Sandy Hart, Social Worker, NSW:
Thanks to the TASA team for enabling me to attend the 2016 conference in Melbourne. It was a wonderful experience and really valuable. It was lovely to be welcomed and included despite currently not studying or working in academia or being attached to a university.
The conference was an enjoyable learning and networking experience. I am a Social Worker and I had not had the opportunity to attend a TASA conference previously. A number of aspects stood out to me from the conference. These included a diverse range of people, universities and many topics being presented. There was a welcome and a generous, friendly vibe across the three days. I enjoyed hearing from speakers in a variety of streams and subjects and well as the keynote addresses, plenary panels and thematic groups, especially about activism and critical disability studies. I was inspired and encouraged to hear of the work of academics, including students, in the various areas of sociology and the relevance of this work to practice. I appreciated hearing critique and consideration with depth of pertinent concerns for our societies such as addressing human rights, discrimination, inequality, exclusion and poverty. I had opportunity to learn about various research approaches, universities and postgraduate pathways which I considered achievable and encouraging. Research and theory became more relevant to me again in my practice. It was a well organised conference with beautiful food and time given for connection and networking over breaks.
Most importantly I was encouraged to see robust and diverse debate over many issues which are often considered controversial and difficult. On the whole people were respectful of each other, their contribution and perspectives. I also respect that TASA tries to ensure many people can have the opportunity to present and learn from each other.
I recommend TASA conferences as a valuable professional development experience, opportunity for connection and inspiration for people who are working in the community services sector, policy, academia or research. See you in Perth I hope!