The new dates for the 17th WAIMH Congress will be 22 – 26 June 2021. On behalf of the WAIMH 2021 Organising Committee we want to let you know that it is full steam ahead to bring you an amazing Congress next year that we know will be worth the wait! The Congress committees are regularly meeting and planning for WAIMH 2021. We thank you for your continued support.
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands and waters throughout Australia, and pay respect to the Elders past, present and emerging. We recognise the importance of connection to culture, land, kinship and community to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander families. We acknowledge the cultural practices and traditions still carried out today and being passed down to future generations.
The year 2020 has not been easy for any of us with the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Had things gone the way we expected, the WAIMH 17th World Congress in Brisbane would now be a beautiful memory and we would all be back home telling our friends and colleagues what a wonderful experience it was. Instead we all have had to adjust to the current situation worldwide, and I wish to thank you all for your patience as we have tried to figure out what would be the best option concerning the WAIMH Brisbane Congress.
Through the numerous discussions with our colleagues in Australia and worldwide it has become obvious that the situation with the pandemic can look very different in different countries, and even in different regions within countries. Currently, in Australia and New Zealand the governments are easing restrictions and looking towards a future with a more open society that might allow social gatherings quite soon. In contrast to that, medical experts and epidemiologists are warning about the possibility of a second or even a third wave of COVID-19. Without a crystal ball we cannot have any certainty about how things will be in June 2021, but through our discussions we have tried to figure out what the possibilities might be, and to prepare for them.
Postponing the Congress for a year gives us some time to see which of the possibilities becomes most likely. The best possible scenario naturally is that either there is a vaccine or the virus has been eradicated, and we can safely have a Congress with participants from all over the world. It is also possible that in June 2021 Australia and regions close to it will be allowing much larger gatherings, and participants from those regions will be able to attend the Congress in person, while participants from other continents and regions cannot travel, and we will need to offer them participation in the Congress as an on-line event. It is also possible that in June 2021 we will still have a pandemic situation and we will have to organize a full eCongress on-line, as many associations are already planning to do.
What I trust I can say with certainty is that we WILL have the 17th World Congress of the WAIMH in Brisbane one way or another, and we are looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible – hopefully face-to-face, but at least on-line if need be.
My grandmother used to say often that there is nothing so bad that it won’t bring something good with it – the Finnish version of “Every cloud has a silver lining”. One of the good things this year is that the WAIMH made a digital leap and organized three wonderful webinars for its members and for you who had registered for the Brisbane Congress. Another good thing is that we still have the 17th WAIMH World Congress in Brisbane to look forward to!
I most certainly look forward to the possibility of seeing you all there and being able to share experiences and many smiles and laughs with you. Until then let us wash our hands, keep each other safe and live in hope of getting together in the 17th WAIMH World Congress in Brisbane June 2021.