into the night.

Success is, of course, dependent on the combined and integrated efforts of many people – and the ‘behind the scenes’ help of many more. The Scientific Committee performed brilliantly, organising a program of both breadth and depth, and ensuring the scientific and professional integrity of the Conference. The Conference Secretariat at the APS worked equally flawlessly to make sure that the program the Scientific Committee constructed was able to take shape – and to be implemented – in a thoroughly organised way. A superb team all round. And our sponsors too, who saw the need for financial and other support in putting such an event together, must be sincerely thanked.

So the 46th Annual APS Conference has concluded – and a very successful meeting it was. We are all now looking forward with great anticipation to the 2012 Annual Conference in Perth. 

APS CONFERENCE IN THE MEDIA

The APS Annual Conference was an outstanding success in media terms. Media monitoring shows at least 130 media items about the Conference appeared (6 TV, 56 print, 27 radio and 41 online), reaching an estimated audience of more than
5.7 million people (full audience figures for the online coverage is  not available).

Key messages about psychologists and their contribution to the community were delivered through a diverse range of media stories across more than 20 different topics from obesity and disaster recovery to Indigenous wellbeing and youth mental health. In addition, references to the Conference helped to position it as one of the premier psychology events of the year. As the host organisation, the APS received significant promotion and its position as a source of credible evidence-based information was emphasised to both journalists and the wider community.

Media highlights

  • The US keynote speaker, Professor Kelly Brownell, who presented on obesity, featured in an ABC TV news story that was syndicated nationally on the evening news on 4 October and the morning news broadcasts the next day. This story also included interviews with Associate Professor Lina Ricciardelli FAPS (on body image) and Dr Elizabeth Rieger MAPS (on weight).
  • Three of the Conference stories were written up by journalists from the Australian Associated Press (AAP) and distributed on the AAP newswire, where they were picked up by a range of outlets online and in print, greatly increasing their distribution.
  • Audiences in metro and rural and regional areas were reached. For example, an ABC Overnights interview with Rebecca Shaw on older men’s friendships was syndicated to 60 regional outlets and streamed online.
  • The New Zealand press featured a number of stories, including articles on Professor Norman Feather’s presentation on 'tall poppies' and Kerry Thomas’ presentation on sleep and post-natal depression.
  • There was significant online coverage that reached across Australia and to China and Africa.
  • Niche target publications were engaged, including Medical Observer and Australian Doctor, covering stories on GPs and psychologists working together, and hoarding respectively. The high quality university affiliated online publication, The Conversation, requested a number of pieces on conference topics including obesity, weight management, men’s body image and hoarding. Parenting publications ran information arising from Kerry Thomas’s research on sleep and post-natal depression, and 50 something, a seniors publication, will feature a piece by Rebecca Shaw on older men’s friendships.

 


The APS would like to acknowledge and thank the following individuals for their support and assistance with the 2011 Annual Conference

Conference Scientific
Program Committee

Professor Don Byrne FAPS (Chair)
Dr Consuelo Barreda-Hanson MAPS
Professor Simon Crowe FAPS
Lucy Krelle
Professor Lyn Littlefield FAPS
Dr Anita Mak MAPS
Professor Kate Moore MAPS
Vicky Mrowinski Assoc MAPS
Marshall O’Brien MAPS
Professor Prasuna Reddy MAPS
Dr Elizabeth Rieger MAPS
Jac Smit
Dr Nicholas Voudouris MAPS

Student Volunteers

The Conference Organising Committee
also wishes to thank all the student
volunteers who assisted at the Conference.

APS National Office staff
Frances Bologna
Dr Lynne Casey MAPS
Sylvia Cervan
Karen Coghlan
Karen Grigg
Ahona Guha
Judith Heywood
Karen Holst
Joanne Howard
Lucy Krelle
Professor Lyn Littlefield FAPS
Joan Moore
Vicky Mrowinski Assoc MAPS
Sean Mulquiney
Katrina Mutton
Athena Politis
Marina Stoianovski
Jac Smit
Janene Trickey
Dr Nicholas Voudouris MAPS
Allen White

The APS would like to acknowledge and thank the following businesses for their support and assistance with the 2011 Annual Conference

Sponsors
Silver sponsor:
American Express Australia Limited

Bronze sponsor (Conference dinner):
Aon

Welcome Reception Sponsor:
Yellow Pages

Farewell Drinks Sponsor:
Perth Convention Bureau
Exhibitors
American Express
Aon
Australian Academic Press
Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)
Australian Psychological Society
Cengage Learning
Crisis Support Services
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Footprint Books
HICAPS
iSOFT
National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA)
Psychological Assessments Australia
Psychology Australia
Rolls Filing Systems
Routledge/Taylor & Francis
Specialist Link
Wiley-Blackwell