10th Global Health Conference
Date: 5 — 9 September 2014
Event Type: Australian Medical Students' Association 10th Global Health Conference, workshop, social events
Key achievements: SMC Conference & Function Centre's (SMC) Plenary Hall facilitated the largest ever AMSA global health conference. AMSA engaged a wider than ever range of speakers including, for the first time, a webcast featuring a high profile speaker from the UK
The Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA) holds its annual Global Health Conference (GHC) at various locations around Australia. It is an opportunity for medical students and postgraduates to meet, aiming to empower, educate and facilitate the discussion of global health issues.
AMSA were keen to secure a venue for their 2014 conference that would accommodate a larger capacity of delegates than ever before, to mark the 10th anniversary. In addition to the main event space, they sought a venue that would be versatile enough to facilitate numerous smaller sessions to be customised to suit.
It was important for AMSA to partner with a venue whose social and environmental values were aligned with their own focus on health and boasted the capabilities to deliver a multifaceted event such as the GHC.
AMSA engaged SMC to hold their GHC conference utilising the Grand Lodge for the main plenary sessions and the raft of alternate spaces for the breakout sessions throughout the conference schedule. The SMC was chosen not only for its large, interesting and versatile spaces, but for its unique architectural features, the superior technology it houses across all event spaces and importantly because of SMC's advocacy and integrity for environmental issues.
"SMC Conference & Function Centre was the perfect venue to reflect the association's cause. There was no challenge that couldn't be fixed and they (SMC) delivered the five-day event smoothly, helping us to achieve milestones and the new initiative of the featured webcast." ─ Deputy Convenor, Georgia Carroll
With double the delegates to accommodate; assembled from 22 medical schools, the 2014 GHC was a huge undertaking. As such, the SMC was engaged by AMSA 15 months prior to the event and the teams began collaboratively planning. Essential to the success of the planning phases and ultimately the GHC's success was a flexible approach on behalf of the SMC team. They recognised that the AMSA GHC convenors were a team of 14 full time medical students who do not have the benefit of a common 9-5pm work schedule within which to plan an event of this scale. At the heart of the conference was the intent to broaden the scope of what constitutes global health. Generally this was perceived as developing world health issues, such as aid. Whilst this is a key component, AMSA highlighted the cultural shift to involve local health concerns including: indigenous, disability, women's rights, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Integral to driving this shift in scope was the line-up of keynote speakers they welcomed to the 2014 conference. The AMSA widened the net of speakers, securing high profile keynotes including José Ramos-Horta and Julian Assange. José Ramos-Horta is a Nobel Laureate and the former president of Timor-Leste.
Julian Assange is renowned for WikiLeaks and political activism, both of which are connected to global health. His work on core medical practice is less well known - he designed software to protect data for overseas aid workers.
The presence and access of the high profile key note speakers was core to the success of the conference. Whilst José Ramos- Horta was able to be present in the plenary, Julian Assange currently secured in the Ecuadorian embassy in London was not. The SMC team worked with their audio visual services provider to develop a solution so the conference delegates were able to have real time access to Julian Assange and he was able to deliver an interactive presentation to the eager network of students.
The SMC team and their in-house audio visual services providers worked in partnership with Mr Assange's own technical team for many months in the lead up to the event to seamlessly organise for him to be streamed live via webcast technology Zoom. Together the technical teams conducted multiple tests in the days prior to the event to guarantee the delivery of the webcast was flawless to ensure the greatest event experience for the delegates.
The webcast was designed to allow Mr Assange to conduct a question and answer session with the 720 delegates.
The venue experience at SMC enabled the presence of an international speaker and was a first for AMSA. In working with the SMC team, AMSA was able to deliver a delegate experience unlike any other for the history of the Global Health Conference.
This was the result of a fibre optic broadband connection installed at SMC in 2012 capable of providing speeds of up to 100 mbps.
The whole team combined, over a 15-month time frame, to deliver a range of first-time achievements for the AMSA's GHC. The association commended the SMC's for its seamless delivery of the biggest ever GHC, with innovatively customised spaces, and the first live streaming of a speaker via webcast.