2015 Conference Wrap-Up

2015 Conference Wrap-Up

They say “good things come in small packages”. Perhaps that’s true, because from the 19th until the 21st of November this year, the Sydney Nanoscience Hub was buzzing. Around 300 students and recently graduated health professionals packed into the new state-of the-art facility to share what they knew about leadership, and be inspired by others. It was the Future Health Leaders Conference 2015 – “Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders”.

On hand to welcome us all was the irrepressible Uncle Max Eulo, who performed a smoking ceremony to bring us together. Senator Fiona Nash, Minister for Rural Health, was also kind enough to send her wishes and remind us of the hard work we need to continue in rural and remote areas to ensure health equity for all.

To ensure that we provide fair and just health services to all Australians is a huge ask, but on the first morning luckily we had a few gentleman on hand to assist us who well suited to the task. Dr. Mark Wenitong, Shane Phillips, and Professor Tom Calma. They, and our own Shannon Nott taught us that buy-in from the community is so important, and fostering self-esteem needs to be at the heart of our relationships with indigenous peoples.

One of the most inspiring themes that came from the whole conference was indeed the importance of community involvement – a team-based approach to all of the challenges that we face in health and social welfare. It was fitting then, that we welcomed a number of veterinary colleagues to the event. OneHealth advocates, including Guy Weerasinghe, taught us about why vector-borne diseases, climate change, and even Charlie Sheen’s HIV diagnosis should matter to all of us.

Those may seem like three  fairly disparate topics, but I assure you that they are intimately related, and that all three are vital to population health in the future. If you don’t believe that there can be meaningful links between such contrasting concepts, just have a think about the many and varied backgrounds of the people who came together at FHL2015, without prejudice, to work towards creating leadership in our field. We were clinicians, students, public health advocates, barristers, Wallabies captains, CEOs, marketing specialists, soldiers, sailors, and Nobel Prize winners. At FHL2015, each of us got to be all of these things because we were willing to share our ideas, our expertise, and our passion – what a rare and wonderful thing to be a part of!

One delegate mentioned that “It’s amazing, there were no boring speakers here! There’s always at least one at a conference!”, although many delegates did identify highlights. Marie Bashir charmed us with her demure, yet incredibly resolute and compelling tales of her younger days as a psychiatrist. Julian Burnside inspired with his spirited account of the plight of refugees in Australia – he encouraged us to practice leadership, not followership, and to have courage in our convictions. Cate MacGregor showed us that everyone has their own battles to fight, and that we can find allies in unexpected places.

After three days of collaborative workshops, amazing entertainment and networking opportunities, and a dazzling lineup of speakers that left many of us star-struck, there was one particular question that “Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders” provoked in me, and that was “Where are we going next?”. You are the ones who need to answer that though. You, the nurses, the paramedics, the occupational therapists, the doctors – the future health leaders. Until we next get together, do as Nick Farr-Jones said, and “Pressez le citron” – Squeeze that lemon, and get every last drop.


Best wishes from your co-chairs,

Ed and Emmanuel