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2019 President’s Report

19 Nov 2019

It’s been another a busy year for IABC Canberra and the communication community we serve.

During 2019 some significant events have shaped the town we live and work in: a ‘miraculous’ federal election result; our most trusted institutions, the major banks, were handed down a damning report card; our rivers and waterways are suffering and so too are our farmers. We’ve seen the rise of the citizen and a new fervor in protesting for climate and rights; shockwaves from across the ditch as the fallout of the devastating Christchurch massacre was felt here; our journalists’ homes were raided and the Canberra Raiders had their premiership cruelly snatched away from them! Trust is down and so are interest rates; temperatures are up and so is the ire of citizens. And through it all, communicators must make sense of it for our stakeholders….

During these events in 2019 IABC has provided a community to share the challenges and successes of the communication profession in Canberra, and provided professional development to support and grow our members and their networks.

Professional development

We ran a full events calendar which included:

  • February – IABC Canberra ‘New Year’ Drinks
    With the theme of ‘new’, we kicked off a great start to the year with 40 or so enthusiastic communicators soaking up the last rays of summer with us at Walt & Burley on the Kingston Foreshore.
  • March – Influencing Government direction from outside the Canberra bubble
    Jamie Morse from Senate SHJ took us through the key regulatory battlegrounds which offer industry opportunities to influence policy outcomes in the lead up to the Federal Election how it may play out for industry and Government communicators.
  • April – Midweek Mingle – Politics and Polit Bar
    Just weeks out from the Federal Election we hosted you at Polit Bar in Manuka to catch up on the last minute gossip on polls, promises and ‘gotcha’ moments.
  • June – Communicating Space
    We went where we had never been before – to space – and brought you the fascinating story behind the branding and launch of the Australian Space Agency.
  • June – Midweek Mingle ‘Comms Clusters’
    Screw ups and stuff ups were on the table at Parlour Bar just a few weeks later. KPMG Partner and corporate affairs specialist, Mike Kaiser talked about how to turn those clusters into opportunities to reconnect with your stakeholders.
  • July – Live streaming and the Law
    We hosted social media managers to brief you on implications of the new Australian law relating to the sharing of violent abhorrent material online and what it means for private, non-profit and public sectors.
  • August – Corporate Rebels with IPAA ACT
    They’re young, their cool and they wanted us to start a revolution with us. Where do we sign up! We had so much fun bringing the Corporate Rebels to you in August. With utmost thanks to IPAA ACT to who were integral to helping make this happen.
  • September – Midweek Mingle – Crisis in Leadership
    We were privileged to have isentia launch their Leadership in Crisis report at our drinks event at the Kurrajong Hotel. The report provided insight into several organisational crises and how the leadership performed under the spotlight.
  • October – Gold Quill awards workshop – RESCHEDULED FOR 2020
    Victor Zalakos, seasoned Gold Quills award judge passed on his inside tips and advice to award hopefuls looking for recognition of their amazing communication work.
  • November – Midweek Mingle for Students
    We loved hosting our communicators of the future from UC and ANU at Bolt Bar in Aranda a few weeks ago. This is sure to be a permanent fixture in our event program going forward
  • November – End of year celebration
    Here we are at QT, celebrating and co-hosting with iSentia and wrapping up an amazing year of connection and learning.

A hard-working Board

Your Board met 11 times through the calendar year to plan our professional development program and manage the business of the chapter. I am thankful for the service of:

  • Victor Zalakos, Past President
  • Damian Tunney, Vice President and Treasurer
  • Leonora Nicol, Secretary
  • Amanda Dennett, Director of Membership and Communications
  • Michael Liu, Director of Events
  • Astrid Vasudeva, Director of Member Communications
  • Justine O’Brien, Director of Professional Development
  • Virginia Cook, Board member

As well as those who left our Board during the year:

  • Barbara Walsh, Board member

Please give your 2019 Board a round of applause for their efforts this year.


Our membership as at time of writing is 84 , although we interact with a wider network of about 500 communicators in Canberra. Corporate memberships are a valuable offering from IABC and increasing and maintaining our membership community will be one of the issues to be addressed by your new Board in 2020.

Part of a global organisation

IABC Canberra is part of the Asia Pacific Region of the IABC and our Board members interact regularly with the other Board Chapter leaderships to share challenges and exchange ideas on how to continually ensure we are providing value to our respective memberships.

Please note that the APAC Regional Conference, FUSION 2020 will now be held in late March next year Wellington, New Zealand. I urge to consider attending to you can connect and share with our regional communications community. The Wellington Chapter in particular closely aligns with this Chapter, being a government town similar to ours. And we all know that New Zealand has even better food and wine that Australia so what more reason do you need to go?

Our Past President Victor and Vice President Damian both attended the IABC Leadership Institute in Long Beach, California in February to learn more about running a chapter and the inner workings of the association. The Canberra Chapter scooped the Chapter Management Awards with wins in the Strategic Planning and Engaging with Students and Young Professionals categories. The APAC attendees plus Canada always form a strong alliance in sharing knowledge (and I hear, drinking prowess!) at the LI. Victor and Damian were both supported with stipends provided by our chapter to assist with some of the travel expenses for this trip.

IABC’s World Conference in Vancouver, Canada in June. Unfortunately none of our Board were able to attend this time but as usual it was a showcase of thought-provoking presentations on the future of our profession. Unbeknown to us, at the same time we were looking to bring the Corporate Rebels to Canberra they had also just been secured as the headline act at Worlds – spooky!

Our Vision for 2020

At my age the prospect of having 2020 vision less likely! Fear not, the new Board has a long term vision we crafted back in early 2018 to serve our members. In delivering this strategy the focus areas for 2020 will be:

Membership – we will continue to deliver value to our members, support them in their business cases to attain membership support from their employers and provide networking and professional development needs. As always, we are committed to bringing you interesting, challenging and thought-provoking presentations from leaders in communication, government and business. We will also look to continue strengthening our connection with communication students at our tertiary institutions to provide them opportunities to connect with industry via our members.

Recognition – We will encourage greater involvement with IABC’s Gold Quill excellence program; we have sown the seed in October with a beginner’s workshop and look forward to expanding on this program next year.

Development – we commit to holding our very first certification exams here in Canberra for CMP and SCMP in 2020. We look forward to outlining to you the benefits and the process so you can take advantage of this prestigious global certification program to benefit your career.

Closing thoughts

In doing all of this, it’s important to remember why we are doing it. Our professional development program is one of the big value items to the communications community in Canberra. It provides a forum to learn, to connect and to understand the broader place of a professional body to represent and foster the interests of communicators and the organisations we serve.

We are also grateful to our corporate sponsors: isentia and Cordelta Digital who have helped deliver our program in 2019. Thank you Vanessa, and Dan, for your continued support this year and we are delighted to continue our relationship with you next year.

Thank you also to our loyal long term members and to each of you for your support and friendship this year.

Although my term as President comes to an end today I look forward to supporting Amanda Dennett as President for 2020 and the entire Board in through another successful year of advancing the communications profession in Canberra.

Alison Senti

2019 President, IABC Canberra

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