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AIATSIS Conference 2009

Conference closing: by AIATSIS Chairman, Prof Mick Dodson, AM

Good afternoon everyone.  And thank you for coming together once again to mark the end of what I believe to have been a moving, engaging, informative and even entertaining conference. I know you are all tired from giving so much of yourselves and listening to others, but the final things we need to get through are worth staying for.

First of all, I want to show you a very short wrap up that cameraman/ editor Graham Dyson and the wonderful team at the AIATSIS Audiovisual Archives pulled together with the help of first time TV journo – staff member Robert Williams. We wanted to hear what you had to say about the conference, and many of you generously shared your views.

[Film duration 8.5 mins]

I want to say a few words now about what we have gained from sharing and being together for the past few days. What I have gained from this conference is a how strongly the sense of Country and the sense of community permeates our urban environment if only people would bother – or knew how – to look.

Organising a conference of this size is a huge task. So many of the Institute’s partner organisations, friends and colleagues have chaired, given presentations, supported in every way they could. We are indebted to you all – you know who you are.

I am very proud to say that every area of the Institute has put the shoulder to the wheel to make this conference the best event it could be. The Research team, the Library, Audiovisual Archives, Corporate Services and IT staff and contractors, Aboriginal Studies Press, Executive, the Family History Unit, the Native Title Research Unit. My fellow Council members have thrown their best efforts into this event as well – in presentations, chairing and being available, lending a hand.

The conference couldn't have been possible without the support of Tony Boxall, Anna Johnstone, Rachel Ippoliti, Robert Williams, Graham Dyson and Chris Ryan, who have each been responsible for making things happen when they had to.

There have also been dozens of volunteers helping with sound and recording, IT, registrations and catering. I would like to record our thanks to all of these people for providing their time and expertise. Of course, we also need to thank the 200 or so speakers, who made the time to share their knowledge, cultural and intellectual property with us. We hope that, thanks to their contributions, you can take away lots of useful ideas to make your communities better places.

But, there is one person who grabbed this conference by the scruff of the neck from the start and has not let go for anything or anyone. In October last year AIATSIS decided to recruit a new manager, Dr Cressida Fforde, for its research public programs.

Before we appointed Cressida, one of her referees said: 
"Dr Fforde is one of the most talented yet humble people I have had the pleasure to work alongside. AIATSIS and the communities it represents would be extremely well served to capture someone of her calibre onto its team."

Naturally, we wondered how much Cressida had paid him.

Looking at the success of this conference, I think we can see it was a fair assessment of her ability. Cressida was responsible for developing the whole program. Organising around 170 papers into three days is a massive task. Some of us said it was too much, but she was always confident and, as she would say, the results have been "fantastic". All the while organising this conference, Cressida has also taken the role of new editor of the Institute’s Journal, Australian Aboriginal Studies. Watch out for the new-look Journal coming out next year.

Could you please join me in thanking Cressida. Thank you everyone.

Conference awards

Prizes were awarded at the conference for:

Many thanks to the judging panel: Lisa Strelein, Dana Ober and Bronwyn Fredericks. For further information about these presentations, including selected audio and video, follow the links for these presenters on the conference papers pages.

Best Student  Presentation :

Kelly Greenop* for her presentation in session U1.2 ‘Place Attachment and Culture in Contemporary Indigenous Inala.’

Kelly demonstrated community engagement with the work and also conveyed the community’s enthusiasm for the project within her presentation.  Kelly’s perspective was highly informed.  She utilized statistics, historical documents and individual narratives in order to showcase place attachment and culture within the Brisbane suburb of Inala.  Kelly’s presentation highlighted the important contribution this research work makes to our understanding of  ' urban ' .  Her presentation generated discussion, questions and reflections from the audience.  Kelly showed us what we have to look forward to in terms of her future contributions in the field and in terms of quality presentations of her findings from working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.


Best presentation overall: 

Mary-Anne Gale, Eileen McHughes*, Phyllis Williams*, and Verna Koolmatrie* for ‘Lakun Ngarrindjeri Thunggari – Weaving the Ngarrindjeri language back to health.’

This is an excellent story of language revitalisation.  Mary-Anne, Eileen, Phyllis and Verna used different methods to present an overview of the revitalisation program.  The Ngarringdjeri are known for their weaving of baskets and mats.  The women used the aspects of weaving baskets and mats and showed how they could be applied to the language program – weaving was and is a metaphor for the weaving of the threads of language, in a way to revitalise it for the Ngarrindjeri people and others.  Their presentation was interesting, exciting and inspiring!  Congratulations women on a fantastic presentation and being awarded the best presentation of the Conference.

Notable Mentions: 

* AIATSIS sponsored delegate

~ AIATSIS part-sponsored delegate


Primary sponsor - Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs external

 Major Sponsor - ACT Government external

 Media sponsor - Koori Mail external