September 18, 2016 |

Viv McWaters – Change your story Change your performance

Workshop Title:VivMcWaters

Change your story, Change your performance

Workshop Description:

Who do you want to be? We can all be ourselves, and also perform our way into other roles. We carry our stories of who we are as armour – armour against change, armour against who else we can be. In this workshop we’ll explore active ways of discovering the stories we use that define who we are and how to use the power of story to explore different versions of ourselves.

If people got the best of the session what would they leave with?

They’ll have fun. What else they leave will depends. The workshop will explore the type of stories we hold close and how they influence how we act with others. People will leave with an enhanced understanding of their own stories, and how this influences how they show up in the world.

How is this session connected to the conference theme?

Cultural change requires all of us to step into roles that may not be natural to us. This workshop explores how we can use story to explore those different roles and how cultural change can start with each of us, individually.

About the Workshop Presenter:

I once wanted to be an astronomical photographer but settled for agricultural journalist, which caused quite a hoo-ha as women weren’t supposed to go to agricultural college back then. Rules weren’t going to stop me (I had the rules changed). Now there’s a clue about how I still approach life!

I’ve worked as a journalist, and in communications, and community education, training and strategy development. Now I specialise in group facilitation and participatory evaluation and draw on my background in the natural sciences and arts. I help groups discover new approaches to the work that matters for them. I design workshops, conferences and training to bring them to life. I am excited and enthusiastic about what I do.

I studied agricultural science at Longerenong Agricultural College, and have a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies from RMIT University, and a Masters in Applied Science (Agriculture and Rural Development) from the University of Western Sydney.

Improvisation is a constant source of inspiration, as is nature, play, and the surprising things that people say and do. I’m researching the role of applied improvisation in preparing people to respond in uncertainty, particularly disaster response.

I live by the beach in southern Australia. I have worked in over 30 different countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, which has helped fuel my passion for birdwatching and street art.

September 7, 2016 |

The CEO Fishbowl – Friday 25th November 9-10:30am

Held on the 3rd and final day of the Story Conference, the CEO Fishbowl will provide participants the opportunity to join an interactive discussion with experienced executives and their stories of influencing cultural change. Drawing from the Corporate, Not-for-Profit, Public sector and Healthcare environments, the CEO Forum will help to open up and explore the realities of what influencing cultural change really entails. We’re excited to welcome the following executives to the fishbowl:


Mary Barry – CEO of Our Watch


Mary Barry was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Our Watch, the national organisation to prevent violence against women and their children in January 2016.  Our Watch was established by government in 2013 to drive nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that underpin and create violence against women and children. Its mandate is to stop violence before it happens.    Prior to this Mary was the CEO of the National Heart Foundation of Australia for two years, CEO of the Victoria State Emergency Service for eight years and; CEO of the Victorian Association of Health and Extended Care for six years. 



Adam Fennessy – Secretary of Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)

Adam Fennessy is Secretary of the Victorian Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Adam leads DELWP in creating liveable, inclusive and sustainable communities across Victoria while maintaining our world class liveability and protecting heritage for future generations. Adam is passionate about leading a high-performing, positive culture based on DELWP’s values that delivers for Victorians and makes DELWP a great place to work. Adam is leading and building a culture of service excellence at DELWP with the community at the centre of everything we do. Living in Bendigo with his partner and young family, gives Adam a unique perspective of the work DELWP does across regional and metropolitan areas of Victoria.  



Herman Verhofstadt – CEO Sabco

Born in the Flemish part of Belgium, Herman worked for almost 20 years in FMCG marketing and sales functions in Europe before coming to Australia to breathe new life into the South Australian Brushware Company, better known as Sabco. More than 100 years old, the  iconic Australian Cleaning Brand was in urgent need of new energy. Herman brings a story of how enthusiasm and business instinct, changed the company for good. A big part of the success came from the leverage of culture differences between a continental European mentality of “grounded, do normal” and a “no worries” mentality Australian team. Herman brings to the fishbowl some enlivening perspectives on how a culture clash led to the development of a multi-cultural winning team, almost doubling Sabco’s business since his arrival.



Peter Ruzyla – CEO EACH

Peter has a background in education and psychology before joining the community health sector which has become his passion. Peter’s view is that this sector has an essential role to play within a broader population health approach, but has been underestimated in terms of its potential to deliver significant health and well-being benefits to the broader community – particularly for those with significant disadvantages. Peter has worked at organisational levels to gear agencies to maximise their potential, at system levels to develop partnerships for better service integration and at policy levels to influence change at a sector level. As the CEO of EACH , Peter has been able to steer the business through several mergers to achieve a high level of organisational credibility and sustainability.



