When the 2020 Professional Staff Conference committee convened to discuss potential themes for this year's conference in March, the Australian bushfires were top of mind. We had seen how both staff and students from across Australia had been impacted by the bushfires, and we discussed how important resilience is in the face of adversity.
At the time, COVID-19 was beginning to spread throughout Australia, too, though none of us could have predicted just how disruptive this virus would become. We anticipated how we might need to change our ways of working, should the virus continue to spread, and discussed how resilience would be important to get through this crisis as well. We decided on the theme of "Building Resilient Futures" as it would encourage forward-thinking in the midst of whatever challenges we might face in the coming months. Just weeks after that first brainstorming session about themes for the conference, the committee had shifted to working entirely remotely, in line with COVID-19 restrictions.
As we continued to plan for the conference from our home workstations, we developed the sub-themes of "Adapting to Change" and "Building Capabilities." We saw that it would be essential for professional staff at the Uni to be comfortable adapting to change this year, as further change was inevitable given the ongoing and widespread effects of COVID-19. At the same time, professional staff would need to build their capabilities and skill sets in order to best respond to these changes.
The keynote speakers, panel discussion and individual sessions held throughout the 2020 Professional Staff Conference tied into our main theme of Building Resilient Futures, and we hope that attendees were able to walk away from the conference with enhanced skills to embrace change and build capabilities for the future.
There were 1688 staff registrations from across the university to attend the 2020 virtual UOM Professional Staff Conference which spanned over 5 days (Monday 14th September to Friday 18th September 2020), with an average attendance rate of 70%.