Conference in Alice Springs


3 November 2015



Although it was only about 3 months since my first visit to the Northern Territory, including Alice Springs, I didn’t have to think twice when the opportunity arose for me to attend the 48th Annual Conference of the Australian Association of Gerontology, to be held at the attractive Alice Springs Convention Centre (left), nestled under the spectacular McDonnell Ranges.











Welcome to delegates at Alice Springs Airport (left), and entry to the Airport building (centre) and indigenous pattern on floor (left)

It was fairly hot, about 35 degrees, when I arrived in Alice and after settling into my accommodation, I thought it sensible to catch a cab into town, rather than a kilometre walk under the blazing sun!  I was keen to see some of the galleries which I missed on my last trip, and to buy some souvenirs for family. However I had forgotten it was the Melbourne Cup afternoon and a number of the shops had signs indicating they were either closed for two hours between 12noon and 2pm (Alice Springs is 1.5 hours behind Eastern Daylight Saving Time), or simply closed for the afternoon!









Two policewomen ride their horses lazily along the main street (left), and entrance to Todd Mall

After browsing some of the galleries I managed to find a supermarket to stock up on some food for the next few days, and a coffee shop.  Then time to find a cab to take me and my shopping back to the Desert Palms, to turn on the air conditioner and cool down.

4 November, 2015

The conference started at 11.45am today with a special welcome coffee for those attending the conference for the first time (apparently there were 150 of us), but nowhere near that number at the welcome, thank goodness!

Arrived at the Convention Centre in plenty of time to find my way around, then attend the welcome, a good opportunity to meet some of the people attending, there were over 400 delegates at this Conference.  Lunch was at 12.45pm, after which it was time for the Keynote Address by retired Justice Michael Kirby, and I had been looking forward to this.


Local indigeous people watch delegates walking through the cleansing smoke in the area of the conference
Australia’s longest serving judge, retired Justice Michael Kirby, took the delegates back to his early days in school, and compared them with Australia of today.  He agreed that we had gone ahead in leaps in bounds in acknowledging the return of their land to our indigenous people, the acceptance into our country of multicultural migrants and refugees, a change of face relating to “white” Australians, and the advancements made in the roles of women.
His current special interest is the acknowledgement and planning for the increasing number of LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex) people, and the planning for the ageing of this group of people, many of whom are over 65 and will be going into aged care in the years to come.  Following a standing ovation, Michael Kirby conducted a lively and interesting Q&A to end the session (left).
Afternoon tea followed, then Concurrent Sessions, I chose to attend Table Top Conversations on Older People and Their rights.   This included conversations in groups about the frightening reality of elder abuse, the writing of an Advanced Care Directive, Advocacy Rights for Indigenous People in South Australia and the case for Elder Mediation in cases of older people and family conflict.  The final Plenary Session was a Keynote Presentation by Professor Gill Livingston of the UK who spoke on her work on dementia.
The first day ended with a Welcome Reception in the Convention Centre Courtyard, with wonderful views of the McDonnell Ranges.  Some local business had stalls selling all kinds of aboriginal art work, we were entertained by a group of local school children on drums, and ate lots of delicious finger food!
Read more about the Telegraph Station, and my holiday in the Northern Territory here
5 November 2015
Another full day of very interesting Plenary Sessions and Concurrent Sessions, and meeting up with lots of great people.  At the end of the day it was time to Glam Up (dress as Priscilla Queen of the Desert) or Glam Down (dress as Crocodile Dundee) and make our way by bus to the historic Telegraph Station for a great Conference Dinner under the stars.  Absolutely perfect weather with lots of stars (even saw a few falling stars), entertainment from an Aussie Icon, Ken Egan, and later with a band for those who wanted to dance off their dinner!
 Fairly late night after the dinner so pleased to get back to the hotel and into bed.
6 & 7 November 2015
The following day we heard the final sessions of an excellent conference in a wonderful part of Australia, and it was with some regrets that I packed my bag the next day and headed for the airport, saying goodbye to my accommodation at Desert Palms (below left and right). Of course, there is no place like home!

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