July 18

From the Chair, Winter 2023


Council welcomes the return of the AUSTAT Conference from October 6th until October 8th at Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne. The conference organising committee has been working to create the circumstances for a very positive event. This year there are two keynote speakers. Our foundation AUSTAT Chairperson, Dr. Terry Fitzgerald is the first keynote speaker. Terry helped to start Australia’s first Teacher Training Program SAATA in 1983. With forty five years Alexander Teaching experience, a PhD in Adult Education and a doctoral thesis on Alexander Technique Andragogy, we are so lucky to have Terry’s participation.

The second keynote speaker is Ann Shoebridge. Ann is a past Chair of AUSTAT. She has moderated training schools and worked to promote Alexander Technique in the community. Her recently published research paper,” Minding the Body: An interdisciplinary theory of optimal posture for musicians.” presents interesting ideas on the language associated with optimal posture  across professional groups. “Posture influences music technique, and poor posture is associated with performance-related problems in musicians. Student musicians rely on music teachers, physiotherapists, and Alexander Technique teachers for advice about posture and performance-related problems. However, it is unknown whether these professional groups share a common understanding of optimal posture, or if posture management strategies align with performance goals.”

I hope that you will be able to join us at Abbotsford in October for this first post-covid conference.

AUSTAT has initiated a monthly Continuing Education presentation session via Zoom. There have been great presentations by Karen Anderson (inclusive language), Julianne Everleigh (a present voice) and Bronwyn Munro (active inference and its relevance to Alexander Technique). If you missed these, click on the link on the Members Area here (you will need to log in; it’s well worth your time). I am looking forward to presenting July’s session on how to plan and deliver presentations to help build your practice.

The speakers’ project could do with some helping hands. The idea behind this project is to create cost effective, organic promotion of Alexander Technique, AUSTAT as our professional society, and your Alexander practice. By going to public venues, organisations and companies and talking about what we do, we will start to create opportunities for work and greater community awareness. AUSTAT needs help in making contact with organisations, compiling call lists and scheduling speakers. Can you help?

Leo Canales and Helene Goldberg put their hands up at our last Council meeting to develop social media marketing strategies. Do you have expertise? Are you interested in being involved? Let us know. It would be great to raise our presence on social media.

Council and the Training Course Standing Committee have been extremely busy implementing Phase 2 of the Training Governance Review Project. A great deal of work has gone into this project, but more of that later in ITM.

This is my fifth term as AUSTAT Chair since I first put up my hand in 2003. Although I am grateful to have an opportunity to volunteer my time to our profession, I realise that I am probably getting to my Chairing-use-by-date. Chair is an important role. It is required by our Constitution and there are some important tasks that the Chair fulfills. The Chair is the public face of the Alexander community. As Chair I have spoken at NSW Parliament House, in Wynyard Tasmania and at other events representing AUSTAT.

Strangely, some members think that the role of Chair is like that of a president. That’s pretty far from the reality. The Chair is the facilitator. I get the agenda ready for each meeting. The Chair makes no independent decisions or actions. Everything goes through Council. Council may instruct the Chair to correspond with someone on their behalf where appropriate. The Chair does not vote except where there is a tied vote (I’ve never had that happen).

As Chair, it’s my role to be very well aware of the AUSTAT Constitution and to instruct Council to ensure that Council’s decisions stay within the policy that is set down there. It’s quite an interesting role and I have come to respect and enjoy the company of many of our members over my years doing this role. At the end of 2024, I think it’s probably a good idea for me make room for new energy. Wouldn’t it be nice to share the responsibility for facilitating our Society?

Generally, the Chair will stay on for at least a year in the role of past-Chair, mentoring and providing continuity. Who is interested in coming into Council now, seeing the role, learning the steps and taking over at the end of next year?

Michael Shellshear


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