Being the change at the FRSA National Conference 2018

Invigorated and energised – that was the feeling delegates left with, after the FRSA 2018 National Conference in Cairns.

More than 400 delegates registered to attend this year’s conference, at the Pullman Cairns International Hotel. Which was like a homecoming, returning to the location of the first FRSA conference in Cairns in 2008.

This year’s FRSA Conference program, was our biggest yet. Centred around the theme, Be the Change: Leaving no one behind, it featured a stellar line up of international and national keynote speakers, two insightful panel discussions and over 93 ½ thought-provoking concurrent sessions and one hour symposium in a range of streams from our brilliant mix of speakers.

Highlights, included a heartfelt keynote from Dr Jackie Huggins, on putting Indigenous voices at the centre of delivering services to our communities emphasising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island er people have many of the answers for closing the gap.

“I encourage you to follow the work of this most important project from the Australian Human Rights Commission to hear our voices and our views and consider how we might best work together to shape your services,” Dr Jackie Huggins said.

“I ask you to work with us, with our services forge partnerships where you can and challenge yourself and approaches by considering how the APO NT principles can apply to you and your organisations.”

A particular focus of Thursday’s program was Family Law – with a great scope of keynote speakers including Senator Amanda Stoker presenting on behalf of the Attorney-General, the Hon Christian Porter, Part-Time Commissioner to the Australian Law Reform Commission Dr Andrew Bickerdike and Judge Joe Harman.  Judge Harman shared from his own personal experience with family dispute resolution and Alternative dispute resolution and his views for the changes needed for the family law system.

“Litigation all too often is hell, FDR can’t guarantee that parents do not experience hell, ultimately that is up to them. But it’s the best chance we have and for those that genuinely engage with FDR and be doing so become instruments of change in their life and through themselves for their family and themselves,” Judge Joe Harman said.

As well as a panel discussion asking, what would the ideal family law system look like? With Judge Matthew Myers AM, Professor Rachael Field, Associate Professor Bruce Smyth, and Dr Andrew Bickerdike.


A networking highlight and all around incredible experience was the FRSA Conference Gala Dinner, set against a beautiful landscape backdrop at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. With a heart-warming welcome to country from Djabugay woman, Sandra Levers and a spectacular performance from local Tjapukai dancers, it was a night to remember.

Evaluation surveys were sent out to all who attended the Conference. We ask if you can please spend 5 minutes in providing us some feedback, we have an opportunity to reflect upon some of the highlights of this year’s conference and to lay down the challenge for the FRSA Conference Reference Committee and the FRSA team to make next year’s conference even better.

Whether or not you attended the conference, you’ll be able to access the PowerPoint presentations via the FRSA Conference page, just download the PDF program and click the session you’re interested in. Keynote presentations and Panel Discussions will be uploaded to FRSA’s YouTube channel in the coming weeks.

Thank you to the sector, our delegates, our partners, sponsors and exhibitors – thank you! Without your ongoing support our Conferences would not be nearly as successful.

Watch this space for details for next year’s National FRSA Conference.