President Piece – 30 September 2014

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Hello Members, 

I am writing this after the fantastic 2014 DTA Conference held in Adelaide. What an amazing three days! The pre-conference workshops and conference time has been a wonderful and enlightening journey.
I know that many of you developed new acquaintances or renewed old ones. This is part of the immense benefit of an annual conference. In the big scheme of health services, we are often isolated in our daily working routine; to be able to call on a support person, or even better a support network is vital.

The theme for this year’s conference was shaping diversional therapy: from theory to practice. When the call for papers went out, authors were invited to prepare papers that would inspire professional practice, to motivate, stimulate and encourage, to invite new vision or to renew commitment to the DT role, with a view to exploring the relationship between theory and practice. DTA were privileged to put together a diverse program designed to offer many opportunities to motivate, inspire and encourage. My challenge to all present was to take away at least one new practice, new way of thinking or one new concept which inspires, invigorates, or renews. 

Of note this year, we embraced 15 delegates from our sister organisation Diversional Therapy Japan, capably led by Takako Serizawa DT Japan President. In ensuring the 2014 Conference was a truly international affair, we had 4 delegates from New Zealand. The NZ girls worked hard for 12 months to fund their trip, from markets, to garage sales, even a cake stall where residents contributed by baking cakes to ensure their staff could come to the DTA Conference! Three of the delegates from Japan entered posters and Takako presented on the SONAS program, demonstrating the significant benefits of the DT program. 

I would like to acknowledge the generosity of all the sponsors of this conference, in particular the major sponsor TAFE, SA. This generosity allows DTA to further promote the DT role and practice through the variety of awards on offer each year. This year saw the introduction of the Inaugural DTA Award for Excellence. This award was developed to recognise a DTA member who has exhibited excellence in DT practice, and has contributed to the wellbeing of the individual and the organisation or facility or community environment, whilst also encouraging personal and professional development. It asked for the action of that imagination, desire or belief of the Diversional Therapist. 

I was involved in the judging process of this award, and am proud to state the standard was high; however, there was one very clear and outstanding presentation. Lindl Webster from Avondale House wrote on the Avondale Technology Design Challenge. Lindl has given permission for her presentation to be published on the DTA website. I would implore each of you to seek out and read this presentation, I have no doubt you will be as captivated and impressed as I was.

The cocktail party this year was a resounding success. The evening was well attended, and we were especially proud to welcome Rachel Sanderson MP, Member for Adelaide as the guest speaker. It is truly refreshing when a Member of Parliament can speak to a group with sincere confidence; Ms. Sanderson was certainly able to do that. She held a strong awareness of the role of the Diversional Therapist and spoke with poise and assurance to the crowd.
A quote Ms. Sanderson has adopted during her career and used in her maiden speech to parliament is from Paul Meyer – What you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon, must, inevitably come to pass. 

This quote is especially relevant to DTA and the role of the Diversional Therapist in practice, and dovetails perfectly with the topics presented in the conference. It was motivating at the conference to celebrate that what we, as practitioners vividly imagine, ardently desire and sincerely believe is in promoting active engagement, freedom and choice, quality of life, wellbeing, and the continuation of life enjoyment.

And so to the next 12 months. The immediate challenge for Diversional Therapists and DTA is to maintain enthusiastic action. Dr Alf Colvin spoke to this when he asked each of us to extend and move to the next stage of our profession. Daniella Greenwood and keynote speaker, Caroline Ellison, both presented with passion in asking each of us to consider what consumer directed care can look like within the environment in which we are employed, and imploring us to embrace community development in the DT role. In fact, each presentation or poster represented the expression of vivid imagination, ardent desires and sincere beliefs.

At our planning meeting on Thursday several key initiatives were adopted. I am very excited to announce that the Board have agreed to adopt a part-time Executive Officer position. There will be more on this later.
Dr Leon Earle has been incredibly generous in offering his support to DTA in the role of advisor. Dr Earle, has had an extensive career, from advisor to Government, author of nine books, undertaken and presented research work on successful ageing indicators to Cambridge University, been selected as the Australian Gerontologist to address the White House Conference on Ageing; and Appointment by the South Australian Government to Chair the Ten Year Plan on Aged Care – this list is not exhaustive!

I believe the Advisor and EO roles, as well as the significant ongoing contribution of the volunteer Board and Portfolios will be instrumental in moving DTA to a place of acknowledgment and awareness as the peak body representing the Diversional Therapist.

However, this shift is reliant on the work of many. You have a great Board representing you, but we are small in number. In order to move forward at a pace which ensures DTA remains current alongside its Health Profession peers, we need a much greater workforce. I want to be very blunt with you – DTA does not have a choice – we need to adapt, move in differing circles, take a more political stance, and keep pace with technology.

I would implore all of you to consider if you can take a role with your peak body – you may not feel you wish to commit to a Board position, but you might be able to support one of the portfolios in a short term project. Some projects are only of three months duration, whilst others are more ongoing. This is your peak body – embrace it, be part of it, without your support and input, the Board cannot move as fast and furious as you would like. Again, this is your peak body – you should be involved! It is your professionalism at stake. Please take note – there are other allied health professions out there that would absorb the DT role. 

I cannot be more sincere in shouting this out to you. The time for saying “we should”, or “let’s think about …” are gone. We need to do this! In Dr. Colvin’s words – we need to move past the Mary Poppins stage and into the realms of professionalism.

Please contact the office if you would like to speak further with a current Board member about the portfolios.

Louise Absalom

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