It was an absolute pleasure to welcome all participants to our 2022 VPA Conference - Leading with Courage, Optimism and Resilience, held at the Pullman Hotel on the 25 and 26 of August.

There were many highlights over the two days, most memorable being the excitement of all to be able to reconnect with each other as colleagues and rekindle old, as well as build new friendships. The VPA prides itself on the collegiality of our members, along with the wonderful professional learning and engagement on offer at our conference. 

Dr Adam Fraser opened the conference for us and it was wonderful to connect to the work he has been undertaking and highlight the importance of recovery. As school leaders we often understand this, but fail to act on it. The evidence is clear, through his work and the research of many others… that little moments of recovery, daily, weekly and monthly make a difference. We need to become much clearer in our profession of the boundaries between work and home, and hold the line on this to maximise our wellbeing.

Lynne Schinella took us on a journey with not just humour, but a clear message about the importance of understanding that we deal with differences each and every day. We have differences in the teams we lead, the students in our schools, our communities and our colleagues. Understanding our personal traits ensures we are more insightful in how we work with everyone for greater outcomes for all.   

Mark ‘Squiz’ Squirrell was inspiring in not only his career in the military, but more so through his international humanitarian work with the United Nations World Food Programme. He took us on a journey of extreme leadership and the importance of making decisions, with a key point that NOT making a decision is poor leadership. In each of his examples, communication and building relationships were key.

Dr Paige Williams engaged us through her research and challenged us even further about resilience, or moving beyond resilience and becoming antifragile, as the bouncing nature of being resilient, as we have found over the past 2 & ½ years, is exhausting.

The importance of working WITH others and not to, or for, cannot be understated. 

Our annual conference dinner was once again a hit. Congratulations to the 2022 Bank First VPA Study Award recipient, Simon McGlade, Principal of Mackellar Primary School, who was announced as the recipient of this award on Thursday evening. After the presentation of our 2022 Study Awards, our attendees quickly hit the dance floor!

Day two commenced with Kath Koschel sharing her  inspiring story with us. Her work encourages us to look very differently at how we see the world, especially the importance of delivering acts of kindness. Kath embodies all that our conference theme of Leading with Courage, Optimism and Resilience was about, and more so. Let’s not forget the importance of Kindness in all we do. I encourage you to all investigate the Kindness Factory which Kath spoke about and look at how the kindness curriculum may work within your school. 

APPA president, Malcolm Elliott, gave an update on APPA, followed on by AGGPA president, Pat Murphy with and update on AGGPA.

Dr Amantha Imber closed out our conference for us. As an organisational psychologist, she engaged us in not just the science of ensuring our schools are the ‘best places to work’, but also in the practical application of tools and strategies we can apply daily in aspiring to achieve this.

Thank you to everyone who attended our 2022 Annual Conference! Check out pictures from the spectacular two days below.