4th SAAA Annual Conference 2020, 20 November, Online

4th SAAA Annual Conference on 20 November 2020 took place for the first time online and broke records

The 4th Annual Conference of the Slovenian Australian Academic Association (SAAA) took place on Friday, 20 November 2020 under the theme: “The role of place in an increasingly placeless world”. This year marked many firsts. The conference was for the first time hosted by the newly established New Zealand chapter of SAAA and the local host, Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. The conference also took place for the first time online via Zoom and with over 60 registered broke previous conference records. The 4th SAAA Conference was co-organized by the Association of Slovenes Educated Abroad (VTIS) and the Slovenian Australian Chamber of Commerce (SACC). It was sponsored by the Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Slovenians Abroad and supported by the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Canberra.

The conference was officially opened by H. E. Dr. Helena Jaklitsch, the Minister for Slovenians Abroad, who joined live from Slovenia at 2am local time, despite the time difference between Slovenia, Australia and New Zealand. Opening greetings and remarks followed by SAAA President, Dr. Kaja Antlej from Deakin University, H. E. Mr Jurij Rifelj, the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in Australia, and the local host, Dr. Matevž (Matt) Rašković from Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington, who is also the SAAA Secretary and the New Zealand chapter coordinator.

Two fascinating keynote speeches followed by Dr. Julija Sardelić from Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and Associate Professor Sergeja Slapničar from University of Queensland Business School in Queensland, Australia. Dr Sardelić presented her forthcoming 2021 book published with Manchester University. She talked about ‘being placed in the out of place’ and the role of marginalized citizens around the globe in 2020, as well as the impact that COVID-19 has had on the ‘placelessness’ of marginalized citizens. Associate Professor Slapničar focussed on cyber risk and talked about how organizations can protect themselves against through building up cyber resilience. According to her, the average cost of a cyberattack was about 2.7 million AUD for Australian organizations.

Vid Čibej joined the conference from New York City and after a short presentation of The Association of Slovenians Educated Abroad (VTIS), facilitated a special online networking session where SAAA conference participants had the opportunity to mix, mingle and get to know each other better. Three shorter presentations followed by Dr. Sharinne Crawford from La Trobe University, Marta Skrbiš Špes, MSc from Australian Catholic University and industrial designer Uroš Lotrič from Queensland. Dr Crawford talked about the use of social media for parenting purposes, while Marta Skrbiš Špes discussed the importance of creating a neutral “third space” in cross-cultural interactions with members from different language backgrounds. Award-winning industrial designer Uroš Lotrič from Queensland presented the story of the revolutionary “Blind snake” power socket, which received the prestigious Red dot design award recently in Singapore.

The conference concluded on a high note with a special one-on-one talk of Mrs. Mateya Slobodnik, Secretary of the Slovenian Australian Chamber of Commerce (SACC) with renowned Slovenian manager, Črt Prašnikar, from Fisher and Paykel Appliances. Mr Prašnikar has for many years worked in Australia and New Zealand and has received awards for his managerial work. He talked about his experience of working on both sides of the Tasman.

Next year’s 5th SAAA Annual Conference 2021 will take place on the 19th of November 2021 in Adelaide, South Australia. Till then, please follow us via our official website saaa.si and social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter).


Organising committee: Dr Matevž (Matt) Rašković, Dr Julija Sardelić, Dr Kaja Antlej, Karmen Lužar, Vesna Makovšek (VTIS), Mateya Slobodnik (SACC)

Contact: matevz.raskovic@vuw.ac.nz (or @LinkedIn)