Attracting delegates from across Australia and abroad to our national capital, the 30th International ACHPER Conference was a resounding success on all accounts. 

Guided by the core theme ‘Participation in an active and healthy life’, with  sub-themes covering executive purposes, taking a strength-based approach, valuing movement, health literacy and including a critical inquiry approach, the biennial event sought to challenge and inspire health and PE educators from across all sectors. 

“Our conversations and keynotes were really about the student voice,” ACHPER’s National Executive Director, Alison Turner says. 

“So really about gaining academic insights, evidence-based knowledge, and then interpreting that into what’s actually occurring in our schools and with our students.”

Offering an assorted line-up of renowned keynote speakers, Turner says delegates were treated to a range of new perspectives and insights to take back to school. 

Sports psychologist and former Olympian Gaylene Clews was one such presenter. 

“She was talking about resilience building through an athletic perspective, but also how the brain is actually wired to perform. 

“So, enabling peak performance to come about not only through an athletic spectrum, but also through schools and resilience building,” Turner shares. 

 Dipping into her new book Wired to Play: The Metacognitive Athlete, Clews touched on the importance of mental health in both the classroom and in sports performance. 

The issue of mental health in sport was tackled from another angle by Professor Donna Cross from the University of WA and Telethon Kids Institute, who spoke about the positive impact that supportive school relationships have on children’s lifelong health. 

Another keynote delivery from Professor Philip Morgan, who shared the impact of father-daughter relationships on girls’ involvement in physical activity, drew a strong response from fathers in the audience.

 “A lot of people … were actually able to reflect their own personal experiences with their daughters and really [take] note, and take up the challenge to be more involved,” Turner recalls.

At its core, the conference provides a unique platform for conversations to flourish between academics and teachers.