16th Annual Helping Families Change Conference 2014: Sydney, Australia

The 16th Annual Helping Families Change Conference (HFCC) was held on February 19th – 21st, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.

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After receiving a travel grant from FORTE, I was on my way to the land down under. I attended the actual conference (2 days), while sadly, missing the day prior to the conference; the workshop.

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 1.12.05 PMThis was sad, as I had heard several people talk about how amazing the talks were; and for me, I wish I was able to hear the talk on father involvement (a talk that at least 7 people told me was great to listen to) given by Dr Louise Keown and Tenille Frank (PhD Candidate).

The Audience: About 300 researchers, practitioners, and policy makers attended the conference. Most speakers appeared to be researchers, while most audience members seemed to be practitioners (with a few policy makers sprinkled in). People were very easy to talk to, friendly, and helpful!

Peculiar Phrases: An interesting outsiders note was that nearly every keynote speaker gave a nod to the indigenous people of Australia. I found it peculiar to thank the indigenous population for allowing research to occur on their land–after all, most Australians were born in Australia. Click here to read a bit about Australia and their reconciliation ideas for past wrong-doings.

Another interesting factoid was that nearly all speakers said “Parent support programs, like Triple P,…” It was just peculiar to constantly hear that phrase repeated.

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Keynote Speakers: The conference had a number of keynote speakers, and they were, as a whole, quite good at discussing research, while speaking in practical tones and relating the importance of the findings to practitioners. Really, a great way to connect with all members of the audience. To see the keynote speakers’ powerpoints (and nearly every other presenters’ powerpoints) click this HFCC website.

In fact the whole first half of each day was devoted to keynote speakers. To see a pdf list of all of the keynote speakers and the titles of their talks click here and click here to see a pdf of everyone’s names and abstracts. Or consequently, you can click here to see the webpage with all of the abstracts.

20140219_233204Being a conference that promotes Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, Dr Matthew Sanders spoke, both at the workshop and as a keynote speaker, and is fantastic to listen to. He, perhaps giving a nod to some of my co-researchers in Sweden, spoke about the past, present, and future of parent training programs, and specifically talked for a while on the cost-effectiveness of a population shift.

20140220_013020Another wonderful talk was given by Dr Rachel Calam from the University of Manchester speaking about reaching vulnerable families.

The Venue: HFCC was held at the Sheraton in Sydney–a very lovely hotel, with fast internet, and amazing food. In fact, I can honestly say that we were served the best seafood, salads, meats, and desserts that I’ve ever had at a conference! It was served buffet style (always risky on quality), the food was quite good quality…and never-ending.

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Posters and Symposium: Since half of the day was spent listening to keynote speakers and the other half listening to symposiums, there weren’t many posters, and posters, although on display during the whole conference, were only subject for review during lunch. And therefore, I felt that the posters weren’t given a lot of respect.

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Having said that, I noticed a unique feature about the posters–it was really hard to find a poster that just discussed one study. Most of the posters were either grouped studies or were theoretical/methodological. In other words, if you want to present your findings on a particular study at HFCC, give a presentation.

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The symposiums were well attended, with 20-30 people listening to the symposium. Having been at conferences where the only audience are the speakers, this was great. And the audience, mostly practitioners, were quite keen on what they could take away from the talks. Therefore, the talks that were less researchy and more applicable received more attention from the audience (aka–less stats/more findings and implications).

Overall, the conference was of high quality on all accounts: organized very well, with email reminders being sent, devoted and friendly staff helping to find symposium rooms, great opportunities to network, passionate keynote speakers, and they even collected the powerpoints from the various symposiums so that others could have access to the talks after the conference. To see those powerpoints, click on this HFCC website, and then feel free to rummage through and find the talk you’re looking for 🙂

Click here to read about my presentation at the conference.

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