It was heartwarming to get such positive feedback about the conference, both personally, by email, and via the survey we asked delegates to complete before downloading the presentations. Delegates said they were able to broaden their knowledge of UD and meet and mingle with like-minded people.
Highlights were the four keynote speakers and the panel session on the Economics of Inclusion.
The Eat and Meet Table Topic sessions were also popular and encouraged some good networking opportunities. Indeed networking was mentioned as one of the best parts of the conference by many delegates. The variety and diversity of the presentations were well received and considered high calibre. Hearing about progress in Singapore from Siam Imm Goh was enlightening, and Kelly Vincent was a big hit with her forthright comments.
Overall it seems that delegates had a good time. Those who attended the first conference compared it very favourably, particularly in the areas of interaction, variety of topics and practical information.
Several comments from the survey were about the venue. The Lower Town Hall was sponsored by the City of Sydney – this is their way of contributing to community events. Such sponsorship is essential in helping to keep the registration fees as low as possible. We were also hamstrung by pre-polling for local council elections which meant we had to shift rooms after our booking was made. Apparently we were trumped by the Electoral Commission. So my apologies for the Vault on the second day. We know it was not the optimum venue being a heritage building, but it is an example of the difficulties that such buildings have to overcome. When we get a universally designed venue in Sydney we will use it!
Our other major sponsor was the NSW Department of Family and Community Services and Minister Ajaka attended to open the second day.
While we plan to run this conference each two years, there is potential to run a one day forum in the intervening year – something that needs a bit less organising. We will let you know if this idea comes to anything. In planning a UD conference we also have to take particular account of the timing and locations of the biennial conferences of the Association of Consultants in Access Australia (ACAA), and the Australian Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Association (ARATA). In 2018 we will also need to be mindful of the timing for the European UD Conference, which will be held in the northern hemisphere summer in Dublin, Ireland.
On behalf of the Conference Committee, our thanks to all speakers for the high quality of their presentations, and our thanks to delegates from near and far, without whom the conference would not happen.
Jane Bringolf, Chair, Conference Committee