The Quick and the Deadly

ANZSOG’s 2023 First Nations Public Administration Conference last week was a resounding success and I flew home from Meanjin Brisbane on Friday night exhausted but exhilarated. There’s nothing like working three or four 12-hour days in a row to get the adrenalin pumping and it does make it hard to fall asleep when you eventually make it back to your hotel room to flop.

My team and I arrived late Tuesday afternoon joining other colleagues who’d flown in earlier or who are based in our Brisbane office. We did a quick reccy of the ginormous Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre at South Bank footsteps away from our hotel before going out to dinner in nearby streets all lit up. Brisbane is an hour behind Melbourne so I found myself up early on Wednesday and went for a walk by the river past the man made lagoon (where my boss Emma went for a swim one morning!) joining the many walkers, runners and cyclists enjoying the best part of the day.

After two years of running online meetings, it was fantastic to bring the Alumni Advisory Council together for the first time in person – eight of the 12 current members were there from different jurisdictions (states and territories) including Aotearoa New Zealand and it was delightful for them and us to finally meet in real life. Official proceedings in the Great Hall kicked off after lunch although my colleague Nataly and I were also responsible for the ANZSOG stall in the open Marketplace area where catering was held (and yes we will be selling our ANZSOG First Nations T-shirts so stay tuned). It was good to have a presence amongst the various First Nations organisations and retailers.

There were some beautiful wares for sale by First Nations artists including Blakbird Designs (who I bought some earrings from), Little Butten, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins (the partner of Indigenous ex-AFL player Che Cockatoo-Collins) and briefly the Aboriginal Art Co. (from whom I bought a couple of small things for my sisters as gifts). It was good to meet the co-founder Amanda Hayman who was also taking ANZSOG delegates on a First Nations public artwork morning tour finishing at her gallery and retail space.

Our conference itself was ably hosted by ABC journalist Dan Conifer who spoke (often getting briefed just before walking back onto stage) to over 800 people gathered in the hall (later breaking out into smaller rooms for ‘yarning’ sessions where delegates could ask questions of speakers and panelists) and over 200 people who attended virtually. There was a palpable buzz in the air and I think many people were just very grateful to be able to come together after so long apart.

Networking drinks and nibbles the first night were a big hit with people staying right until the end, which was emulated the following night with our gala dinner hosted by Aboriginal comedian Steph Tisdell (who was hilariously funny) and featuring Indigenous Australian second year dance students from nearby QPAC and a fierce and powerful performance from Kapa Haka entertainers. I stayed until the end hosting a table of alumni guests and some of the Maori crowd went on to party further into the night in Fortitude Valley.

With work events, there’s never much time left over to do anything personal unless you extend your time and take leave (which some of my colleagues have done) so I had to look longingly at the outdoor pool from my hotel balcony but did take my team out for dinner to ChuThePhat (pun fully intended) in the Fish Lane Arts Precinct (highly recommended). If you do visit the Brisbane Exhibition & Convention Centre, it’s worth a look at the Plaza Terrace gallery full of large scale Indigenous artworks where we held drinks just prior to the gala dinner and heard from Dame Naida Glavish DNZM JP. For anyone who saw her speak on the last day, she is wearing my scarf after feeling the cold in the Great Hall. She came and thanked the whole ANZSOG team after the conference on our efforts. There is nothing like a Dame! We are a lucky bunch but I’m very glad to be home in Narm Melbourne. There is no place like it.


Author: missrosannablog

I'm a marketer, writer, blogger and creative type interested in all things arts and culture in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia ranging from inner city to outer suburbia and beyond.

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