Longreach to host 50th anniversary ICPA conference

Longreach a controversial choice for 2021 federal ICPA conference

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The western Queensland town of Longreach is the 2021 venue for the federal conference that will honour half a century of the Isolated Children's Parents' Association.

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The western Queensland town of Longreach is the 2021 venue for the federal conference that will honour half a century of the Isolated Children's Parents' Association.

The decision, voted on during the federal ICPA conference being held virtually this week, was not without controversy.

At the Griffith conference in 2012 a hotly-debated resolution was passed that favoured federal conferences taking place in state capitals, in the interests of accessibility via air travel and the amount of time put aside to travel to the annual event.

Former federal president Roxanne Morrissey reminded conference attendees of that when she stated the Yalgoo WA branch objection to the motion put up by Queensland's state council, "that in light of 2021 being a celebration of the 50th year of ICPA Australia, federal conference be held on the 28/29 July in the regional location of Longreach, Queensland to best reflect the grassroots of our organisation for this significant milestone year".

The resolution eight years ago called for conferences to be held in a location that had a direct flight from all capital cities in Australia, with the exception of Tasmania, and Ms Morrissey said Longreach didn't fit that criteria, which would be an inhibiting factor for attendees.

"Given it's 50 years, it would be great for everyone to be able to attend," she said, citing extra accommodation costs as another deterrent.

Fellow federal life member Jane Gloster feared that a conference at Longreach wouldn't be accessible for media or politicians but Belyando-Mt Coolon delegate Jocelyn Sullivan said she'd been to conferences "in the big smoke" that politicians hadn't attended.

Both she and Queensland council emphasised the importance being placed on helping rural communities battling the ongoing challenges of drought, plus COVID-19 restrictions.

Queensland vice-president Wendy Henning said choosing a location wasn't something they'd taken lightly and were looking into funding agreements with both Alliance Airlines and Qantas.

Thanks to a resolution last year that made the conference location a joint decision between federal council and the hosting state, the motion was able to be considered and was passed 53-13.

Queensland ICPA councillors and patron Trish Mitchell, pictured at their last gathering, are excited to have the chance to welcome delegates from around Australia to Longreach in 2021. Picture supplied.

Queensland ICPA councillors and patron Trish Mitchell, pictured at their last gathering, are excited to have the chance to welcome delegates from around Australia to Longreach in 2021. Picture supplied.

Longreach last hosted a federal ICPA conference in 2009, while the regional centres of Toowoomba (1992), Roma (1997), and Charleville (2002) have been other venues.

The last federal conference held in Queensland took place in Brisbane in 2015.

The rural lobby group, which has gained a reputation as one of the most effective for the cause of geographically isolated families in the country, began in Bourke, NSW in April 1971.

Families were struggling with drought and its consequences, including the effect on the education of their children.

The late Mrs Pat Edgley, MBE, called a meeting to save the Bourke Hostel, which serviced families in the outlying district, from closure, and the resulting movement spread across rural and remote Australia.

Related: Outback families struggle to pay for remote education

The story Longreach to host 50th anniversary ICPA conference first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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