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Pacific Spirit Conference 2006

8 March 2006

Pacific Spirit Conference

A conference with a difference – that’s how the fifth biennial Pacific Spirit Conference being held at the Waipuna Convention Centre from March 22 to 23 is being described by organisers.

Hosted by the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) the two-day conference provides a forum for Pacific alcohol and drug practitioners to share and showcase their successes, discuss challenges and find solutions for the future.

“During this conference we’re going to be holding the mirror up and taking a good hard look at ourselves as Pacific peoples,” says ALAC’s Manager Pacific Programmes Metua Faasisila. “We’ll be looking at how we drink, what it is doing to us and how individually and collectively we can achieve change for our people.

“While a smaller proportion of Pacific people drink alcohol compared with the general New Zealand population, Pacific drinkers tend to consume greater amounts per occasion,” says Metua.

“With higher per occasion consumption the potential for a range of harms such as injury through accidents, falls, assaults, drink driving right through to domestic arguments, relationship problems and work absenteeism are also higher. As we say, it’s not the drinking that the problem; it’s how we are drinking.”

Metua says this conference is not about keynote speakers talking about the ideal.

“It is about us as Pacific peoples looking at ourselves. The success of this conference will be measured by what we as individuals do differently as a result – and if 200 odd people make changes then change is going to spread and make a difference in our homes and our communities.”

One of the changes for the 2006 Pacific Spirit Conference programme will be more time spent in conversation with clinicians regarding case studies and best practice intervention models.

“We also recognise the importance of our spiritual identity as a major influence and this will be themed throughout the conference as a basis for dialogue surrounding our healing practices,” says Metua.

“At most conferences you sit and listen to the key note speaker with a limited amount of time to discuss or question relevant issues. We wish to make this conference far more inclusive and give attendees more opportunities to contribute.

“The conference is an important arena to share information and this is achieved effectively by attendees sharing their experiences. We want everyone to take ownership of the content and themes – sharing and learning from each other.”

The conference has three themes

- Beginning the journey - turning theory into practice
- Tools for change - integrated models and best practice
- Who will you take on the journey? - unlocking the potential of our youth
Drama and cultural elements will be used to emphasise the themes.

ALAC Chief Executive Officer Dr Mike MacAvoy says this is the fifth Pacific Spirit Conference ALAC has sponsored and it reinforces ALAC’s commitment to supporting Pacific providers and communities to work together in order to identify and develop appropriate solutions to reduce alcohol-related harm.

Places are filling fast. Registration can be made online at Full programme details are also available on the web site.


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