This year’s Symposium is an opportunity to engage with and contribute to innovations in outdoor health research and practice. Presentations will span Indigenous health practices, Nature-based health interventions for emerging conditions, and Outdoor health for whole populations.

As governments and policy-makers grapple with new challenges, and the Australian community adapts to new realities, Outdoor Healthcare provides promising cost-effective benefits for our physical, mental, social and cultural health.

Dates: Wed 3rd & Thur 4th November 2021 

Location: Online

Theme: Outdoor Health – A Natural Necessity 

Around the world, humans are either responding to threats posed by covid-19, or beginning to establish a new ‘post-covid normal’. Meanwhile, rates of species extinction are reaching alarming levels, and the effects of climate change are being experienced first-hand by many around the globe. Just like sea levels, rates of human physical-, mental- and social ill health continue to rise. This culmination of human-nature and planetary change calls for a new ‘normal’, or perhaps a remembering of old ways, and makes approaches like Outdoor Health a natural necessity.

Purpose: Share leadership, depth and innovation

This year’s Symposium is an opportunity to engage with and contribute to innovations in outdoor health research and practice. Presentations will span Indigenous health practices, Nature-based health interventions for emerging conditions, and Outdoor health for whole populations. As governments and policy-makers grapple with new challenges, and the Australian community seeks to adapt to new realities, Outdoor Healthcare provides promising cost-effective benefits for our physical, mental, social and cultural health. 

Background: Following on from last year

During the first big covid lockdown of 2020, AABAT’s Outdoor Health Policy Unit hosted a national online ‘Nature & Health – Research, Practice & Policy Symposium’. Led by Aboriginal cultural knowledge holders, and attended by over 600 people from all states and territories of Australia and 14 nations, the event struck a chord – during covid, people from all walks of life were taking themselves outdoors for health and healing. The event led to formation of a ‘Roundtable’ of evidence-informed nature-based health practices and new research alliances. This year, the Nature & Health Symposium takes another step to become the ‘Outdoor Health National Symposium’. 

What do we mean by Outdoor Health? 

Bush Adventure Therapy is just one of many evidence-informed nature-based health modalities within the emerging national Outdoor Healthcare sector. Others include: adventure therapy, adventure-based therapy, adventure-based counselling, adventure-based youth work, animal-assisted therapy, care farming, ecopsychology, ecotherapy, environmental psychology, equine therapy, forest therapy, green social work, horticultural therapy, Indigenous approaches, nature-based counselling, nature-based expressive arts therapy, nature-based mindfulness, nature based therapy, occupational therapy outdoors, nature prescribing, outdoor counselling, outdoor education interventions, outdoor music therapy, outdoor therapy, rewilding, therapeutic horticulture, walk and talk therapy, and others!

What promise does Outdoor Health hold? 

As the world grapples with new human and environmental health realities, there is an increasing and necessary role for nature within mainstream health systems. Research is beginning to demonstrate that early access to OH can prevent downstream illness, keep ill people well and out of hospital, and can also be used to ameliorate a range of diagnosed health issues. Testing the efficacy of OH in the treatment of Anxiety & Depression and Functional Neurological Disorders are just a few areas for potential investigation and application. The research evidence has caught up with what people intuitively know – that supported physically active social time in nature is beneficial for building health, including for those living with chronic illness. Outdoor Health offers a promising approach to bring back balance and health to people and the planet, and help reduce future fiscal health burdens.

Afterwards – we are sad to let you know that due to covid, the AABAT National Forum will be postponed to 2022.

AABAT has run about 20 national or international events for the sector since 1997! AABAT National Forums are always an immersive, active, and experiential gathering of a community you will love. Stay tuned for new dates!