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Conference that unites, informs, educates

“The conference is a great opportunity to get updates from across the sector at the Commonwealth and state level, from industry, hospitals and academia. You gain a variety of different perspectives from those who attend,” says Madeleine Peters, senior project officer, NSW Health.

For more than 30 years, the who’s who of the therapeutic goods sector has gathered in Sydney for the annual ARCS conference. What began as a relatively modest gathering in 1991 has grown into a three-day program of keynote addresses, informative sessions and networking opportunities attracting more than 1500 delegates.

“From small beginnings, the conference has become the biggest of its kind, bringing together an audience that includes people from all over Australia working in the regulatory, clinical, scientific and medical fields,” says ARCS CEO Dr Shanny Dyer.

Addressing industry challenges

Kathleen Irish, Manager of clinicaltrialsNSW, has been attending since 2013 and, thanks to funding from NSW Health’s Office for Health and Medical Research, she has extended the traditional offer over the last three years, of 100 tickets to colleagues; to provide extra support to rural, regional and remote Australia. .

“The ARCS conference excels at bringing together the great variety of stakeholders in our sector,” Kath says. “Having everyone in the room to have conversations and address some of the pain points we are experiencing is vital.

“Because there is no mandatory registration for people working in human research, as there is for doctors and nurses who have to be registered in order to practice, there are no standard education pathways. A conference like ARCS provides a range of information and education catering to our industry’s diversity.”

Attending this year’s conference allowed Kath to take part in a new working group dedicated to resolving health workforce issues created by COVID-19. “That’s the strength of ARCS,” she says. “It provides a chance for everyone in the sector – from government to industry – to be represented and to embrace a common purpose. My contribution to the working group, which we hope will help to elevate and address some pressing problems, is an opportunity I would not have otherwise had.”

Conference sessions typically cover everything from regulatory issues and medical affairs to entrepreneurship and leadership. This year, delegates discussed cell and gene therapy, 3-D printed medical devices, eSolutions, the challenges of hybrid work, and new frontiers in medicinal cannabis, just to name a few of the topics. The new National Clinical Trials Governance Framework was also formally launched, and awards presented for innovation and leadership.

Office for Health and Medical Research booth
Office for Health and Medical Research staff helping out at the NSW Health booth

Networking and engagement

It’s the clinical trials content that appeals most to Madeleine Peters, a senior project officer with NSW Health, who works to enable clinical trials in rural, regional and remote areas.

“I have only been attending the conference for the past three years, but it is an event I look forward to,” Madeleine says. “It’s very useful professionally and I benefit in a number of ways.

“One of the most useful things is the networking and stakeholder engagement with people from interstate and across the state. You can set up meetings to catch up with people you may only see once a year, but discussions also occur quite naturally during the social events and breaks.

“The conference is a great opportunity to get updates from across the sector at the Commonwealth and state level, from industry, hospitals and academia. You gain a variety of different perspectives from those who attend.

“In a sector like clinical trials, where there are so many information sources and projects and players, it can be difficult to get all the information you need in one place. The ARCS conference enables me to keep up-to-date with what’s happening.  This helps to build relationships and promote engagement in projects. Especially for those living outside of Sydney, it offers access to a huge amount of professional development.”

Kath says the organisers are very responsive to sector needs. “ARCS reaches out to its membership to seek input on the sessions and streams,” she says. “While the conference is a networking highlight of the year for ARCS, the people who make up this community work year-round to improve the healthcare system in Australia and to secure the future of the sector.”

Updated 2 years ago