Thinker in Residence Blog

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Conference, massage, conference

Posted by peggyhora on September 13, 2009

Barolla Valley

Barossa Valley

Friday was an all day conference at the Hilton in Adelaide and I was the keynote speaker at 9:00 am.  I went outside about 8:25 as I do every morning and waited.  And waited.  I called Kerryl and told her my car had not arrived.  She said, “You said you would take the free bus to the Hilton.”  Bloody hell.  I ran to the free bus towing my suitcase behind me (more about that later), jumped on the bus, had the driver tell me I was on the one going the wrong way and to get off at the next stop and cross the street.  A lovely stranger said, “Follow me.  I’ll get you there.”  We jumped off the bus, ran to the tram, got off two stops later and saw Jason Payne, the conference moderator whom I had met when I visited Canberra in ’06, standing in the foyer to greet me.  I screeched into the ballroom at 8:58.  It was the Australian Institute of Criminology DUMA conference reporting out all the statistics on drug use in the past year (think ADAM in the U.S.).  There were old and new friends and it was very informative.  Sue and I left around 4:00 and headed up to the Barossa Valley (thus the suitcase in the morning) for the Australian New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and the Law (“ands – apple”) 1 1/2 day seminar at which I had been asked to speak on mental health courts.  The drive up was beautiful as the hills are as green  as emeralds with our recent rain.  The Valley was settled by German Lutherans fleeing Germany because of religious intolerance.  Some of the old buildings in the towns look Bavarian.  The conference was at a lovely Novotel Resort on the edge of Tununda and I’d booked a massage for 7:30.  We checked in and checked out our rooms.  Beautiful.  A sliding glass door a patio overlooking not only the hills but vineyards with their grape vines all in a row.  Sue and I grabbed a glass of bubbly and shared a snack plate with feta stuffed peppers, hummus, kalamata olives and other goodies then I rolled off to the spa.  It was all very new age and aromatic and I enjoyed my first treatment in over a month.  The therapist said afterwards, “You are very, very tight.”  I told her my massage therapist Vanessa says I have the rhomboids from hell.  “Writing a new chapter: Contemporary Legal and Mental Health Issues Affecting Australia’s Indigenous Peoples” had incredible speakers and some of the top people in the field. The morning was kicked off by Hon. Ted Mullighan QC who is best known for a report on the sexual molestation of children in state care  (“The Mullighan Report”).  Dr. Maria Tomasic followed and shared her experiences with Aboriginal people in “The Lands” where many traditional people live.  She is tasked with providing mental helath services to people under very trying circumstances.  Besides the docs and lawyers, there were judges, police and traditional indigenous people in attendance.  We heard about everything from petrol sniffing to domestic violence programs that are more culturally appropriate for Aboriginal people.  There was a particularly poignant presentation by Richard Balfour, a clinical psychologist, on Anangu language that has implications for the very meaning of justice and a fair hearing.  I’m going to try to get him to do some judicial education on the subject.  I also heard lots of horror stories about interpreters.   Sue’s husband Andrew came up on Sat. night and it was fun to see him again.  I learned a lot and am very glad I went.  I also learned a new OZ phrase driving back to Adelaide with Sue: “Crazy as a cut snake.”  What a visual!

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