Date published: Wednesday 10 November 2021
Last month, from the 19th to the 22nd of October, over 300 of the Baptist Care Australia family united virtually for the 2021 National Conference. With the 2020 Conference cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, lockdowns and border closures, the virtual environment gave us an opportunity to continue our Conference, providing valuable learnings and opportunities to reconnect.
The theme of ‘magnify’ allowed us to explore its plethora of meanings from ‘Magnifying’ God in our lives and making large the good work that is being done by our members.
Our core day on the 19th provided an opportunity for our members to understand what ‘magnify’ means in the context of faith and our service offerings. Karl Faase opened the conference with the theology of magnify, providing a rich understanding to initiate our thinking in this space. His thoughts echoed as Melissa Lipsett of Baptist World Aid Australia reflected on the role of faith-based organisations in tackling global inequality before Dean Parkin brought us back to a core issue in our own national context with the ‘From the Heart’ campaign. We then magnified our members around the country to hear about their 2021 highlights and rode the wave of emotions alongside them. The day was rounded out with Gary Bertwistle who led us through an inspiring, yet pragmatic session on how to ‘reset our mojo’.
The 20th of October saw us magnify housing and homelessness. We began with the concept of ‘No Place Like Home’ with Peter Mares, who led us through his thoughts on repairing Australia’s housing crisis and the findings of his book by the same name. We then heard from Kate Colvin of the Everybody’s Home campaign and our very own Baptist Care CEOs to establish the national and state policy context. Later in the afternoon we explored how passion can combine with need to deliver innovative and meaningful outcomes as Louise Pleming of Rally4Ever, joined us alongside Brian Turton. They explained how their unlikely friendship and experience of playing tennis had helped Brian in his experience of homelessness in what was an emotional and raw discussion that will stay in the minds of all who heard their story. Nicole Hornsby, Executive Director, then presented our new strategy and advocacy framework moving forward, highlighting key campaign collaborations including Raise the Rate and our key role in the Australian Aged Care Collaboration.
The 21st of October highlighted aged care. We began the day with an agile panel discussion on workforce where we heard varying opinions and gained insights into work being completed throughout the sector. Next, we heard from James Downie, CEO of the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, giving our teams the opportunity to understand the upcoming changes for the industry. We also heard from Dr Piers Gooding on supported decision making, as well as Paul Sadler and Anne Liddell from Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) regarding upcoming reform. The day was completed with global insights into rapid antigen testing, presented by Medilogic.
The final day of the conference explored families, children, and domestic violence. Dr Joseph McDowall of CREATE Foundation opened the day by providing insights into young people’s care experiences and the implications for those providing care. We then heard from some of the women working on the Safer Spaces Toolkit project by Australian Baptist Ministries, providing a fantastic opportunity to learn about their new resource to help churches address domestic abuse and build relationally healthy communities. Finally, we heard from Professor Helen Skouteris on the role of healthy eating and active living matters as a part of therapeutic care, showing how the HEALing Matters guide can help carers use food and physical activity as a powerful tool to demonstrate trust and care
To conclude, we switched pace as the sprightly team from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) took us through a persuasive communication workshop. Attendees enjoyed this practical, meaningful, and incredibly fun way to finish the 2021 conference with many laughs had by all.
Each day of the conference provided us the opportunity to explore the advocacy areas in which our members work – magnify the policy issue, provide insights into best practice and innovation, and conclude with unique learnings and experiences. We thank all our speakers for their contributions and the value they delivered for all attendees.
Our event would not have been possible without the generous contributions from our event sponsors, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their continued support. They believed in our vision and came along with us on the journey to support us and our members through 2021.
‘Magnify’ was a wonderful opportunity for the Baptist family to reunite in what has been a year full of challenges. We are excited for what 2022 holds and hope to see everybody in-person sometime soon!