Table Of ContentsNext Page

Theme Statement

Extending Extension: beyond traditional boundaries, methods and ways of thinking

Extension involves the use of communication and adult education processes to help rural people and communities identify potential improvements to their practices, and then provide them with the skills and resources to effect these improvements. Historically, extension has been concerned with agriculture and natural resource management, but increasingly there is a concern with rural communities in general.

This will be an exciting and challenging event that will comprise multiple formats including specially invited keynote speakers, carefully selected other speakers, group discussions, open platforms, workshops and training sessions. There will be a balance of small group activities and large sessions. Ample time will be provided for networking, with social events peppered with the taste of Tasmania. The importance of ‘locality’ will be featured in the conference by providing delegates with a taste and feel of Tasmania that will extend from the selection of the venue and range of accommodation available through to the provision of food and refreshments, as well as through the optional field trips and sightseeing opportunities.

The primary intention of the conference is to facilitate our thinking about our business and to improve our practice: about what it is, the way we do it, and what works. Part of that discussion will be a reflection on the nature of our business and what other fields we are connected to and linked with. Invited speakers will be drawn largely from outside traditional extension circles thereby exposing us to other but related disciplines and thinkings: outreach, interpretation, change management, community development, public participation, adult education, environmental education, communication, evaluation, PR and marketing, health promotion, tourism promotion, organisational learning and the media. In addition, selected case studies will be presented demonstrating best practice in our business.

Through this sharing of theory, methods, practice and experience, insight and learning will be acquired that will assist us in our practice and in the way we see our business. It will also assist in the integration of theory and practice leading to greater effectiveness.

This questioning of our business is important because there is widespread confusion both within and outside the field of extension about what extension is and what it could be. Extension is redefining itself in many ways and a new balance needs to be found between the competing claims and issues of: theory/practice; old/new; top-down/bottom-up; public/private; agent/consultant; farm/business; farmer/customer/client; opinion leaders/champions; individual/group; men/women; technical/social; information dissemination/change management; technology transfer/capacity building; skill enhancement/personal development; adoption/communication; production/environmental sustainability; maximise/optimise; diffusion/facilitation; extend/empower; agriculture/community; teach/learn; and targeting/linking.

The APEN National Forum will be a professionally run event aiming to attract a wide range of stakeholders in agriculture, natural resource management and rural and regional communities. Some 175 participants are expected to attend including extension providers and funders, extension practitioners and researchers, natural resource management agency staff, policy-makers, scientists, farmers, landholders and community representatives.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page