For the first time in three years, the Gowrie Victoria conference was able to bring all six services together in a day of celebration, recognition and inspiration. 

Held at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, the conference was a chance for staff to share their knowledge and experiences, with a range of panels focusing on Trauma Informed Practice, Pedagogy Framework, and Embedding Indigenous Perspectives. 

Gowrie Victoria Chief Executive Officer Susan Anderson said connection was the main goal of the conference, after being isolated for so long. “It was about seeing the strength of Gowrie Victoria and showcasing the amazing talent we have here,” Susan said. “It’s important to highlight and showcase our pockets of excellence and it’s empowering for staff to feel recognised and take pride in the work they do.” 

The theme of the conference was Impact and Susan said keynote speaker Ruth Clare highlighted the hidden impact teachers had made on her chaotic life. “She told us how teachers were an anchor for her and that really set the scene of profound, positive impact for the conference,” she said. “We were able to look at the impact we have on children and families and each other.”

The expertise and knowledge shared at the conference was a strong reflection of Gowrie Victoria’s learning values. “The exciting thing was we didn’t need to bring in external people for our panels,” Susan said. “We were able to showcase from within and everyone felt proud of their amazing work. It really fit in with our culture of coaching and sharing.” 

A survey of conference attendees revealed a high level of satisfaction with the day, with many commenting on the inspiration they found in meeting people from across the organisation and learning what different services were doing. One described the day as a “beautiful experience”, while another said the conference was well thought out, with “purpose and strong focus on educators and their work”.  

The sense of fun and camaraderie also highlighted the satisfaction and confidence many staff feel within the organisation and further served to inspire innovation and best practice. “This is the amazing work we do,” Susan said. “We are able to coach and develop each other and know that we can reach out to other services at any time for ideas and inspiration. It really did feel joyous.”