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“Board Level” – an Autumn 2018 ANZACBS update

A warm greeting to ANZACBS members and fellow travellers!

With autumn upon us, it is time to update you on the activities of the ANZACBS Board. We have had two Board meetings since my last blog, and are excited to share with you our initiatives.

I can safely say it has been a long, busy summer for Board members. A number of changes are underway, most importantly in how ANZACBS engages and involves members.  Our shared vision is to create many opportunities for YOU to be supported in promoting contextual behavioural science in Australia and New Zealand.

So, here’s the news:

Board changes – Secretary

It was with sadness that we accepted Priscilla Alamada’s resignation from the Board in February 2018, for personal reasons. We hope that Priscilla will be able to contribute to the community in a Board role in the future and wish her the very best.

In the February Board meeting we decided to offer Daniel Simsion the Secretary role (Daniel was runner-up for this in the 2017 election). Thankfully he accepted (!), and will serve out the remainder of the 2 year term. Welcome to the Board Daniel!  Daniel has previously volunteered in ANZACBS with the organisation of the 2017 Melbourne Student Event, and has acted as minute-taker for the Board, during the period that we operated without a Secretary. Daniel has been a keen ANZACBS member, since his first conference experience at the (now legendary) 2015 Wellington conference!


Since 2017 there has been a substantial reform process for ANZACBS, focused on improving our compliance to external governance responsibilities, and updating internal structures, such as financial reporting.

In 2017 this reform was led by Paul Atkins and Robert Styles, and with the October 2017 election of new Board members, has now been taken on by our Treasurer (Melissa Schellekens) and Secretary (Daniel Simsion). Both Melissa and Daniel are working closely with ANZACBS Executive Officer, Kali Madden, to ensure that the Chapter is shipshape to meet the needs of members into the future.

In many ways it is a baptism of fire for Melissa and Daniel, to take on these responsibilities. And while this work is less visible to members, it is absolutely essential and important. I want to acknowledge how much we appreciate their hard work and diligence!

Project-based working

A change to the Board’s practices is to move toward project-based working, so that each of our activities is clearly led by a Board member, costed and measured by progress in our strategic directions.

This way of working also allows for greater involvement of ANZACBS members in projects, allowing us to draw upon the skills and expertise of our community.

A good example of this is the Communications team that Tiffany Rochester (President-Elect) is coordinating. The response from members to the call to be involved has been terrific, with fifteen volunteers. It is exciting to think of how this team will enable our community to learn about each other, new developments and events across the region.

Another example is the Membership project that Tresna Hunt (NZ Board Representative) and Melissa Schellekens are working on, to develop clear pathways and processes to membership. This will allow the Board to better communicate with members, be more inclusive in decision-making, and to allow us to be focused in our efforts to recruit new members.

There will be plenty of projects like this coming up, such as with organising local events, webinars, and developing the social responsibility/ campaigning arm of the ANZACBS.


Now, while I’m sure that you are interested in the internal working of the ANZACBS Board, I can imagine that you may be even more interested in the events and opportunities that we are developing.

Major Events

We are working on two major events that will occur in the next 12 months, 1) a large scale skills workshop (ANZACBS Boot Camp) and 2) the ANZACBS conference.

The ANZACBS Boot Camp (project leads: Lisa Soares, Eric Morris)

Thanks to the 300+ responses to the recent survey about this event, we now have a much better sense of what people want.

Based on the survey feedback, we are planning a large-scale 2 day skills training workshop in Melbourne for early August 2018. It is likely to occur over a weekend, and involve multiple ANZ trainers (including opportunities for less-experienced trainers to work as part of a training team).

The event will focus on skills development, with a strong focus on using ACT based on functional analysis, case formulation, and using various ways to blend behaviour therapy with ACT.

Lisa and I are working hard to secure a venue, and speaking to potential trainers. A business plan will be put to the Board in the near future. With approval, we hope to have a venue confirmed, and to put out a “save the date” alert, very soon!

The 2019 Conference (project lead: Linda Nicholson)

As discussed in the 2017 AGM, the Board decided to delay hosting the next conference, in order to do a “reset” of the conference’s dates and format.

We can share that Linda Nicholson (Board Member) has been working with Alison Christie to assess the feasibility of hosting our conference in Canberra in early February 2019.

Things are looking very promising and the Board has agreed for Linda to proceed to secure the venues, as we work on a business plan.

