Delegates all smiles at the International Symposium on Dental Hygiene in Brisbane
Words by Roisin McGrath — ISDH Organising Committee Chair
An engaging pre-promotional blitz, an appealing location and a packed program led to a delegate turnout above and beyond the most optimistic projections at this year’s International Symposium on Dental Hygiene (ISDH) in Brisbane.
The highlight of the global oral health calendar
The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre hosted over 1,100 delegates at the ISDH from August 15-17. The symposium — which we ran in conjunction with the professional conference organisers at ICMS Australasia, with assistance from Brisbane Economic Development Agency — brings together dental hygienists, and other oral health professionals, from 34 countries around the globe. It provides an important forum for the sharing of knowledge, the building of understanding, and the discussion of issues related to oral health.
The theme for this year’s Symposium was ‘LEAD’ — leadership, empowerment, advances and diversity. The goal of the symposium was to uncover the vital role dental hygienists play as primary healthcare providers through the exploration of evidence-based and innovative approaches.
The keys to success
A captivating pre-promotional campaign, carried out with the support of Brisbane EDA, was a major factor in attracting delegates to this year’s symposium. Merchandise distributed in the lead-up to the event including pins in the shape of a boomerang; boomerang-shaped postcards; and clip-on koalas helped to drive interest in Australian culture.
Delegates were also encouraged to submit a photo of themselves with the clip-on koala in unique or famous places within their home country, which helped to generate excitement and engagement amongst Federation members.
Choosing the best location for the symposium was essential. Brisbane is a modern, vibrant and beautiful city with a world-class Convention & Exhibition Centre and much to offer both domestic and international visitors. The subtropical climate and year-round outdoor lifestyle made Brisbane the perfect choice, particularly when trying to entice dental hygienists from the northern hemisphere to spend their ‘summer vacation’ in Australia.
With a vast array of shops, restaurants, green spaces, cultural activities and sporting events to enjoy, we knew there would be something for every type of delegate to do in Brisbane. Many of the delegates chose to arrive a few days early, or decided to stay for a few days afterwards, so they could enjoy Brisbane to the fullest.
With the assistance of Brisbane EDA’s Business Events team, over 250 delegates were able to purchase go Event travel cards, granting them unlimited use of Brisbane’s convenient and extensive public transport system at a discounted rate, so they could spend their free time exploring everything the city has to offer.
Culture and entertainment
As well as the fantastic speakers and networking opportunities that delegates have come to expect at the ISDH, the program included a number of highlights, including a gala dinner at Howard Smith Wharves – Brisbane’s newest riverside dining, events and entertainment precinct. This social event was spectacular from the stunning location on the Brisbane River to the fabulous venue, entertainment, food and overall atmosphere, I think ISDH 2019 delegates will talk about this night for many years to come. Delegates who attended the dinner got to experience the waterfront lifestyle that Brisbane is known for, as well as take in the view of the iconic Story Bridge.
Another highlight of the program was the opening ceremony, which contained a powerful and moving ‘Welcome to Country’ performed by Nunukul Yuggera, as well as a traditional dance performance that had the audience up out of their seats. This was well received by the delegates, particularly those that had never been to Australia or experienced a traditional indigenous performance before.
We were also thrilled to have Australian wildlife on show throughout the conference, with handlers roaming around the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. Delegates could touch, get up close and personal and get photos with the animals. The food on offer throughout the symposium also had an Australian focus, and used traditional Australian ingredients. That theme carried through to the closing ceremony, as the Australian Girls’ Choir performed iconic Australian songs like ‘I Still Call Australia Home’.
Our celebrity speaker, Anh Do, was another big hit. Anh spoke about his life journey, from his arrival in Australia as a Vietnamese refugee to becoming a successful author, comedian and artist. Many of our international delegates had never heard of Anh before, but they rushed out to buy his books immediately after his presentation.
The feedback we’ve received from our delegates about Brisbane has been nothing but positive. The post-symposium survey responses were full of comments about the excellent location, and what a wonderful host city Brisbane was. We’re so pleased we made Brisbane part of the ISDH 2019 story, and we were able to offer our delegates a quintessential Australian experience.