2017 Institute of Group Leaders' Conference

Compassion - Communication - Connection - Capturing learning: Challenges in a Changing World


Thursday and Friday, 12-13 October 2017

Wesley Conference Centre - 220 Pitt St, Sydney

IGL expresses appreciation to its Gold Sponsor…

Click here for a copy of the IGL 2017 Conference flier

Click here for a copy of the 2017 IGL Conference Abstract Submission Form

When under pressure, what do you do? Return to 1st principles...
Group experiences are a foundation that builds healthy communities. As a society, even though adult learning principles have existed for decades, they are often not fully lived. The next cornerstone for group work is to remain strong on its core foundations and capture the evidence that demonstrates its worth with increasing focus on:  
  • Making a difference in disadvantaged communities
  • Supporting refugees
  • Engaging youth
  • Trauma Informed Practice 
  • Reducing divisiveness in the community
  • Building a greater sense of safety when people are afraid and vulnerable
  • Responding to and reducing domestic violence.
Group work enables people to name and normalise their lived experience. It breaks open the stagnant hardened shells of their present perspective, revealing ambiguity and opening up fresh ideas and options for exploration. Asking a question leads to a strategy for action that is a powerful contribution to resolving any problem. Asking questions and listening for the strategies and ideas embedded in people's own answers can be the greatest service a social change worker can provide.
This conference will live and promote the following 1st principles:  
  1. Focus on how group leaders apply new and existing learning that allows people to build on what they already know. We can help group members to access it, amplify it, and apply it rather than reiterating information already known.
  2. Learning occurs between group members as much as from the content or the group leader. Group work provides many more opportunities than just efficiency for delivering content to more people.
  3. Does what we do make a difference? Evaluate the difference a group experience makes. Use a Program Logic Model to capture the essence of your program and its key outcomes and assumptions.
  4. Group workers develop their own resilience and capacity for leadership yet work in a reflective and empowering way so that the benefits of group work are ultimately for the participants. 

Keynote facilitators

Thursday 12 October 2017 - Peter Slattery

Groupwork: Mash it up. Laughter - grief. Defiance - acceptance. Triumph - struggle. Reflection - movement. Challenge - confirmation. Fear - courage.

Groupwork is not practice for life, it is life. And with this in mind, this workshop will attempt to do just what is written in the few sentences above.

There is no other species like humans for destruction and neglect. Nor is there a species for such spontaneous generosity, heroism, compassion, and for thought-out, deliberate courage, sacrifice, commitment, artistry, beauty and dedication. This workshop aims to reflect through process and activity, at least some of these uplifting qualities that we each as humans can bring to our own lives, to those around us, and to the wider world. I will attempt to create moments within this group for our best qualities to emerge as human beings and as group leaders. Moments that might just be tinged with genuine generosity, risk-taking, warmth and joy.

Peter Slattery has worked with young people, their families and their friends and communities for over 35 years; across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, in Asia, Europe and the Americas. He has published extensively in both hard copy and the E world, and is in demand as a supervisor, mentor and key-note speaker. Peter says he loves his work and can't really imagine doing anything else. He also does sometimes ask himself if he needs to be more imaginative? But invariably decides that: 'Nah this is where I belong.'

Thursday 12 October 2017 - Hugh Crago

From story-telling to authentic dialogue in group work

Telling one’s ‘story’ in one form or another is a long-established component of many groups that aim to be therapeutic. It can lead to emotional release, affirmation from others, and a sense of the universality of the discloser’s experience. However, the telling of personal stories can also lead to unproductive encounters with others and distance the discloser from closer connection with other participants.

Following Yalom, I believe that here-and-now dialogue between participants is in the long term more growthful than simply responding to storytelling. Such dialogue is not for everyone, and many participants may not be ready for the level of vulnerability that here-and-now work requires. However, once participants have achieved a sufficient level of safety and trust in one another and the process, authentic dialogue is deeply rewarding, and in my experience results in real and lasting changes that are evident both in the group itself, and in outside-group relationships.

Hugh Crago was Senior Lecturer in Counselling at WSU from 2004 to 2011. He is the author of Couple, Family and Group Work (2006) and co-author with Penny Gardner of A Safe Place for Change (2012). Hugh currently leads three small therapeutic groups in the Blue Mountains.

Friday 13 October 2017 - Dr Neil Hall

Embracing the discomfort and messiness of group facilitation

The workshop will explore concepts of discomfort and messiness in terms of what they mean for participants, facilitators and auspicing agencies. Based on experiential learning, the workshop will generate strategies for maximising the benefits of group work in the context of unpredictable group processes as well as participants’ and facilitators’ potentially chaotic lives.


Neil Hall has 30 years of experience in group work practice and teaching in areas of youth health, drug and alcohol, juvenile justice, corrections and youth leadership. He is currently lecturer and Director of Academic Programs for Social work and Welfare at Western Sydney University and specifically teaches the Group Work subject to 2nd year students. He is also in the process of writing a new Group work text book for Routledge.


Friday 13 October 2017 - Toni Hubble

Compassion and Connection with the Traumatized Child who Presents in the Guise of a 60 year old adult

The main objective of the presentation is to present an insight over a time period of working with clients of complex trauma. Complex trauma is described as being ‘cumulative, repetitive and interpersonally generated’.

The core foundations of group work is the essence of what keeps both the group and the facilitator safe throughout the journey between worker and client. Working with complex trauma means being able to keep those essential foundations in mind while working with a paradigm that feels as if it is continually changing shape as the work moves to and fro with its own unique rhythm.

Facilitators need to be able to look at both the clients and their own responses to trauma behavior and be willing to see beyond the behavior of the person to begin to understand what may have happened to the person. The child learnt to survive in a hostile environment without the time to learn to live in a larger world.

The building of safety, the acceptance that there can be trust in a relationship, to begin to realise that choice exists in everyone’s realm of existence and that others will be willing to show compassion to connect in a person who has felt such a disconnect in relationship to others is what will build to empowerment within the client.

Toni Hubble has worked in the group work field for 20 years. Throughout this time frame her fields of work have varied extensively. From working with female victims of domestic violence to facilitating step family groups to working in a live in group setting with Vietnam Veterans with PTSD and their wives. As well as working with clients she has also had the privilege of being able to supervise many group facilitators over a number of years and been able to witness their personal growth and the development of their professional skills. Opportunities have also been available to provide input into training manuals and to write and facilitate training programs over the years. An amazingly varied work experience that she feels fortunate to have experienced.

To register, click on the link appropriate below