Welcome to the first issue of the Newsletter for 2021 and I hope that you are all settling well into year. As my own term of office as President of ASSBI will come to a close at the AGM on 6 May 2021, this Newsletter will contain my final “Words” as President. It has been an unexpectedly tumultuous two years, as we witnessed the devastating effects of natural disasters in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere during 2019-2020, and then the terrible COVID-19 pandemic which continues to change how we live and how the world works. My thoughts go out to any ASSBI member who has been personally affected by these events.
Thanks to the efforts of the ASSBI Committee, we survived 2020 with a best-that-could-be-expected outcome. Sadly, our annual conference scheduled for Perth in May 2020 had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. But there was a silver lining as our continuing education arm, led by Barbara Zupan, together with Skye McDonald and Margaret Eagers, sprang into action and mounted a stunning series of ASSBI 2020 Conference Bite Size webinars. Using this model, another series of eight webinars is scheduled throughout the year for 2021 (see details in this Newsletter). The silver lining has extended to how future conferences will be run. To this effect, the 2021 conference, ASSBI’s 44th annual conference, will be a fully hybrid event, with both face-to-face and online attendance possible. The 2021 meeting, known as the 6th Pacific Rim Conference, is a conjoint meeting of ASSBI, the International Neuropsychological Society, and the College of Clinical Neuropsychologists of the Australian Psychological Society, to be held in Melbourne. Details of this not-to-be missed, multi-layered event are described in this Newsletter. Registrations are now open.
Over the course of the past four Newsletters, I have kept the membership informed about discussions of the ASSBI Committee regarding an external review of the Society, which would be its first in 43 years of operation. In planning for this event we conducted a survey of the membership in May 2020 and I reported the results in the September issue of the Newsletter. During 2020, a series of working parties with various members of the Committee advanced planning about the type of review that would best meet ASSBI’s needs. The ultimate recommendation, which the Committee endorsed at its meeting on 28 January 2021, was that an initial necessary step would be to develop a strategic plan for ASSBI covering the next 2 to 5 years. The Committee is currently in the process of collating the information that will be needed for this purpose. We plan to engage an external facilitator to support the Committee with the strategic planning process and anticipate that this will occur in the second half of 2021.
In closing, it has been a pleasure and an honour to serve as President of this vibrant, multidisciplinary society over the past two years. I am immensely proud of the high-quality, diverse and enduring achievements of ASSBI – indeed, I cannot think of another society of our size of membership which can compete with what we offer: an ever-evolving professional development programme over the past 45 years since the very first Brain Impairment workshop in 1976; its own official journal, Brain Impairment, established 20 years ago; the niche filled with ASSBI Resources of evidence-based tests and interventions for clinical practice; an expanding social media presence to raise awareness of brain impairment and ASSBI; student involvement with our Ambassador programme and prizes for outstanding student research and clinical innovations; together with other ad hoc activities. I know that ASSBI will be in very good hands under the Presidency of Professor Olivier Piguet from May 2021. I extend special thanks to the ASSBI committee, together with those working on the separate arm of ASSBI’s journal Brain Impairment, all of whom work so diligently behind the scenes to ensure that ASSBI runs like a well-oiled machine. All this is facilitated by the superb and tireless efforts of ASSBI’s Executive Office, Margaret Eagers. I look forward to seeing everyone at the (online) AGM on 6 May 2021.
My very best wishes to you all,