Over the weekend I trekked north to Brisbane to attend a weekend of meetings at the Drama Australia Annual Meeting of Council. As this was my first official time representing Victorian Drama teachers as President of their state Drama teachers’ association, I thought I would blog on the wonderful work Drama Australia does to promote and support Drama educators across the country and jot down just a snippet of the weekend’s discussion.
Many people may not know Drama Australia represents over 1,100 members through its state and territory Drama teaching associations. Keep in mind, a ‘member’ can also be an affiliate member, and one membership can represent four Drama teachers in a school, not just one. When taking this into account, Drama Australia represents far more than 1,100 individuals in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across government, independent and Catholic sectors.
Drama Australia concerns itself with issues in drama education on a national level and has strong connections with other peak bodies such as the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association (IDEA), the National Affiliation of Arts Educators (NAAE) and the Australian Drama Studies Association (ADSA). Drama Australia is governed by a committee of management with executive members looking after everything from academic Drama publications and research, to international and industry liaisons and new projects in the field.
Drama Australia regularly publishes documents that assist drama educators across the country, such as equity and diversity guidelines, working conditions recommendations and guidelines for teaching Drama to and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, to name just a few. Drama Australia also publishes periodic academic journals in drama education such as NJ and ADEM (Australian Drama Education Magazine).
Drama Australia is a voice of advocacy for drama education in this country and beyond our shores, and has close ties with each of the state and territory Drama teacher associations.
At Drama Australia’s Annual Meeting of Council over the weekend, we were saddened by the disbanding of NTADIE (Northern Territory Association for Drama in Education) and as a result, for the first time a state or territory Drama teaching association is not officially represented at the national level.
We were disturbed by a developing trend of shrinking drama education courses at the tertiary level, as witnessed recently by the closure of courses at several NSW institutions.
We were impressed (and jealous) by Drama Queensland‘s recent move into electronic academic member journals. Drama Queensland surveyed their members who approved the association’s transition into member-login retrieval of their regular academic publications on drama education in electronic pdf form, via their website. Gone are the days where Drama Queensland prints their journals the ‘old skool‘ way!
We relived the buzz and excitement of Drama NSW‘s fantastic hosting of the last year’s Drama Australia national conference in Sydney. With over 230 delegates attending from all corners of the country, this was a wonderful event jam-packed with a diversity of activities.
We previewed yet-to-be-distributed working and publicity material for SAADIE’s (South Australian Association for Drama in Education) hosting of the next Drama Australia conference in Adelaide on 9th-11th May, 2008. This conference will make strong links with ASSITEJ (International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People), whose world congress and festival for young people will be held in Adelaide at the same time. I can tell you, the Drama Australia conference hosted by SAADIE next year looks awesome (there is no other word for it) and from enjoying a sneak preview of some of its events, this conference is not to be missed if you teach Drama in Australia!
Just in case you may be wondering how much work goes into the planning of hosting the Drama Australia conference, even us representing Drama Victoria spoke a few words about our initial ideas for the national conference to be held in Melbourne in 2009. We will offer Drama Australia and the other state and territory Drama teaching associations more concrete details of our planning at the next Drama Australia AMC at the May conference in Adelaide next year.
At the AMC we discussed so many issues in drama education in Australia over the course of two days, it was mind-bending.