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Apr 30, 2010

Is the health conference industry exploiting the public sector?

Why are public sector experts giving up their valuable time to effectively donate their public salaried time and expertise to IIR conferences that cost thousands of dollars to attend?

IIR Conferences has long been in the business of providing conferences, seminars and portentous sounding “summits”. Late next month, the third annual Preventive Health Summit is on in Sydney, highlighted on the brochure cover as “Australia’s Longest-Running Preventive Health Event” (no matter than the Public Health Association has been holding annual conferences for more than 30 years).

4 comments

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4 thoughts on “Is the health conference industry exploiting the public sector?

  1. Gavin Moodie

    Thanx very much for this piece. IIR and a couple of other commercial providers mount a few extraordinarily expensive conferences on Australian higher education each year, and like the author, I have never understood why either the audience or the presenters bother. Again as with Professor Chapman’s experience of health conferences, almost all the speakers and the audience at higher education conferences are from publicly funded universities. And it is not as if there aren’t perfectly good conferences on the subject mounted by universities and their various associations.

  2. Quitober Challenge

    Interesting reading Simon can you tell me if this is happening in other health sectors?
    I am trying to get to the gig in October for the Tobacco Control conference in Sydney this year
    being unfunded & just receiving NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) payments to do my campaign this year, the Quitober Challenge, I have sought special assistance to get there.

    Hey I got to thank you & Mr Mackenzie for your paper on unassisted cessation. Your paper has really influenced the direction I have taken & hopefully more smokers will be empowered by investigating all options for quitting especially the unassisted method.

  3. Rosemary Stanton

    Like Simon, I have received many invitations to these expensive conferences, usually on matters related to food and nutrition.

    I have also been invited to speak on a number of occasions. I did so twice. The first time I negotiated a fee – with difficulty because the organisers thought I should be honoured to be there. The second time (also for a fee, negotiated with difficulty) I agreed to speak because a particular government Minister was to be there and I had wanted to debate a few points with him. He didn’t show “due to urgent government business”. Day wasted!

    The audience was small on both occasions – 40-60 people. Most were involved in marketing foods or were also speaking. Some speakers were sensible enough to leave after their presentation. In my opinion, I would have shown even more sense by not accepting the invitation.

    After making a few complaints, the invitations have stopped.

    Rosemary Stanton

  4. [email protected]

    I only really discovered how these companies work myself this year after I received a phone call from someone ‘interested in the field’ who picked my brains about what is happening in my industry. I was only too happy to talk about it – after all, a big part of my job is to promote the industry. After the call I surprisingly received an email from the person outlining my talk at a conference – she had put together the abstract based on our conversation and I had no idea that she was from a conference company.

    I agreed to speak at the event after they reluctantly agreed to pay for my flights. I went so I could find out who would attend this $2K event. It was so poorly attended that aside from presenters, there was only about 14 people there. I spoke to other presenters at this event and we all had a similar experience. They also continued to advertise that I would be running a workshop, even though I told them I would not. They do this so that they can get contact details for their database. The whole thing was very dishonest. In the lunch break their people started picking the brains of another presenter for what is happening in his field and who they should invite to speak at the next conference.

    This is also bad for our industry because people new to the field attend – thinking they will be getting up to date information and network with the right people. They probably don’t realise until their $2K is spent that they have made a mistake.

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