ASHA Conference 2023

As mentioned in the previous blog, the recipients of the bursary for the 2023 ASHA conference in Mackay, Queensland were asked to send a short piece on their experience at the conference. Please find the report from Yongjun Qiu below.

ASHA conference 2023 was held at Mackay Exhibition and Convention Centre (MECC) from 19th to 23rd September, commencing with the welcome night at Mackay Artspace. Attendees received their name badge and a welcome bag upon checking in. I found the paper name badge was particularly unique, as it displayed an attendee’s name and affiliation and was decorated with colourful stamps. These stamps featured various animal shapes, representing different events held across the five days.

Entrance of the MECC

This was my first time serving as a session chair, and I felt a mix of excitement and a touch of worry about making sure attendees enjoyed their lunches on time. To ensure that the presentation slides were ready to go, I asked the presenters to upload their slides during tea breaks. Once the introductions of the presenter and the paper were done, the real challenge began. I had to multitask, starting my timer, preparing reminder cards, and engaging with the content. I could not resist checking the timer repeatedly to ensure I had enough time to remind the presenters. We managed to spare 5 minutes for Q&A and the session was successfully concluded promptly at 12:30 pm.

Most conference papers were presented in this room

I distinctly recall when Imelda Miller, in the session Archaeology, Collections, and Australian South Sea Islander Lived Identities: Synthesising a Five-year Project, used taro as an example to emphasize how materials can carry unique meanings for different people. I immediately connected with this notion as soon as she mentioned it. To me, taro is associated with a cherished childhood memory. My late grandmother used to prepare a sticky taro and pumpkin dessert for our family. I adore this dish because it makes me feel warm and safe when I think of it, and as a result, taro holds a special and deeply personal place in my heart.

Imelda Miller and Geraldine Mate during their presentation titled Pieces of Place – expressions of identity, in the present, in a different place.

The three-day conference was an amazing experience. I learnt so much when communicating with other enthusiasts during tea and lunch breaks. I would like to thank ASHA for awarding this bursary to assist my travel to Mackay. I am also thankful for the help I received from the 2023 ASHA Conference Organising Committee.

Mackay District Australian South Sea Islander Association hut, where we enjoyed our fieldtrip lunch.
An Aboriginal Sacred Tree conjoins with another tree which is known as the marriage tree.