ASID Annual Scientific Meeting deemed a success for NT


Thursday, 26 September, 2019


The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID) Annual Scientific Meeting 2019, held from 16–18 May, saw 450 attendees from Australia, New Zealand, Uganda, Malaysia, the UK and the USA descend on the Darwin Convention Centre.

This event is said to be the leading Australasian meeting for adult and paediatric infectious disease and clinical microbiology specialists, connecting clinicians, microbiologists and health professionals. The conference theme was ‘Topical and tropical infectious diseases’, with speakers including NT-based Dr Jane Davies — a clinical research fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research and Co-Director of Infectious Diseases at Royal Darwin Hospital.

With the ASM a rotational event, it was the Northern Territory’s ‘turn’ to host the 2019 ASID ASM. The NT was also regarded as an appropriate destination choice for ASID’s specific specialisation in infectious diseases, with the event having a strong focus on global and Aboriginal health.

In recognition of the NT location and Aboriginal culture, a ‘Yarning Circle’ session was introduced to the conference program, which simulated a campfire discussion and enabled participants to tell their stories. The official ‘Welcome to Country’ at the conference was meanwhile delivered by a Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation Elder, with the Larrakia people being the traditional owners of the Darwin region.

The offsite dinner, held at Darwin venue Pee Wee’s at the Point, featured entertainment by Bärra-West Wind — a band from the Birrtjimi Aboriginal community in North East Arnhem Land, who play original Aboriginal music. Finally, a ‘Pop-Up’ display at the convention centre enabled delegates to view and purchase mementos from a range of traditional hand-printed art, craft and gift items from Provenance Arts, a 100% Aboriginal-owned social enterprise.

An all-time record number of abstracts were received in advance of the conference, with a similar record achieved for poster sessions — the initial target attendance of 350 delegates was ultimately exceeded by 100 delegates. Another significant conference outcome was ASID’s decision to develop and publish a specific Position Statement on Indigenous Health in 2019.

“The conference has a strong focus on global and Aboriginal health, with factors relevant to the NT and Northern Australia,” said ASID President Professor Josh Davis. “We were especially pleased that one of the key outcomes of the Northern Territory ASM was the society’s decision to develop a specific Position Statement on Indigenous Health, which is such a crucial issue for the NT.”

Marilena Salvo, ASID Senior Executive Officer, added, “The 2019 ASM presented an opportunity for delegates to see the Northern Territory, with many visiting for the first time. Whilst not all could undertake additional touring, we ensured that elements such as the Welcome to Country, the Pop-Up display at the convention centre and the entertainment provided by the Bärra-West Wind band provided a true taste of the Territory, as did the offsite function venues. The very enthusiastic Conference Committee went out of their way to showcase the NT, and support provided by the NT Convention Bureau was especially helpful to us.”

The next ASID Annual Scientific Meeting will be held from 3–5 June 2020 at Pullman Melbourne on the Park, under the theme ‘Hospital Infectious Diseases’. For more information, visit https://www.asid.net.au/meetings/ASM2020.

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