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Well the DAA conference has come and gone for another year!  What a conference though with more than 800 delegates converging on Brisbane.  As part of the organising conference, I hope you enjoyed your time at the conference and in Brisbane. 

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Professor Ian Frazer, Australian of the Year 2006, inventor of Gardasil (HPV vaccine), and CEO of the Translational Research Institute, opened the conference in Brisbane.  Ian discussed the importance of translating the evidence we already have and the challenge we have today to manage health care costs.  However, we also have lots of opportunities, and that we, as dietitians, have the nation’s future health in our hands, with one of the biggest challenges being over-nutrition.  A little known fact about Ian is that his first article was about the nutritional status of patients post gastric bypass – so he said “I am one of you!”

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Clare Collins presented on “The future is now: technologies for health care- enhancing our lives?” 

Clare stated that in 2012, 30 million Australians owned mobile phones, 22 million had mobile internet subscriptions, and there was a 104% increase in ownership in mobile phones the previous year. 

Clare talked about when you google dietitian, DAA fortunately comes up first, but other non-dietitian professionals also show up.  Why doesn’t the public know who we are?  It’s frustrating to be bypassed for untrained nutrition professionals.  We care as dietitians, having empathy and listening to our clients.  What we need is evidence that matters and shows we make a difference clinically.

There are many technologies available to assist in health care, such as devices to quantify self health-care data and virtual reality programs to teach people about healthy choices.  Clare discussed using technology in our practice, for example, a virtual hospital being used by University of Newcastle and, which operates a virtual dietitian clinic.  And of course, there are many apps available to us.  Clare recommended Australian apps using local data such as Easy Diet Diary, Food Switch and a new app soon to be launched by the Australian government, Shape up.  In addition, Clare and her team have developed

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Clare challenged us to have a quality website, value add to our services by using evidence based practice, and use IDNT so we can benchmark outcomes across the world.  Clare encouraged us to embrace technology to enhance the business and client experience, and to conduct research and market dietitians in ehealth so that we can lead other health professions in the ehealth space.

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Glenn Capelli was charged with being the master of ceremonies of the conference.  And what a fantastic job he did incorporating fun, sign language, and music throughout the conference.  Glenn’s opening presentation was titled “Dynamic Conference Thinking”.  Glenn talked about it is not enough to give people data, we have to teach them what to do with it.  It’s not enough to know, we have to apply and use data.  And just because something works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. 

Glenn explained the differences between tame and wicked problems.  Tame problems are linear, have a single aim and a single correct answer.  Whereas with a wicked problem it is hard to know what the real problem is; it’s hard to define; we can’t tell where they start and end; and there is no singular answer.  Wicked problems require group thinking to solve.

For more information about Glenn see

What an opening!



By:  Maree Ferguson

Photos courtesy of Lina Breik and Ekta Agarwal