June 16, 2019 |

Conference Cocktail Party and Story Cookbook Launch

Fancy a gentle stroll, some good food and an opportunity to debrief and start/continue conversations with others in a beautiful setting after Day 2 of the conference? In keeping with our ten-year anniversary celebrations, we will be hosting this year’s conference cocktail party at the beautiful Studley Park Boathouse on Thursday 28 November. Join us for a three-hour cocktail party starting at 6pm including antipasto, canapes, mini meals, sweet treats and drinks (alcoholic and/or non-alcoholic). With the Story Conference being the home of the recently published Story Cookbook, the editors – Andrew Rixon and Catherine Lloyd, will share about this marvellous resource as a special feature of the night. It’s sure to be a memorable evening – be sure to book yourself in when you register!

May 13, 2019 |

Podcast Interview – The Story behind The Story Conference

Here’s a podcast interview between Andrew Huffer (aka The Huff) and Andrew Rixon, founder of The Story Conference. It’s a fun, light-hearted interview where you’ll hear about the ‘story’ behind the story conference (including what’s it’s like to stay with a guy who has a waterfall in his living room!). You’ll hear about the conference themes, some of the people attending and key reasons why you should be amongst them!

(We’ll be opening the Super-Early-Registrations in June so stay posted)

May 12, 2019 |

Kirk Fisher – Your Original Face: Zen Koans, Experiments with Freedom

A koan is a little living story. It may be a fragment of a conversation, or a poem, or a song, but it is something that is shared between people. All koans are a live encounter.

An assumption of Zen is that when we attend to what is alive in each moment, the response comes on its own. We learn to trust our life. We’ll have a brief dive into this as experience working with koans. Participants will also have a koan they can take away and continue the work from the workshop.

About Kirk Fisher:

Kirk Fisher began practicing Zen at 18, during music school. The Zen continued longer than his musical career. He entered into a formal relationship with his lineage and began koan study in 1997. His teacher, Susan Murphy Roshi, asked him to begin apprentice teaching in 2016. He works with students at the Melbourne Zen Group, the Hobart Zen Group and Zen Open Circle in NSW. He is also a facilitator, coach and educator. He founded two alternative schools and works with organisational leadership both in schools and other organisations.


May 12, 2019 |

Russell Deal – ‘The Third Act’: Sharing our Stories Before the Curtain Falls!

If each of our lives can be thought of as a unique 3-act play how is your third act playing out? What are the challenges, the joys, the frustrations, the hopes and the legacies you will leave behind?

This highly interactive workshop introduces a new conversation-building card set, ‘The Third Act: Notes on Life’s Twists and Turns’ to invite folk to talk about the important issues in their adult lives.

The Third Act workshop and card set has particular relevance to anyone transitioning from work to ‘retirement’ and to anyone approaching ‘old age’ where issues of health and well-being can emerge unexpectedly.

About Russell Deal:

Russell is an aging social worker who worked initially in Victoria’s prisons before becoming a welfare educator and the working as a social work publisher at St Luke’s Anglicare where he founded and directed ‘Innovative Resources’. Russell helped create some 60 ‘conversation-building’ tools that are used by human service practitioners throughout the world. Russell is now ‘retired’ but still provides supervision to social work students on placement. The Third Act card set is his first independent publication since leaving St Luke’s.

May 12, 2019 |

Nicole Feledy – Be the Author of Your Own Story Rather than a Character in Someone Else’s – The Art of Mindful Storytelling

Participants will learn the art of storytelling, practice mindfulness and strengthen their ability to be the best version of themselves. Through a series of activities, they will develop their understanding of literary narrative structure and language techniques. Then they practice mindfulness to recognise how being alert to their ‘self talk stories’ can provide the space to choose which story to attend to. As participants start to make the connections between being mindfully alert to their stories, they will use storyboarding techniques to ‘rescript’ or reshape the ‘It was meant to be’ story so they may be the author rather than the character in their life.

This workshop uses explicate mindfulness and narrative practices to help people access their thoughts. It then helps people to see the connection between those thoughts and their emotions and behaviours. This can help participants learn strategies for managing self talk and increasing mental health.

