What can I say about the 7th International Carers Conference that was held in Adelaide from October 4-6…..amazing, inspiring, challenging, thought provoking. They are only a few words that were mentioned to me by the many delegates that I spoke with over the three days. 550 people from all around the world gathered to recognise, celebrate and discuss the future of caring. Delegates included carers, researchers, policy and decision makers as well as service providers.

The first morning of key note speakers just blew me away. The emotion of Chris and Gary Hills describing Chris’ journey to independence was just amazing. Look Chris up on twitter via his handle @iAmMaccing, it was inspiring how technology has opened his world to the point where he now has his own video editing business. Dr Jordan Nguyen then dazzled us when explaining the many different technologies that are actually being used right now including augmented and virtual reality, drone taxis and he closed his talk showing a car he developed that was driven by a young boys mind.

A fantastic traditional welcome to country was provided at the beginning of the conference which was a real treat for everyone, especially those international guests. A big thanks to the Carer Support Network SA and to Minister Bettison who welcomed to the delegates to South Australia at the welcome reception.

The best thing about the conference was that Carers SA were able to send a great mix of carers and staff along to immerse themselves in the future of caring. Carers were able to attend from many of our regional areas thanks to the assistance of Ministers Bettison, Close and Snelling. When I managed to find those who attended, in amongst the 550 delegates, they all talked about being inspired and energised by talking and listening to very interesting people. For some carers I spoke to the technologies on display gave some hope for the future.

I was fortunate to have facilitated a session on driverless vehicles and it was fascinating to learn that this technology is active in South Australia, Darwin and in many places over the world. The fact that it is a reality definitely challenges peoples thinking but it is a technology that could potentially have so many benefits for carers. It isn’t far away!!!!

What I found fascinating at the conference was talking to the international delegates who all were experiencing differing levels of support in their home country. The advanced nature of support for carers in the UK was inspiring as was the surprise of the lack of services within the US. It shows that despite our challenges we have sophisticated support services compared to some. This won’t stop us pushing for better supports though!

I was fortunate to have been involved on the Steering Committee for the conference and was able to see Carers Australia staff, Skye Owen, Anna Judith and Paul Irvine pull together what was a great conference. A huge thanks to them for the wonderful job they did.

The conference definitely challenged me in a number of ways, specifically what is facing carers in the future and how can Carers SA embrace some of the technologies to ensure carers can be better supported. That continues to be my challenge and will be so for some time to come and these three days increased rather than dampened my enthusiasm.