Multicultural communities were significantly impacted throughout the pandemic, with higher rates of infection, complications, and misinformation. Access to reliable information was identified as the biggest issue, but the problem has always existed, and this what the National Multicultural Health and Wellbeing Conference (NMHWC) aimed to address.
Held across two days on 21 – 22 November 2023, the inaugural NMHWC brought together key health representatives and experts and provided a platform for discussion and collaboration. The goal of the Conference was not just to talk, but to be a catalyst for change; to improve access to information and services and deliver equitable health outcomes for Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) population.
The Conference explored critical challenges, best practices, and promising solutions with themes including racism and health, navigating the health system and access to digital health, inclusive and culturally safe services, health communications and language services and lots more.
The event was presented by the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA) and the Australian Multicultural Health Collaborative (AMHC) with support from NSW Health.
Situated in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, the stylish Sheraton Grand Hyde Park is a five-star hotel offering 17
flexible function and event spaces across 3 levels, and 558 premium hotel rooms. With its iconic chandelier and double staircase entrance, quality food and catering options, impeccable customer service and beautiful views across Hyde Park, St Mary’s Cathedral, and the city - the hotel is a traveller’s bucket-list destination and attraction.
For the NMHWC we booked Level 2 and part of Level 1, to utilise the following spaces:
Grand Ballroom 1 & 2 - both rooms were combined for the welcome reception, and each morning’s Plenary session and panel discussion. We then divided and reset the two space to deliver the concurrent sessions throughout the day.
Level 2 foyer area - was used for registration, the exhibition and poster display and catering. This space was also used for mingling and networking before, after and in between sessions.
Hyde Park Room –was used as a third room for concurrent sessions throughout the day.
Phillip Room 1 – was used as our production and speaker’s prep room.
Phillip Room 2 - was used for the conference activations including massages and therapy dogs.
Beaumont room on level 1 – was set up as our prayer room.
We were also able to help negotiate a special rate for accommodation of NMHWC delegates.
The Gala Dinner Venue:
A separate venue was secured for the Gala Dinner - the Ivy Ballroom located a short 10-minute walk away provided a sweeping 509 square metre space with 6-metre-high ceilings, a grand staircase entrance, a private balcony/ terrace and award-winning catering by the Merivale Events team. This new space was the perfect spot for Conference delegate to unwind and connect after a busy Day 1 of the Conference with great food and live entertainment.
NMHWC - Event Fast Facts:
5 JTPM staff
14 sessions across 3 rooms
4 Ministers speeches
3 keynote speeches
2 panel discussions
1 welcome reception
1 gala dinner
The two-day Conference program consisting of:
Welcome Reception: Monday 20 November
The Welcome Reception from 6 - 8pm kicked off the Conference with a welcome to country, live performance, and speeches. Conference delegates enjoyed drinks and canapes, and the opportunity to connect with fellow attendees.
Conference Day 1: Tuesday 21 November:
Welcome Plenary 8 – 10:30am including:
- Welcome to Country
- Opening Ministers Address
- Keynote speakers x 2
- Panel discussion
Conference sessions 11am - 1:15pm
3 Minute Angels & Therapy Dogs 11am – 2pm
Symposium 12 - 1:15pm
Lunch 1:15 – 2:15pm
Conference sessions 2:15 – 3:15pm
Conference sessions 3:45 – 5pm
Symposium 3:45 – 5pm
Exhibition/ Expo during all breaks
Gala Dinner 6:30 – 11:00pm
Conference Day 2: Wednesday 22 November:
Welcome Plenary 8:45 – 10:30am including:
- Opening Ministers Address
- Plenary Keynote
- Keynote speaker
- Panel discussion
Conference sessions 11am – 12:30pm
Symposium 11 – 12:30pm
3 Minute Angels 11am – 1pm
Lunch 12:30 - 1:30pm
Conference sessions 1:30 – 3pm
Symposium 1:30 – 3pm
Closing Remarks 3:20 – 4pm
Exhibition/ Expo during all breaks
Daily catering consisted of morning and afternoon tea and a buffet lunch, with a wide variety of warm and cold options and dietary requirements catered for. A selection of drinks and canapes was served at the Welcome Reception, with a sit down three-course meal including drinks offered at the Gala Dinner.
The Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner provided some wonderful social and networking opportunities amidst the otherwise content-heavy Conference. These mini events required separate planning and production to the Conference, with catering, speeches and entertainment provided at each.
Welcome Reception: held in Ballroom 1 & 2, this event featured speeches from FECCA and event sponsors, a welcome to country from Uncle Michael West from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and an incredible cultural performance from Gawura Cultural Immersions. Drinks and canapes were served while guests mingled and a media wall was available for photographs. The Aspiration Trees were also introduced.
Gala Dinner: held at the Ivy Ballroom, this sit-down dinner featured speeches from FECCA and sponsors, followed by three high-energy cultural performances – getting everyone up and carving up the dance floor!
- Karifi and the African Union Dancers – African drummers, singers, and dancers.
- Sirens Dance – enchanting Bollywood dance company.
- Worlds Collide – contemporary band blending cultures and music genres.
Dinner guests were invited to wear cocktail attire or cultural costumes to celebrate the diverse and multicultural Conference cohort. Drinks and a set three-course meal were provided, with tables of 10 allocated. A media wall at the entrance allowed for group photos, and we conducted video vox-pops with guests on arrival.
To unite Conference delegates, and to help bring the themes of health and wellbeing to life we created several activations and activities throughout the conference including:
Aspiration Trees: Conference participants were invited to share their goals and wishes for the future of multicultural health and wellbeing on a card, which was hung on Aspiration Tree's around the venue. These provided great talking points throughout the conference.
Wishing Lanterns: Gala Dinner guests were invited to share messages of hope or key conference take-aways on paper lanterns. Some of the messages were shared on the night, with the final lanterns presented as part of the Closing Remarks on Day 2.
3 Minute Massages: Offering attendees a few minutes of relaxation, the wonderful 3 Minute Angels provided neck and shoulder massages around lunchtime on both days.
Therapy Dogs: We had four Delta Therapy Dogs come to visit during lunchtime of Day 1, providing much needed cuddles and putting smiles on delegates faces.
To get Conference attendees excited, interested and more engaged, we enlisted the help of a couple of live and digital tools:
Live polls and Q&A’s: To help make the Conference and each session more interactive and collaborative, we used Slido and encouraged delegates to participate in polls and submit Q&As via their mobile phone. Each morning’s Plenary began with a word-cloud being displayed on the big screens, made up of key words and phrases submitted by participants relating to their aspirations for the Conference and insights from the sessions. These became great conversation starters and were even referred to by each of the Ministers in their opening speeches!
Graphic Illustrations: a professional illustrator was employed to capture conversations and insights from the symposiums and panel discussions in a live drawing which including fun caricatures of speakers, key words, and phrases from each session. The drawing was broadcast on big screens throughout the session, with attendees snapping a photo of the illustrated summary for their records. The final illustrations will also be made available following the conference.
Well done to these legends on successfully delivering the NMHWC:
· Michelle Ku
· Julia Truong
· Chloe Newell
· Victoria Buccheri
· Georjie Stegemann