October was a busy month for Carers Australia, beginning with the hugely successful 7th International Carers Conference held at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Following the official launch by the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Christian Porter MP, Keynote speaker Christopher Hills was centre stage for his presentation, with father and carer Garry appearing via a film that he and Christopher produced especially for the conference. The video highlighted Christopher’s filmmaking skills and the teamwork of this father and son duo.

Another well-received keynote was given by Dr Jordan Nguyen who gave insights into the field of biomedical engineering and the technological innovations available to support people with disabilities, which in turn can assist carers.

The conference offered a broad range of concurrent session presentations in 11 rooms across three days. Display booths in the exhibition hall highlighted information, products and services for carers and care recipients. Major sponsor Bupa provided 10-minute massages to delegates and four pharmacists from major sponsor Amcal completed 94 health assessments over the three day conference, including diabetes testing, heart health and medications review.

Also in the exhibition hall, Apple showcased their assistive technology and products within the Carers Australia Smart Home. A driverless car was also on display and attracted a lot of interest.

The Welcome Reception featured the Tutti Choir, comprising singers with and without disability, and carers. They performed side-by-side, challenging preconceptions and placing the performing artists centre stage.

Australian comedian, Denise Scott, and band Lucifer’s Lounge were a hit at the Gala Dinner, sponsored by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

A number of organisations took the opportunity to hold a launch event or panel discussion during the conference. The International Alliance of Carer Organisations and Merck hosted a breakfast to launch an international carer toolkit and the Embracing Carers initiative. Another breakfast, hosted by AbbVie, gave delegates the opportunity to hear about living with Parkinson’s Disease from the perspective of a patient, a doctor and a carer.

The final plenary session was an informal debate that contested: If caring was an Olympic sport, Australia would win gold. With an international team comprising Ireland, Canada and the UK for the positive, and an Australian team for the negative, there were amusing Olympic-themed slides and Australiana props.

At the end of the conference, in honour of Australia’s Indigenous heritage, an Aboriginal message stick was passed from Carers Australia CEO, Ara Cresswell, to the hosts of the 8th International Carers Conference – Rick Greene and Grace Whiting from the National Alliance for Caregiving, USA. This conference will be held in Washington in 2020.

In all the Conference was host to 600 delegates and 15 keynote speakers, with 141 concurrent sessions, 40 exhibitors, four supplementary events. Almost 350 delegates engaged with the conference app to gain access to the most up-to-date and relevant information across the three days.

We want to thank all those who worked both publicly and behind the scenes to make this Conference our best ever, including our sponsors, the speakers, facilitators, conference organisers, the international Steering Committee and Scientific Committee, the MCs Tim Moore and Karen Cook and the Carers Australia Board and staff.