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By the time this newsletter reaches members' hands, the deadline for abstract submissions for the 3rd World Conference on Traumatic Stress March 16-19, 2000, in Melbourne, Australia, will have passed as the preliminary program begins to take shape.

The scientific program planning committee focused on two major areas to address during the world conference. The first is to examine some of the paradigms which have governed and perhaps distorted the thinking in the development of the field of traumatology, to review the past achievements, discuss present preoccupations and look to future explorations.

The second area, which also is the theme of the conference, involves examining and detailing some of the long-term outcomes of trauma in individuals and society. Submissions that addressed these major areas will be given preference in the final programming.

The planning committee provided a stimulating variety of fora where these issues will be discussed and debated. Apart from our keynote speakers, who include Onno van der Hart, Alexander McFarlane, Edna Foa, Ernest Hunter, Bessel van der Kolk and Matt Friedman, there will be several other plenary sessions covering major issues throughout the conference.

A presidential debate will take on the topic, "Traumatologist -- Scientist or Activist?" The world forum, chaired by Matt Friedman, will assemble a group of people who think globally about issues facing traumatized cultures to discuss what works and what doesn't in addressing these issues. A question-and-answer period will follow for audience members to address the panel about the particular problems facing their region or culture.

The body, overlooked in the treatment approaches to post-traumatic syndromes, will be the focus of a plenary panel chaired by Bessel van der Kolk, titled "If the Body Keeps the Score, Who Keeps Score of the Body?" A hypothetical case, based on real situations experienced by clinicians and their patients, and moderated by Norman Swann, will weave through many of the challenges faced in working with traumatized individuals in an often re-traumatizing social system. The final plenary, a keynote speaker panel, will draw together the themes from the conference and look to future directions in the field of traumatic stress.

One of the highlights of the conference will be an interview with Brian Keenan, author of An Evil Cradling, about the long-term effects of his period of captivity as a hostage of Lebanese terrorists. Bessel Van der Kolk will conduct the interview at a theatre outside of the conference venue. In order to fund this project, there will be a separate charge for attendance. Seating also is limited, so interested individuals will need to register. Pre-reading of Keenan's compelling account of his captivity is recommended.

Prior to the official opening of the conference, on March 16, workshops will be held with an emphasis on training or exploration of complex issues. A separate fee will be charged for the full-day or half-day workshops.

Concurrent symposia will be programmed throughout March 17 and 18. Major streams for the symposia include culture and trauma, the developmental impact of trauma, combat-related issues, an overview of the Holocaust studies, therapeutic approaches and processes, creative arts in trauma therapy, biological issues (including interrelationships of trauma and physical illness), phenomenology of post-traumatic responses, and co-morbid conditions and the long-term follow-up of major disasters around the world.

Intra-familial abuse, memory, existential and spiritual dimensions of trauma, survival strategies, madness and society, medicolegal perspectives, vicarious and secondary traumatization, working within an ethically-flawed system and trauma in an emergency medicine setting will also be
featured topics in the program.

The conference will include opportunities for delegates to enjoy themselves as well as learn from and exchange ideas with others working in the field. Erik Jarlnaes will devise a process by which delegates can look after themselves during the experience of being exposed to traumatic material. Music and dance will be offered throughout the conference and a dinner/dance with entertainment will provide a more relaxed atmosphere for making contact with others. An accompanying partner's program will be prepared and a restaurant/theatre guide will be included in the detailed program. For those needing to escape from the conference for a few hours, a list of suggested activities to clear the mind also will be available.

The enthusiastic response for this conference from around the world
has been very gratifying and the planning committee is confident of producing an event that members won't want to miss.

For general enquiries about
the conference, accommodation or
tourist options, contact conorg@ozemail.com.au. To discuss program content, dclifton@silas.cc.monash.edu.au