About Nicole Feledy:

Nicole Feledy has been described as a mind trainer, emotions coach and strengths teacher. While working in schools, she witnessed a growing sense of despair in many of her students. They were frustrated, lost and battling to figure out, ‘who am I’ and ‘where I belong’. Nicole wanted to help, but knew it needed to be tangible and sustainable help -a way of living rather than an add on. Using her skills as a Gallup certified Strengths Coach, Meditation trainer and English teacher she created programs to help people understand how narrative connects thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Instead of worrying about what’s missing, these programs use the power of narrative, the habits of mindfulness and the focus of strengths to help people become the author of their story rather than a character in someone else’s.

May 12, 2019 |

Melbourne Playback Theatre Company – come and play

You may have seen playback theatre before – a unique storytelling practice that transforms the personal stories of an audience into captivating theatre; where the audience are the scriptwriters of their very own show that has never been seen before and will never be seen again.

Well, now its time to dive below the surface and learn about the storytelling, listening and performance techniques that we at Melbourne Playback use in our work.

In this fun, playful and interactive session you will share stories, listen deeply and turn a story into theatre using a movement score or maybe even a song! If you’ve ever wanted to have a go at playback theatre, if you’ve ever been curious as to ‘how they do it’…come play.

No performance experience required. All that is required is a willingness to listen, play and share a story.

Our participants have referred to our workshops as ‘going to the gym for your soul’. We hope that the people who attend this workshop will leave more connected to themselves and to each other and ready to “tune in” to the stories they encounter.

About Melbourne Playback Theatre Company:

Melbourne Playback Theatre Company has been delighting audiences in Melbourne and around Australia for over 35 years. Made up of an ensemble of 14 performers, our actors and musicians continue to use their performance practices to inform the development of our unique take on playback theatre. Our vision is to create connection and positive actions through the power of story. Our mission is transformation through the spirit of play and the sharing of experience in performances and training. We are a not-for-profit incorporated association that works regularly with groups in the government, corporate, education and not-for-profit sectors. We provide performances, workshops, role-play and training to those seeking ways to create connection and develop skills in communication, leadership, collaboration and storytelling. For case studies, testimonial and information about our team please visit: www.melbourneplayback.com.au


May 12, 2019 |

Annie Bolitho – Death cafe style conversations – a story tool in training

Death cafe style conversations are open and free ranging without a fixed agenda. Many personal stories emerge about death, grief and loss. One of the most difficult things for anyone, including skilled health professionals, is to sit and simply take in another’s experience of loss, uncertainty and hurt. A facilitated death cafe style conversation gives participants the opportunity to simply attend to others’ experiences. Here we can learn and grow a little more receptive, as ordinary people and professionals. There are benefits for wellbeing in knowing that the experiences, fears and growth that are associated with death, grief and loss are mysteriously held in common.

Training on grief, loss and death often focuses on the ‘head’ and ‘hands’ aspects of professional development. The storied ‘heart’ dimension enhances wellbeing for health professionals. Participants will feel enlivened by talking about death, and might be somewhat surprised to feel this way. Participants will have an appreciation that training can include sitting quietly at times, enjoying simple rituals, and the shared human experience of mortality.

About Annie Bolitho:

Annie is a facilitator, funeral organiser and educator. In her work, stories help people to connect and reflect. Annie is the author of ‘Death, a love project’, and convenes seasonal Death Cafes in Melbourne.

May 12, 2019 |

Geof Hill – Into the Woods – a process for developing organisational pantomime

This experiential workshop draws on Sondheim’s (1986) creation of ‘Into the Woods’ to explore the crossover of multiple fairy stories as foundations to the ways in which we operate as ‘actors’ in everyday life. The workshop process provides a way of working with individuals, groups and indeed organisations to explore the impact of scriptural interplay on organisational and life settings. It helps to raise consciousness about interpersonal relationships in work and life and how we can not only hold to a well embedded ‘script’ but, through consciousness raising, change the ‘script’.

Becoming conscious of your ‘scripts’ in everyday life help to bring a sense of well-being and mindfulness. Some ‘scripts’ may be stressful and raising consciousness about them can lead to resolution of dysfunctional ‘scripts’.

