It is with great sadness and regret, that the continuing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the rapid and unpredictable border closures, the Australian Kinesiology Association Inc. (AKA) and the Australian Institute of Kinesiologists Ltd (AIK Ltd), have decided to cancel the Vision2020 Take 2 Conference in October, 2021. This decision was not made lightly. We would like to share the reasons that led to this decision.
The AKA Management Committee (MC) and the AIK Ltd National Executive Board (NE) (henceforth professional bodies), in conjunction with the Conference Committee, have discussed at length the risks and benefits of the conference going ahead in the current climate of uncertainty. After many stops and starts since March 2020, the professional bodies would like to acknowledge the Conference Committee’s ongoing diligence, and especially their preparation of a thorough risk assessment for the live event, if the conference could go ahead at the hotel venue as planned this year.
The professional bodies have the final responsibility to identify and manage the risks of sponsoring a live conference in Brisbane or cancelling this Vision2020 Take 2 Conference and communicating this information to all stakeholders.
After consulting the risk assessment document provided by the Conference Committee, the professional bodies conducted a full and thorough risk analysis. Hazards or possible situations associated with the event going ahead that may expose people to injury, illness or disease, or financial loss were considered and discussed at great length.
Forty-six hazards/situations were identified with eight considered high risk (major or severe consequence, and highly likely), and many moderate risks, suggesting a cancellation was the best course of action, including financial ramifications for both professional bodies and all stakeholders.
In Response to Members’ Questions:
The professional bodies value annual conferences. Hence the decision to create and run the March 2021 online conference #reinventingreconnecting within a very short time-frame, when it became clear that a face-to-face conference was unable to happen in 2020.
The AKA MC and the AIK Ltd NE look back with pride on the achievements and energy generated by the live conferences run by both bodies. These conferences are a highlight of the year for both the professional bodies and members. We acknowledge how conferences support professional unity and the dynamic culture of kinesiology in Australia.
Please note that a hybrid model (where some attend online and others attend the live event) adds considerable cost (approximately $7,000 – $11,000), and if this is deployed due to border restrictions, some speakers may not be able to attend live, potentially devaluing a face-to-face conference ticket.
Additionally, the total financial burden to non-Queensland delegates in hotel quarantine, accommodation, flights and other travel-related costs are estimated to be between $200,000 and $350,000, if a mandatory hotel quarantine was enforced ($3,000 – $5,000 per delegate). This is a substantial percentage of average annual income for kinesiologists. Delegates who are required to quarantine (hotel or otherwise) may potentially lose two weeks’ worth of projected income.
The professional bodies appreciate that individuals need to weigh up the risks for themselves: financially, time-wise, and other risks with regards to physically attending conferences or not. However, the professional bodies are responsible for all their members, and at this stage are not prepared to risk potential financial losses from the conference proceeding.
The professional bodies recognised the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the confusion around lockdown/border requirements for the different states, and the potential risks of having to pay for and be in a two-week quarantine, has its own emotional toll on all involved.
Added to this is the emotional impact of cancelling a conference at the last minute, which we have already experienced in March 2020. Then, there is the ongoing burden of meetings to deal with the fall-out from the many postponements.
Additionally, the delegates who have continued to support this event have also been on an emotional rollercoaster, with the additional stress of changing travel arrangements at the last minute as well as mental wellbeing considerations if mandatory quarantine is enforced, cannot be overlooked.
Finally, the emotional toll on the AKA MC and AIK Ltd NE must also be addressed. These roles are voluntary, and the burden of the members’ money and opinions weigh heavily at times. Although we accept this burden when we give our time and energy to the professional bodies, the impact can never be fully realised, until you are faced with decisions such as these.
Whilst we appreciate there has been no face-to-face conference in two years (and potentially likely for another year), we also appreciate the limit of our control over these factors. We are therefore considering a number of ways to facilitate connection in place of a face-to-face conference.
We understand there are two membership bodies with separate CPE requirements for their membership year:
- AKA Inc.: July to June
- AIK Ltd: January to December
The online conference provided a substantial CPE opportunity for all members in the 2020/2021 membership year. For the professional bodies, it is most important to provide members with an opportunity to gain points in the 2021/2022 membership year, in alternative ways to running a live event.
Therefore, the professional bodies will be considering how best to support the registered delegates and all members with regard to CPE.
Next Scheduled Face-to-Face Conference:
Both the AKA MC and the AIK Ltd NE are committed to continuing the long-held tradition of holding face-to-face conferences. Only time will tell when the COVID-19 pandemic will ease and as such, the AKA MC and the AIK Ltd NE will carefully watch and wait for the next opportunity to hold another face-to-face conference.
A personal note from the Face-to-Face Conference Committee, Vision 2020
We wanted to express our disappointment of the cancellation of the Vision 2020 Conference due to the current COVID-19 landscape in Victoria and unstable border closures. The conference committee were committed in seeing the conference through right to the end,
however the final decision was ultimately out of our hands. We thank you for your patience and ongoing willingness to embrace an event that saw the long anticipated and auspicious collaboration between AIK Ltd and AKA Inc.
After two years of working on this event with 4 postponements, rescheduled dates and all the work involved therein, the conference committee is now enjoying a well-earned rest. We fervently hope that the next face to face conference will not be too far in the distant future – and that we can interact and enjoy each other’s company without face masks, elbow bumps and hand sanitisers.
With warmest regards from Franca Wild (Conference Coordinator), and Karen Humphries, Marisol Serafin, Amanda Schembri, Molly Brumm (Conference Committee)