Hansard editors from Tynwald and the Parliament of Sierra Leone have once again joined forces to present to colleagues from across the Commonwealth their story of successful collaboration, not only between their own teams but also with their counterparts in The Gambia National Assembly, sponsored by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).
Representatives from 35 different parliamentary assemblies around the world met at the end of July in London for the triennial Commonwealth Hansard Editors' Association (CHEA) conference, hosted jointly on this occasion by the Hansard teams from the House of Lords and the House of Commons in Westminster.
The week-long programme focused primarily on modern developments in technology, including audio-visual facilities and automatic speech-to-text transcription. There were plenty of opportunities to share experiences, challenges and ideas with over 75 delegates from a common background of producing the Official Report of parliamentary proceedings in their respective jurisdictions.
Building on the conference theme of 'Bridging the Gap', Tynwald Head of Hansard Ellen Callister and Sierra Leone Parliament Editor of Debates Musa Foullah gave their joint presentation on the final morning. Together they described their own parliaments, with similar sized Hansard teams, and recounted their experiences of working together since 2016, supported and funded by the WFD, to strengthen and modernise Hansard production first in Sierra Leone and then in The Gambia.
Mrs Callister said: 'It was a real privilege to meet up with Musa again and to have the opportunity to share our good news story with Hansard friends both old and new from all over the Commonwealth. Our message appeared to be well received, judging by the interest people showed in their questions after our presentation. Many delegates were unaware of the existence of agencies such as the WFD and the positive work they do to strengthen developing democracies, so hopefully this will encourage a few more to get involved in similar projects. It is very rewarding to be part of a wider professional network and to be able to share practical information or advice as we strive to improve our services, no matter where we are in the world.'