Two months ago on the 18th and 19th of September, 350 delegates from 26 countries came to Australia for the fourth edition of the World Congress on Probation organised by Corrective Services NSW. Together with former Assistant Commissioner (Community Corrections) and Chair of the Organising Committee Rosemary Caruana we look back at a successful World Congress on Probation.
How did you prepare for the congress?
Preparation for the 4th World Congress on Probation began two years ago, immediately after the 3rd World Congress in Japan. First priority was given to identifying and locking in a venue suitable to host the congress in Sydney. An organising committee was established with key personnel appointed to take lead roles in managing multiple aspects of the planning and final logistics associated with the three-day congress. Advice was also provided through the World Congress Advisory Group, which was established after the 3rd World Congress. A sub group, with international representation, assisted in the final selection of the 27 workshop papers.
The theme of the Congress was ‘Building Public Confidence in Community Offender Management’. This theme was chosen as there has recently been a growing awareness that offenders are managed in the community on a range of orders. This awareness is generally accompanied by a lack of understanding as to how offenders are managed and the associated practices which are underpinned by evidence. When serious offenders are released from custody into the community, or an offender on a community-based order commits a serious offence, the community is rightly concerned. As a result, agencies managing offenders in the community will continue to be in the spotlight and bridging the gap in community knowledge and building confidence in how offenders are managed is critical.
Planning was critical to the success of the Congress, and it was hard to believe how quickly the three days of the Congress went by after two years of planning.
How do you look back on the congress?
The Congress provided a mechanism for practitioners, policy-makers and academics from across the world to share knowledge, experiences and learning. It has also provided an opportunity for delegates to network with colleagues from across the world.
What was the most memorable?
As the chair of the organising committee, what was memorable was the level of energy and enthusiasm among the delegates. There was an eagerness to share and learn from each other’s experiences and practices but more importantly a number of ongoing contacts, networks and friendships, which extend beyond the Congress itself.
Materials will be made available soon through the websites of a number of professional bodies who were on the World Congress Advisory Committee. These include the:
- Confederation of European Probation
- American Probation and Parole Association
- International Corrections and Prisons Association