About Geof Hill:

Dr Geof Hill is the Principal of The Investigative Practitioner – a management consultancy established in 2000 to support professionals investigate their practices. Since his early training as a Psychologist he has been using drama methods as a tool for eliciting interpersonal ‘scripts’. The ‘Into the Woods’ workshop was originally devised in 1990 for a group of Early Childhood students in Sydney (Australia) and later showcased at the Transactional Analysis Conference in Sydney in November 1991. In the wake of emergence of the Performative Paradigm (Haseman, 2006), he has returned to many of his earlier facilitation methods to explore the ways in which theatre, dance, music and movement can be used to support exploration of the ways in which professional people interact with each other.


Haseman, B.  (2006) A Manifesto for Performative Research. Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy, theme issue “Practice-led Research” (118), 98-106.

Sondheim, S. (1986) Into the Woods . Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine.

May 12, 2019 |

Kathy Overton – Story Listening, Story Telling: Working with bushfire affected communities while working in bushfire affected organisations

Working with communities affected by bushfire or other disasters requires empathy, compassion vulnerability, energy and persistence. Fundamental to building relationships and trust in these communities is conversation and storytelling.

Using story with the intention of supporting recovery and building resilience, as well as enabling learning, greater connectedness and supporting new or stronger relationships, outcomes that can be unpredictable, unexpected, yet very powerful, occur.

When effectively used and in a safe space, conversations and story can be healing, cathartic and contribute to feelings of connection and being valued by others. With the ability to listen for stories and having skills in enabling the telling of the stories, a powerful process that empowers people and communities emerges. As a foremost priority of community-based bushfire work and with examples from fire affected Victorian communities, we discuss some of the powerful outcomes achieved through this way of working.

Working with communities about bushfire, especially when an organisation has also been impacted, requires a strong focus on well being of both workers and community members. Central to this is open and honest conversation, the ability to listen and story telling.

About Kathy Overton:

Kathy Overton is a Community Based Bushfire Management Officer with the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) in the Port Phillip Region. She has many years’ experience as a Science teacher in NSW and Victorian schools, with particular interest in the natural world. She has also had extensive experience in environmental and bushfire community and school education, working as an education officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, at DELWP, Sustainability Victoria, CFA and in her own consultancy business. In recent years, her work focus is working with communities to better understand bushfire risk and what it takes to better prepare for, respond to and recover from bushfires.

May 12, 2019 |

Andrew Shirres – Strengths through stories: the role of visual and literary metaphors in human service practice

Sometimes the ‘issue’ or ‘problem’ can be all consuming, constructing narrow short-stories that can, even unintentionally, disempower the people we are hoping to support, creating a dynamic that impacts upon the workers’ well-being and affect the culture of the organisations where they are based.

This workshop will explore the use of simple yet sophisticated visual and literary resources to encourage richer conversations to be had and enable the most helpful stories to be told. Participants will practice using a range of materials and techniques that can be applied easily in a range of settings, both within organisations and throughout the community.

Strengths-based ‘parallel practice’ acknowledges that the way in which we work with others can determine not only effective work with others but our own well-being and our organisational cultures.

You will find yourself leaving this workshop:

  • Having experienced the way in which sometimes surprising, ‘left of field’ strengths-based stories can be developed through the use of visual tools and resources.
  • Having practiced and having developed confidence in applying different techniques that enable their use.
  • Having new ideas on how visual resources can foster practice refection, improve worker well-being and influence workplace culture.

About Andrew Shires:

For more than 10 years now Andrew, in his current role as the practice development coach for St Luke’s Innovative Resources, has been a facilitator of workshops around strengths-based reflective practice for human services and educational organisations across Australia and overseas. More broadly, Andrew’s background includes stints as a truck-driver, excavator operator, hotel manager, exhibiting artist, mental health social worker, program manager, amongst others, that have exposed him to the beauty of people and the stories they can tell. Andrew has a strong passion for promoting human rights and social justice, values that form the foundation for respectful, hopeful strength-based practice at all levels.