The oral hygiene world comes to Australia for ISDH

The International Symposium on Dental Hygiene (ISDH) descended on Brisbane earlier this month. DHAA Membership Officer Christina Zerk reports.


The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre opened its doors to 1200 delegates from over 35 countries – a very special event for Australia and the DHAA who played a big part in hosting the event. Registrations opened early on the Thursday morning with the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition centre filling up fast as attendees registered. Friends and colleagues meeting up with each other and reunions for those who graduated together yet moved apart for work or personal reasons, the atmosphere was one of excitement. Sitting in the Grand Hall for an opening ceremony reminiscent of the Olympics was a truly wonderful experience. Festivities commenced with Roisin McGrath, Chair of the local ISDH organising committee, welcoming all attendees followed by a customary Australian welcome to country by Nunukal Yuggera. Delegates from each represented nation then entered the hall bearing their national flags. The cheers that arose as each nation took centre stage was an indication of just how many people had travelled from overseas to attend. Robbern White and Erin Taylor lead the procession carrying the Australian flag and the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island flags, and last, but not least, DHAA President Cheryl Dey and Vice President Tabitha Acret carried the DHAA flag to the stage where they were joined by the International Federation of Dental Hygienists flag bearers Robyn Watson, Corrie Jongbloed–Zoet, Wanda Fedora, Mary-Rose Pincelli and Michaela O'Neill.


After the opening ceremony the Exhibition Hall opened its doors allowing us a first look at the trade displays. With over 40 exhibitors there was certainly plenty to see and do in the breaks between speakers.


The DHAA lounge proved to be a popular feature, with daily pampering sessions available.

Meanwhile the DHAA stand was manned by staff and committee members as well as members from our special interest groups making themselves available to meet members, and our very own Cathryn Carboon sold and signed her book ‘Who is the Tooth Fairy’s Best Friend’. We also ran a selfie competition where attendees could take a selfie at the DHAA stand and post it to social media. All entries went into a draw to win a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne; Brisbane-based Alex Tsikleas was the lucky winner. A second competition was open to any members who signed up at ISDH to go into the draw to win a ticket to the DHAA Symposium 2020 being held in Melbourne.


After lunch, keynote speakers Dr Dagmar Else Slot, Professor Mario Rui Araujo, Dr Ron Knevel and Dr Melanie Hayes started-off the program with their presentation ‘Are you a lamp, a lifeboat or a ladder?’. This was our first introduction to the symposium theme ‘LEAD’ exploring leadership, empowerment, advances and diversity in dental hygiene.

The afternoon kicked-off the scientific programs and each session featured a sponsored speaker in the Great Hall along with four concurrent breakout sessions. This ran over all three days and each breakout session featured speakers with a focus on one of the key themes. Alongside the standard sessions there were over 50 posters presented with a number of these also participating in rapid fire presentations. This year's social program featured welcome drinks on the Thursday night with some extra special Australian wildlife guests joining us. Everyone loved being able to meet and take photos with some of our local wildlife including a wombat, crocodile and an owl. Some of our state and executive committee members got to meet their dental hygiene heroes at the President's Reception later that evening.


Friday night's Gala Dinner at the Howard Smith Wharves was an opportunity for everyone to dress up and let their hair down. The dance-floor was filled all night and the photo booths were a fantastic hit once again.

The Sunstar awards were presented by Mayumi Kaneda of Sunstar Global to research award winner Danielle Clark from Canada, and the project category winner was Tan Minh Nguyen from Australia for his work on Integrating Evidence-Based Dentistry within a Public Dental Program for Children.

Saturday started with the final keynote presentation by Anh Do, Vietnamese-born Australian actor, comedian and artist. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as he told the tale of his life as ‘The Happiest Refugee’. The symposium concluded with a closing ceremony and a number of awards presented by the International Federation of Dental Hygiene, as well as national awards presented by the DHAA. Dr Melanie Hayes received an award for her Excellence in Higher Education, Hannah Colantoni from South Australia received hers for Community Service and Tabitha Acret was awarded for her commitment to clinical excellence. We also awarded a life membership to Wendy Dashwood from ACT, for her work to grow the dental hygiene profession. The ceremony closed with an invitation from the ISDH 2022 organising committee to attend the next symposium that will be held in Dublin, Ireland. Naturally this was followed by a taste of Irish music with a live band and dancing to wrap up the event.