Creating Congress: Behind the scenes of Australia’s leading dental event

14 January 2019

Events like the 38th Australian Dental Congress, to be held 1-4th May in beautiful Adelaide, South Australia, don’t just simply happen. 

They are the result of sustained hard work by a varied and talented group of people who commence work almost immediately after the previous biennial Congress has concluded. 

That all makes perfect sense when you consider the size and scope of the event. (Registration is now open – go to ADA Congress.)  

The 38th Australian Dental Congress is expected to bring together thousands of dentists, allied dental practitioners, practice staff and academics from around Australia and across the world for discussion and education about the scientific, technical and digital advances of dentistry, as well countless opportunities for networking, both formally and informally. 

Congress is also the largest continuing professional development (CPD) event for dental practitioners in Australia, offering an ideal way to contribute to the fulfilment of participants’ CPD requirements in one concentrated, educationally-beneficial period. 

The main scientific program together with the associated workshops and lunchtime sessions offer up to 28 hours of continuing professional development for dentists, and up to 12 hours for dental hygienists, oral health therapists and dental therapists, and up to 11.5 hours for dental prosthetists.  


Given the fact that this year’s Congress includes a Main Scientific Program encompassing more than 69 sessions, separate programs for dental hygienists and therapists, practice managers, dental prosthetists and dental assistants, accompanying social events and the exhibition which is free for delegates and offers a comprehensive selection of dental products and services, there is a considerable amount of planning needed to bring it to fruition. 

A man who is well aware of how much work is involved in bringing the many facets of Congress to life is the ADA’s General Manager of ADA Events and Sales, Mr Oscar van Elten who has been involved in organising the past four biennial Congresses. 

“In total, we have over 100 speakers from all over the world, most notably our principal keynote speaker, Dr Sasha Jovanovic, talking about a diverse range of topics,” Mr van Elten says. “In addition, we have just under 40 Lunchtime Sessions that involved the always popular Lunch and Learn sessions and new panel discussions as well as nine Workshops which are a mixture of full and half-day sessions. 

“What the ADA has attempted to do with the schedule of sessions is to offer topics across all the divisions of dentistry, that are going to be of interest, but most importantly of value, to the people who are attending.” 

But it's not all work and no play at an event where networking is a crucial part of proceedings. 

“Quite apart from the many informal get-togethers that happen between delegates who have often met at previous Congresses, we have social events specifically designed to ensure people not only have a good time but get to know other people, which is important not just from a personal perspective, but a professional one too.” 


The creation of this vast and engaging program rests with the Local Organising Committee (LOC), composed of dentists from across the spectrum of Australian dentistry and headed by Congress Chair, Dr Karin Alexander. 

A past President of the ADA with extensive dental practice and professional experience to her credit, Dr Alexander has been hard at work on the 2019 Australian Dental Congress since the beginning and is excited about what lies in wait for delegates. 

“Quite apart from the beautiful location at the Adelaide Convention Centre on the River Torrens, this year's Congress promises an exceptionally diverse array of topics for everyone to explore. 

“The LOC and, in particular Dr Alan Broughton, who oversees the Scientific Program Division, have really worked hard to create a program that will not only be interesting for every delegate, but which will really make a difference to their clinical practice once Congress concludes.” 


Dr Alexander is keen to stress how big and expansive Congress is and what it offers as a whole to attendees. 

“While the program sessions are a very important part of the Congress experience, and we hope everyone will find something to challenge and surprise them, we want people to walk away from the event having also built friendships, strengthened professional relationships and enjoyed some time off too sampling the very best that Adelaide, my hometown, has to offer. 

“After all, Congress is a unique opportunity to get away from your everyday work life, engage with different people and ideas, and see what the future of dental practice might involve, and I’d encourage everyone attending to make the very most of it.”