After an 18 month hiatus we hope that the Canberra conference will be an exciting opportunity to share the science and practice of CBS in our region. We have an experienced and well-connected team taking the helm for this conference, with some pretty cool ideas on how to make this one super-special.  Stay tuned for more cool news about the conference!

And past February 2019…?

Well, all I can say is that our New Zealand Representatives, Tresna Hunt and Sara Boucher, are coordinating with NZ members to pitch ideas that already sound pretty fantastic… looking forward to discussing these in future a Board meeting.

[Sara and Tresna are doing an awesome job of linking up NZ members and contributing to the Board’s projects, deep thanks colleagues!]

Local and Student Events, and Online Networking

The Board are also working on developing the structures to support members to host various networking opportunities.

Pub Talk – Western Australia (project lead: Tiffany Rochester)

Far from taking a long break after the Perth Conference (which would have been completely understandable), our irrepressible President-Elect Tiffany Rochester has taken all that great local energy, formed a team, and together they have organised ANZACBS’ first Pub Talk!

This is a brilliant way to bring local members together. The first event in Perth is going to be a winner, with Darin Cairns talking on “Self, Meaning and Other Stories” at Rosie O’Grady’s in Northbridge.  Wish I could be there!

We hope that this Pub Talk inspires members in other regions to host talks and networking, supported by the tools and infrastructure that ANZACBS offers.

Remember, our organisation exists to help YOU to connect with others, sharing CBS developments and finding ways to support innovations and learning. If you have ideas on local events, please  get in touch – we want to find ways to make ANZACBS your go-to for networking and training.

Student Event – Sydney (project leads: Geet Basarkod and Melissa Schellekens)

Not to be outdone by the City of Light/World’s Most Isolated City team, our Sydney Board members, Geet Basarkod and Melissa Schellekens, are in the process of organising a Student Event, likely to occur in the next few months. With sneak pee of the lineup of speakers they have in mind, this is going to be something very special.Very exciting!

After the success of the 2017 Student Event in Melbourne, ANZACBS are keen to support ways to reach students and early career professionals, with low-cost, high quality events that showcase the diversity of both contextual behavioural science and the scientists and practitioners involved.

We are trying out various formats (talks, experiential learning, panel discussions) and evaluating the experience of students at these events.  We are developing the learning resources and infrastructure to support running these events across our region. They are excellent way to make CBS visible to students who would otherwise not learn about this on their courses.

Again, if a Student Event could be hosted where you are, please get in touch!

Webinars (project lead: Katie Wyman)

The ANZACBS webinars were a big hit in 2017, attracting large audiences from across the region and beyond. We had an awesome line-up of speakers, whose support of ANZACBS was deeply appreciated.

Katie Wyman (Board member) is very capably leading on developing further webinars, including creating opportunities for practice-based networking. These will be opportunities for practitioners and researchers across the region to meet online to discuss areas of common interest.

Details of the first webinar are close to being shared, so watch this space!

It is easy to see opportunities here for networking around practice areas such as workplace interventions; coaching, chronic pain; psychosis; trauma; children, young people and families; culturally competent practice; psych oncology; supervision; compassion; FAP; FACT; etc! (Just off the top of my head, knowing who is around in the region)

We hope that the online space will provide greater opportunities for members to learn about each others’ work, support collaborations, and foster community.

Our community: respect

Those who follow international conversations in ACBS on social media and the listserv, will know that there have been ongoing concerns about respectful communication. This also affects the experience of ACBS Chapters.

On behalf of the Board, I want to share our commitment to ensuring that our ANZACBS community is a respectful and safe environment, that we believe our diversity is our strength, and  we are actively working to create a community where everyone’s voice is valued and opportunities are available to the many, not the few. These words reflect our intentions, and we are committed to act when there are issues.

Autumnal wishes

It is my sincere privilege to serve the ANZACBS community by working on your Board, which is made up of inspiring, capable colleagues. I hope that this update gives you a sense of how hard-working and dedicated they are to making our organisation excel. We want to involve you as members in this striving for contextual behavioural science to be a useful and effective influence in ANZ. We encourage you to step forward to work with us!

I hope that you have a great Easter break – connecting with loved ones, doing valued actions, being alive and engaged in the messiness and magnificence of your life. That’s the best any of us can do!

my best wishes, Eric

Eric Morris President, ANZACBS

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