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Conference report

Contesting conversations in practice, education, research and policy. Adelaide Convention Centre, South Australia. 4-7 November 2001

Author: Sally Hardy Senior Research Associate

RCN Institute, London. (Email: S.Hardy@uea.ac.uk )

Over 250 delegates from around the world met in Adelaide, South Australia for the fourth conference in the international ‘Connecting Conversations’ series. The series was set up to provide a forum for nurses and midwives around the world to talk about key issues in practice, policy, education and research.

The conference was hosted by Professor Philip Darbyshire of the Adelaide Women and Children’s Hospital, and the Flinders University of Australia and the University of South Australia. This year’s theme was ‘Contesting Conversations’ and challenged delegates to reconsider assumptions about the direction of nursing, midwifery and health care. All speakers enthusiastically voiced this theme throughout the conference.

The keynote papers began each day’s proceedings and were followed by

...

Conference report

Contesting conversations in practice, education, research and policy. Adelaide Convention Centre, South Australia. 4-7 November 2001

Author: Sally Hardy Senior Research Associate

RCN Institute, London. (Email: S.Hardy@uea.ac.uk)

Over 250 delegates from around the world met in Adelaide, South Australia for the fourth conference in the international ‘Connecting Conversations’ series. The series was set up to provide a forum for nurses and midwives around the world to talk about key issues in practice, policy, education and research.

The conference was hosted by Professor Philip Darbyshire of the Adelaide Women and Children’s Hospital, and the Flinders University of Australia and the University of South Australia. This year’s theme was ‘Contesting Conversations’ and challenged delegates to reconsider assumptions about the direction of nursing, midwifery and health care. All speakers enthusiastically voiced this theme throughout the conference.

The keynote papers began each day’s proceedings and were followed by a wide range of concurrent sessions. Examples of the range of themes covered over the four days were: arts and humanities, childbirth, culture, discursive practices, ethics, practice research, reflecting on reflections, and policy issues. The poster viewing was equally varied and prompted some excellent conversations between delegates. The fourth day’s morning sessions were presented as symposia, followed by further concurrent sessions in the afternoon. Emphasis was placed on each presenters’ significance, quality and diversity by the conference host and the opportunity to continue conversing with all delegates through a variety of organised and highly successful social events.

Keynote sessions

The presentations from the keynotes varied with all presenting material that extrapolated aspects of their specialist knowledge:

Philip Darbyshire presented collaborative work with children from gambling problem families. He challenged conventional research methods of inquiry, prompting the question: should nursing research be bound in single frameworks that might prevent insights or being surprised by data?

Gary Rolfe presented a challenge to notions of truth within research through four stories outlining post-modernity.

Ray Rowden spoke about the implications of the rapid pace of change in health care.

Patricia Benner spoke about medicine, care and lifeworld from her perceived relationship between these and posed the question: how can we support healing practices from the patient’s lifeworld?

A symposium: critical and creative models of becoming

The ‘Critical and creative models for becoming’ symposium was held on the fourth morning and therefore held the challenge of keeping people’s interest after three days of intensive information bombardment. I think we succeeded. Unlike any of the other presentations, we abandoned the conventional theatre-style arrangement of the room and presented an experimental, interactive performance, using a musical framework, dramatisations, posters and a Bridget Jones’s Diary approach to presenting perspectives in the research process.

We (myself, Angie Titchen, Rob Garbett, J Higgs) presented the critical companionship model (Titchen 2000), aspects of the expertise in practice project (Manley et al 2001) and collaborative inquiry work (Higgs and Titchen 2001). About 30-40 people attended our session and offered valuable feedback that was both encouraging and supportive of the substance and process of our symposium.

The venue was stunning, a large and modern convention centre overlooking the River Torrens. According to the guide books, one of the best conference venues in the world. As for setting the scene for the importance of nursing and midwifery research, practice and education, the Convention Centre provided an impressive backdrop to an extensive range of conversations that will no doubt continue after the event. Nursing and midwifery on an international scale are challenging and contesting conventional approaches to health care. And we are providing surprises and challenges that can potentially effect the future of health care worldwide. The next conference in the series will be held in Bournemouth, September 2003.

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