President Report – AGM 22nd November 2016

Good evening everyone.

I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on the last 12 months and to share with you some of the key highlights.

Several years ago, the Board made the decision to create an Executive Officer role, specifically designed to support strategic growth and development.  This role has taken DTA into a new realm, with a focus on strategic and business planning. This planning has been the basis of everything the Board and DTA office have undertaken. As a result, DTA has been able to offer some new initiatives, and has moved to a more positive position in terms of growth and development.  I congratulate the Board, firstly on adopting this initiative, and on retaining a strong focus and commitment in moving through the past 12 months. Specific initiatives have included a study tour of Japan, a DTA cruise inclusive of gaining a mental health skill set qualification, the further development of educational opportunities and liaisons with Skills Training Australia, engaging with 180 degrees consulting in identifying new revenue generation strategies, developing professional relationships in support of ongoing training opportunities and continued marketing of DTA at the political level.

At the 2015 conference, we were all challenged to claim that space! This was about recognising the range of applications for Diversional Therapy, and putting ourselves forward as professional practitioners in claiming that space. This year, DTA has moved into new and exciting areas, in claiming yet another space – the global space! Contacts have been made around the world – from England, South Africa, America, Canada, Jamaica, and of course New Zealand and Japan. Several key Board members have stepped up to the brave challenge of cold calling new contacts and using IT systems such as skype, to develop those contacts. There is now a growing group, all wanting to share and learn from each other. For example, a document has now been put together identifying the similarities and differences for the education and profession, which we term Diversional Therapy. What has been interesting, has been the conversations with key stakeholders from other countries, and realising that these associations and organisations face very similar issues and problems to what we also face in Australia. The growth in DT friendship has extended to invitations to attend international conferences; in fact, Darren Robinson will represent DTA next year as he presents at a conference in America. These are great strides in developing a global awareness of what we term diversional therapy. As a member base, this growth is something to embrace, and be very proud of. I would encourage any members with an interest in building International Relationships, to get in touch with the office and join in with this growing international body. Think to the future and how exciting it is that diversional therapy is being recognised globally – and how this will support awareness within our own country.

Our conference this year was based around navigation and inspiration. The calibre of speakers and the messages they portrayed, delivered a clear message – the space of what we call diversional therapy is exciting and with significant growth opportunities. Drs. Kathy Peri and Gary Cheung threw DTA a wonderful opportunity in the roll out and training of  Cognitive Stimulation Therapy across Australia. This will also build awareness and understanding of our respective roles whilst also claiming another space, in the community realm, and in private practice. Again, if you missed these two at conference, get in touch with the office to find out about these exciting opportunities. These two prominent international Doctors, highly trained professionals in their fields, acknowledge and respect the role of the Diversional Therapist; they are very keen to work with us and with you! This relationship, built on professional respect, highlights how Diversional Therapy is moving into new and exciting areas, and claiming new spaces!

I would like to take this opportunity to express a heartfelt thanks, on behalf of the Board and members, to Margie and Diana. DTA as we know it, would not function without the dedication of these two. I know they both work far above expectations, and often under trying times, and I would like you all to join with me in thanking them.

This report is my final task as President of DTA. I look over the past four years and yes, there have been challenges, but it is through this we grow and develop. I am incredibly proud of how the respective Board members I have worked with, have applied themselves in promoting growth and development of Diversional Therapy Australia, from supporting the working members, to engaging at the political and strategic levels. A Board position does carry a workload, however, the benefits far outweigh this, and I feel privileged to have known and worked with so many wonderful committed people.

I believe DTA is on the precipice of change. There is much to look forward to, and incredible new areas to move into. I would like to invite you, the members, to take hold of this change process, and to develop you own skill base as you move into the future. You are wonderful professionals; part of a unique group, in a very exciting stage of professional development. Keep moving forward, keep claiming those new spaces, use the innovation available to you, as you navigate your professional future.

Thank you

Louise Absalom

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