One of the features of a successful system, be it an individual, family, organization or society is its capacity to reorganize in the face of external change. For a family these may be predictable and inevitable as individuals move through the lifecycle and require different arrangements between themselves and others in order to fashion an independent adult identity. Alternately they may be unexpected punctuation marks in the life of a family like a promotion that brings unexpected money or the unforeseen death of a child. Good or bad, such events test the capacity of the family to change and endure.
Recently many families in Melbourne and Sydney have once again been required to adapt to lockdown with all the constraints this imposes both individually and collectively and we know that not all families have adapted well.
Such adaptation has also been required of organizations, including the Australian Association of Family Therapy. The national conference scheduled for Perth in 2020 on the theme “D__ISTANCES Generational Impacts of Displacement and Resettlement” was cancelled and rearranged for the 9th and 10th of September 2021. Fortunately, given the current situation, AAFT has shown the foresight required by planning parallel conferences on a state basis and on-line delivery. In South Australia, the brochure prepared by a local subcommittee demonstrates this flexibility. “For the first time, the Australian Association of Family Therapy National Conference is being live streamed by our State Branch to include those who are unable to travel to Perth. Our programme will include all keynote addresses, enhanced by local South Australian practitioners following the conference theme. This includes a presentation by a team from Bower Place on “Language, Inequality and Change”, exploring the use of a client’s first language to work systemically in a way that addresses this fundamental inequality. Rural family therapists, Kirsty Tully and Abbey Walker will bring their expertise to the topic “Working with complex young people and their families in regional South Australia: The importance of working systemically.”
The Tasmanian branch of AAFT is also organising a local and accessible version in their state and planning is well advanced in Victoria for a conference that will adapt to local conditions. For those family therapists who cannot access one of these ’hybrid’ forms a fully on-line option is available.
This is an opportunity to connect with colleagues, share ideas and enjoy each other’s company. With the most recent lock downs such dexterity is to be applauded as more than ever those who work with families will welcome new concepts, enthusiastic dialogue and the support of each other.