AVETRA 16th Annual Conference Fremantle – Western Australia
3rd – 5th April 2013
Fremantle welcomed nearly 150 AVETRA delegates to a warm Western Australia. The Esplanade Hotel was a central venue in the heart of Fremantle with the nearby harbour and cappuccino strip giving us superb conference facilities.
We started at Challenger Institute on the edge of Indian Ocean with eight workshops and then a wonderful Welcome Reception as the sun set withocean views across to Rottnest Island. Liz Harris, CEO of Challenger told us about the history of the Institute and its recent success in winning the Large Training Provider of the Year award. The Challenger staff laid on a generous reception that made for a great evening for us and our thanks go to them for their generosity.
Day one of the conference began with Ben Taylor welcoming us to his country. Etienne Wenger, so often referenced in AVETRA papers, spoke about the development of the communities of practice theory indicating that our communities of practice are now intermeshed with our social networks.
Seven streams of papers were offered throughout the conference. Colleen Hayward challenged up with the realities of being an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person in Australia. What came through in her passionate and well measured address was the connected between learning, health and social circumstances for the development of our young indigenous people.
The first day of the conference concluded with the AVETRA AGM. We then made our way then to the Southern Success Harbour and the Fremantle Yacht Club, with views of myriads of boats and a blazing ocean sunset. Mario the Nearly Marvellous Magician made scarves appear from our sleeves and cards change in our hands leaving us baffled over canapés and drinks, while the Jazz band played. The food was sumptuous. The band from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts played a feature set for us. We recognised the contribution of our workshop facilitators and OctoberVET coordinators. The award for the Journal Article of the Year was won by Roger Harris and Steven Hodge and a well deserving Hugh Guthrie was given the Berwyn Clayton award for services to AVETRA.
Day two started with a wonderful address from Stephen Billett. Begining with a walk through history and how Aristocrats, Theocrats and Bureaucrats have shaped VET . Stephen produced an agenda for change and was immediately requested to run for Ministerial office by the audience. Philipp Gonan took us away to Europe and explained the German and Swiss SET systems, dissecting what we might take from the system but warning of cultural imperatives. His review was warm, erudite and connected with the Australian experience. Finally, Gavin Moodie presented a model of how VET is shaped by external discourses and the interplay between the media, interest groups, committees and policy, indicating how research findings might be have an impact on the system. In response Michele Simons, Jane Figgis (journalist), Liz Harris (CEO), and Asrida Upitis (DIISRTE) gave their views on VET futures.
We left with an invite from Stephen Billett to be in Queensland in a years time for AVETRA 17 and achieving the goal of 200 delegates. We departed to disperse to four continents taking many good memories and a strengthened network with us.
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