I am delighted to be writing my very first “Words from our President”, having taken the reins from Prof Olivier Piguet at ASSBI’s AGM at the conference in Darwin on 5 May 2023. I feel incredibly honoured to lead such a vibrant, forward-thinking, impactful and inclusive organisation whose members care so deeply about working together to improve the lives of people living with brain conditions. ASSBI’s unique strength is its multidisciplinary, transdiagnostic scope, which allows rich exchange of knowledge and ideas amongst clinicians, researchers, students, policy makers, and people with lived experience of conditions affecting the brain.
I have been a member of ASSBI since I was a bright-eyed clinical neuropsychology student in the early 2000s. I have always loved ASSBI conferences and events, for both the high-quality, clinically meaningful content, and the top-notch social program which reliably features dance floor delights! This was never truer than in Darwin, at ASSBI’s first in-person/hybrid conference since 2019. I am still buzzing from the fun of it all. A full conference report will follow in the next newsletter, but for now – thank you and congratulations to Barbra Zupan and Lizzie Beadle for their superb job as convenors, the student team led by Aishani Desai for all of their crucial contributions, all our keynote speakers and presenters who beautifully showcased the diverse and important work that is happening in our field, and of course the inimitable Margaret and Matt Eagers, without whom we really would all flounder.
I’m also proud of ASSBI’s focus on supporting students through our student teams and ambassadors, events, awards, and other initiatives. I spent several years as the Student Liaison Officer on the ASSBI executive committee, which was a very rewarding role, and indeed quite easy given the amazing competence and innovative spirit of our student team and members. The next generation of clinicians and researchers in the brain impairment field are truly remarkable.
I would like to give an enormous thank you to Olivier Piguet for all his hard work during his two years as President. Olivier had the tough gig of leading ASSBI through the thick of the pandemic, and consequently gave his two Presidential Addresses online rather than in-person, thereby missing the rewards of a live audience. He was nevertheless unflappable, capable, and determined. He was instrumental in developing ASSBI’s 5-year strategic plan and ensuring our plans for the first year were successfully implemented. It has also been wonderful to have a dementia expert at the helm of ASSBI, which has been important for ensuring our scope includes all brain conditions, not just brain injury.
Enormous thanks must go to Emeritus Professor Robyn Tate, who is stepping down from the ASSBI committee as part of her attempts to “retire”. Robyn has been instrumental to ASSBI right from the beginning, and in fact was part of the birth of ASSBI in 1976, at the same time as I was busy being born. It is hard to put into words the phenomenal contributions that Robyn has made to ASSBI and to our field broadly. She has such a rigorous, careful, considered approach to everything she puts her mind to. Special thanks to you Robyn for all you have given, and for asking me to step into your shoes as President.
Congratulations also to our new President-Elect, A/Prof Barbra Zupan. In line with our aim to ensure multidisciplinary engagement with ASSBI goes from strength to strength, it will be wonderful to have a speech pathologist at the helm to give everyone a break from us neuropsychologists! Barbra is very active, positive, and hard-working and will undoubtedly be a fantastic President when she takes over in 2025.
In the second year of ASSBI’s 5-year strategic plan, there is a strong focus on growing and re-imagining the ways in which ASSBI engages with people with lived experience. This is a really important task and one which is very close all our hearts. The executive committee would welcome all your ideas about this, and how ASSBI can best complement the work of other organisations focused on advocacy for people living with brain conditions.
It'll be a busy couple of years ahead. It’s just as well we have such a strong committee and membership to share the work – and have some fun along the way.Dana Wong, President, ASSBI