Delegates enjoy the best of the Top End at Australian Ornithological Conference 2019

BirdLife Australia’s #AOC2019 had over 350 delegates to Darwin from all over Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Lithuania, England, America, China and India. AOC2019 organising committee chair, Amanda Lilleyman, from BirdLife Top End shares some highlights…

Amanda was in charge of organising the program – and what a program! Interest in the conference was so high that, for the first time, three concurrent sessions were offered! Amanda explains:“This had never been done at an AOC,  and some people were against it, but I saw it as an opportunity for the AOC to grow as the peak scientific  event for ornithology in Australasia”.

The program included a strong focus on science and methodology, but also problems faced – and a focus on solutions. Many centred on a theme – eg citizen science, new technologies, waterbird movements specifically. There were sessions on woodland birds, seabirds, and a raptor symposium. There were also general talks around genetics and reproduction. The program and abstracts are all available for download from the AOC 2019 website here.

Amanda and the organising committee also planned the AOC from the start as an opportunity to “Showcase our tropical Top End lifestyle” and let the NT government and NT Tourism know that birders, and ornithology can bring money and opportunities to the region. So all the lucky delegates got to experience the “best of the Top End” with a conference dinner at Crocosaurus Cove, night markets and the best birding and nature tours from a number of local operators.

The energy and good will at the conference ran very high in the tropical winter,  and Amanda says “We all agreed on a conference statement based on our collective voice representing the Australasian ornithological community. “ The statement “Extinction is not inevitable” may be read here.  

Amanda explains “I think it’s really important to engage with the community, especially on the back of all our extinction crises news, that there IS something we can do, it’s not all doom and gloom, and it is up to us as individuals to put in the effort and help save some of these species!”

Other AOC2019 innovations included removing titles such as Professor and Doctor from the program, for inclusivity; and for sustainability: a 75% vegan menu for delegates!

Well done Amanda, and the rest of the team for an amazing conference! And a final note from James O’Connor, Head of Research at BirdLife:

“Just briefly, I wanted to let you know that the 10th Australasian Ornithological Conference in Darwin was a wonderful event, and that our excellent Birdlife staff did the organisation proud. I couldn’t have been more proud of the 18 staff who attended and gave a huge number of excellent presentations, posters, workshops and demonstrations, as well as attending committee meetings, judging student prizes and helping with communications, logistics and events. John Barkla did a great job of representing the organisation, including opening proceedings and attending the entire conference. The conference was amazingly well run by the local organising committee, headed by the indefatigable Amanda Lilleyman, and attracted a record number of delegates who, quite obviously, thoroughly enjoyed themselves”.

AOC2019 Delegates – credit: Charles Darwin University

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