Darwin: Driving Australia’s Medical Discussion

The Northern Territory is quintessential Australia: heritage-listed wetlands, wildlife parks, rock domes dating back 500 million years, and the home of national icon Uluru, after all. And while the region is rich in natural resources, it’s also a pioneer in agribusiness, international education and remote-area health services. After a day of productive meetings, you’ll be in the perfect spot to watch the captivating sunset over the sea right from the capital Darwin, the gateway to Northern Australia.

Darwin has particularly excelled in the sector of tropical health, responding to the growing health research needs of nearby tropical regions—which comprise 40 percent of the world’s population. As Australia’s leading medical research institution, Menzies School of Health Research has conducted research on malaria in over 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, saving thousands of lives in the process. The research facility is also home to RHDAustralia, the Australian government’s national coordination unit that helps prevent and reduce acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Australia.

The National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC) is strategically positioned in Darwin to ensure Australia has the best readily deployable medical workforce to rapidly respond to sudden health emergencies both across Australia, and throughout Asia. Darwin’s NCCTRC has a renowned international reputation for excellence in health training and is a key element of the Australian Government’s disaster and emergency medical response to incidents of national and international significance. The also NCCTRC provides clinical and academic leadership in trauma and critical care.

Darwin’s cutting-edge research and top-notch facilities are drawing the attention of international congresses like the World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses (WFNN), which recently announced it will host the 13th annual congress at the Darwin Convention Centre in July 2021. Playing on a theme of “Create – Imagine – Inspire – Discover,” the congress will “provide a platform for an open dialogue about best practice that will challenge thinking to contribute to better care worldwide,” says Vicki Evans, WFNN Vice President and Scientific Chair.

Destination City

Last October, the Australian College of Remote and Rural Medicine and the Rural Doctors Association of Australiachose Darwin as the destination for the Rural Medicine Australia (RMA) Conference, the main national event for rural and remote doctors in Australia and abroad. “Darwin was one of those places we weren’t sure if everyone was going to make the trip,” explained Michelle Cuzens, the event coordinator. “Many of our delegates told us they’d never been to Darwin, and in our post-event survey, it was a massive stand-out that Darwin is a ‘destination city’—it turned out to be a must-visit, and for our delegates.”

RMA usually aims for an attendance of 500, but the four-day event was one of the largest yet, drawing a final count of 775 attendees with themes revolving around indigenous health, women in health, tropical medicine and innovation in remote settings—sectors Darwin specializes in. In big cities, it’s easy to lose delegates who head off to restaurants or are stuck on other sides of town, but having hotels within walking distance of the venue—and exclusive use of the Centre—helped delegates feel at home, with many exclaiming it was the best RMA yet. “Darwin is a capital city, but it’s smaller compared to other Australian cites, which made it special; the culture there is different and the pace is relaxed,” Cuzens says. “We recognised that immediately and tried to embrace it by bringing the NT into RMA and not just the RMA Conference into the NT.”

The full version of this article, written by Boardroom editor Lane Nieset, is available in the May issue of Boardroom.

Picture: Darwin Convention Centre (www.darwinconventioncentre.com.au)

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