Dr Anthony Bell– Director of Emergency Medicine, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital

Fifteen years as an Emergency Physician has given Anthony a unique perspective or people, processes and healthcare systems. Working as a clinician and researcher he has a keen interest in quality improvement, clinical redesign and policy development at a State-wide level. With leadership experience of emergency departments, project teams,  hospitals and clinical networks he has unique cross sectional healthcare experience in delivering, influencing and improving healthcare delivery.



Michelle Loader – Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Chandler Macleod Group

Raised on a rural farming property Michelle built her work ethic from a young age.  She recently led the Chandler Macleod business through integration with global Japanese staffing company, Recruit Holdings Co., Ltd. With over 20 years experience in the service sector she leads a team of 40,000 people across 5 countries.  The 7 companies that make up Chandler Macleod Group are responsible for delivering HR services and products including connecting 7% of Australia’s working population to work.  Michelle is a visionary leader whose passionate and authentic style has been adapted to many operational staffing companies across multiple sectors, she is a strong believer in collective intelligence and unleashing potential.  She recently graduated from Harvard Business Schools global CEO program, is a mum of 2 little girls and a founding director on the Australian board for The International Women’s Forum.

August 17, 2016 |

Creative Storying — A free ebook

red crocsAs part of this years Story Conference I’m committed to producing and publishing a book titled – “100 Story-based Activities to Influence Cultural Change”. This book will be published in 2017. In the meanwhile, I thought I’d share something to whet the appetite.

Below is a link to a book I wrote about using fairy tales as a way of getting beneath the surface and into the rich experiences of real life in organisations and beyond.

The method of working with fairy tales I’ve called “Creative Storying” – and this term covers a wide range of applications… I can see a number of examples of creative storying sessions at this years conference – they include:

Josh Samuels session on : Hero’s Journey – Mythology of your life
Melbourne Playbacks – Theatre leading organisational culture change
Bob Dick’s pre-conference workshop on Exploring beneath the surface
Russell Deals pre-conference workshop on The City of Lost Stories

But I do digress…

Download your free copy of my ebook titled “Opening Up: Creative Storying at Work” here.

July 24, 2016 |

A great selection of pre-conference workshops!

No better way to help get you warmed up and ready for all the action that will be part of this years Story Conference then by attending one of the pre-conference workshops running on the morning of Wednesday 23rd November from 8:30–12 noon.

The options available are:


July 22, 2016 |

Russell Deal talks about his pre-conference workshop “The City of Lost Stories”

July 21, 2016 |

Stimulating Story-based Social Entrepreneurship — Opportunity to Pitch

MicrophoneAre you or your organisation passionate about a particular social issue?

Do you have a social issue you are passionate about doing something about? Does your organisation have a focus or interest in addressing any key social issues such as homelessness, poverty, social isolation, mental health and well-being?

At this year’s Story Conference we are seeking to provide an opportunity for people and organisations to pitch about particular social issues that they would like to get behind and do something about. The stimulating story-based social entrepreneurship stream running on Thursday 24th November 2016 from 4:30-6pm will provide the time and space for emergent discussions and action planning around tackling the difficult and challenging problems put forward.

The vision is that this session will provide the opportunity to connect individuals and organisations together with interested budding social entrepreneurs at the conference and through the flow of good will from the conference look to address some of the contemporary social challenges our society is currently facing.

What is story-based social entrepreneurship?

The Story Conference is a unique and innovative conference founded 8 years ago in Melbourne, Australia, and seeks to provide a place for exploration and learning around the many different applications of story and narrative techniques for individuals, organisations and communities. With story and narrative techniques being a humanistic and compassionate approach to change, the conference is looking to provide a connection for those attending to go forth and be involved in contributing to some good in the world. This becomes something that lives on beyond the conference.

How can you get involved?

 If you are serious about putting forward and addressing a social issue and also have the ability to provide some support by way of time, money, grants or people, please contact the convenor of the conference: Andrew Rixon by email:

July 14, 2016 |

Dr David Drake talks about his pre-conference workshop on “An experiential introduction to narrative coaching”

July 5, 2016 |

Bob Dick talks about his upcoming pre-conference workshop on “Exploring below the surface”

June 22, 2016 |

Dr Tom Verghese talks about his pre-conference workshop on “How does your culture influence your story?”

June 13, 2016 |

Profiling this years Story Workshop Presenters

StoryWorkshopPresentersProfilingtheFavouritesWe’ve got a great line up of workshop presenters at this years conference as you can see here.

And – we asked them to share on their favourite quote, book and YouTube/ted-talk.

Click here to peruse and learn more about this years Story Workshop Presenters favourites