top of page

“Board Level” – Autumn 2019 ANZ ACBS President’s Update

The sun is setting earlier, the nights are getting colder. There’s no doubt winter IS coming. Why not take a moment to sit with a hot cup of tea and catch up with what your ANZ ACBS Board have been getting up to over the past Autumn months? In committing all this to writing, it’s highlighted for me how much important work happens in the background and behind the scenes. We have a really committed, hard working, passionate Board of volunteers with a fantastic vision for growth. We are asking a lot of ourselves as we move forward with wanting to offer members an exceptional world class program that welcomes and nurtures our membership, and empowers members to share more widely with the community. We are always in need of more volunteers (see further below). If you have a couple of hours you could spare our way, for areas of CBS that matter to you, we would love to have you in our team.

Board Update

New Board Student Representative, Claire Turner

Karen Hielkema, 2020 Conference Chair

Life likes to throw surprises at us all. For our Board Student Rep Pam Barker, life offered her an amazing opportunity that changed the scales on work/life balance. It’s one thing to talk about towards and away moves, but a whole other to resolve a values clash when everything on the table is something you really care for and you can’t possibly do it all! The Board of Directors supported Pam’s decision to resign from the Board due to these new commitments, and we were delighted to welcome Claire Turner as our new Student Representative. The role of our Student Representative is to, among other things, make sure that the student voice is heard and represented at the Board level. Whilst we hope our student members feel comfortable to approach any of our Board, Claire is a great point of contact to share your ideas and thoughts on needs of the student population across ANZ. Those of you on social media make like to join the ANZ ACBS Student Facebook group.

We are also pleased to have co-opted our 2020 Conference Chair to the Board – a huge welcome and grateful thanks-in-anticipation to Karen Hielkema. Read on for more details.

Membership Survey

The Board has many exciting training events coming your way (some teaser info below, more details coming soon). To make sure that we are best meeting the training needs of our members, I encourage you to take 5 minutes to respond to our current training needs survey. Thank you to Pres-Elect Daniel Simsion for coordinating this survey.

Upcoming Events

We are on the cusp of being able to release to you details of a host of exciting events coming up, and we hope that June will be the Month of Announcements!!

Conference 2020

We can’t wait for Karen Hielkema and Liz Maher to bring you news on our late-2020 Conference. Karen, Liz and their team are busily scoping venues, organising budgets, and putting together potential themes and speakers. Oh my goodness, it’s going to be amazing. I am thrilled to confirm the rumours that our 2020 Host City is Auckland, New Zealand. Dates and details coming soon!

Local Events

2018 saw Perth leading the way with easy-management, totally-fabulous (#NoBias) Professional Development Networking Events (otherwise known as Pub Talks). In 2019, Melbourne has joined in and have already run two well-reviewed evenings. The first saw Michael Swadling introduce members to the Portland Supervision Model; and the second hosted Claudette Foley, who presented on Cultural Awareness in ACT. Thank you to Daniel Simsion and his team Michael Swadling, Deborah Hart, Lisa Soares and Shae Meddings for bringing these events to life.

Perth’s next event hosts Educational ACTivists Naomi Terpsis, Tracy Klonowski and Iva Filipovska presenting From the clinic to the community: Partnering with ACT-informed Psychologists working in schools to achieve system-level change. Tickets to this June 6 event are still available. Board Secretary Andrew Duirs and I are forever grateful for the committed Perth Events Team who work alongside us to make these things happen! A special shout out to Mitch Hart, Tracy Hart, Alyssa Garrett, Jess Gilbert, Loarna de Sancha and Genja Lusnats.

If you have the drive to see these types of low-key, high-benefit events running in your local area, we would love to hear from you.

Webinar Series

Past-President Eric Morris, together with New Zealand representative Sara Boucher and President-Elect Daniel Simsion are busy putting together a schedule of Webinars ready to launch in the second half of this year. Offering a range of different formats and including local and international trainers, clinicians, authors and academics across a breadth of CBS topics, there will be a bit of something for everyone in this exciting initiative.

Skills Intensives

Did you catch the plural in that heading? Building from the success of our 2018 Melbourne Skills Intensive, Sara Boucher, Claire Turner and Daniel Simsion are hard at work bringing together training teams ready to announce TWO skills intensives in 2019/20 on BOTH sides of the Tasman. Stay tuned, we are only weeks away from being able to make formal announcements on both these high calibre events. To have input into what this training may look like, don’t forget to complete the member survey!

ACT Student Interest Day

Eric Morris, Daniel Simsion, Lisa Soares and Emma Caruana are finalising the details for our next ACT Student Interest Day in Melbourne. Details will be announced in the coming weeks! So many reasons to keep an eye on your inbox.

What else are we up to?

Advocacy & Action

An important area of expansion for ANZ ACBS has been to step into deliberate conversations around Advocacy and Action. Like many of you, I am constantly confronted and often distressed as I read (or watch) the daily news. We watch as women and men are murdered; massacres unfold; people suicide; and climate action seems woefully inadequate in the face of scientific opinion. As part of ACBS, our mandate is to create and disseminate science that is “more adequate to the challenge of the human condition“. It is true that we do not have all the answers (yet? ever?), but we have a field of science focused on understanding how to predict and influence behaviour with precision, scope, and depth. In answer to this call, we are looking at how to broaden our dissemination of our science in ways that are accessible and useful to community development. Our Advocacy and Action group is developing guidelines in order to be able to transparently assess whether CBS has evidence to support the advocacy and action we might like to take, such that we are always speaking from a scientific evidence base, and communicating in evidenced-based ways.

The need for us to respond to our community sadly occurred before our Advocacy & Action Team was fully formed. As the Christchurch massacre devastated us all, the ANZ ACBS Board considered how our scientific community could respond to be both part of the healing process; and part of prevention of future attacks going forward. We released a statement to our members outlining three responses:

  1. To be a point of contact and dissemination should there be a call-out from New Zealand for more trauma counsellors

  2. To coordinate the provision of a supervision and debriefing space to our New Zealand members who were working with the aftermath of the trauma

  3. That our communications team would write a blog piece on ways to tackle and respond to hate speech.

Many of our members answered our call to provide up to six free hours of supervision/debriefing space for those impacted, and I would like to remind our New Zealand members that this offer remains open. Please email me if you would like to access this free service. Thank you to the many people who willingly volunteered to provide this support. The Board would like to continue to be able to offer this kind of disaster-relief response to members in the event of future mass-trauma events.

Board Director and Team Lead of our Advocacy & Action committee Sarah Mooy teamed with Clare Sillence and Toni Hanna to provide our hate speech response blog, and I encourage you to share this widely with your networks.

Communications Team

Our Communications Team continues to provide Member Profile pieces, and recently have highlighted the contributions of

Ken Zulumovski and Michael Swadling. A special shout out to Amy Campbell and Sarah Mooy for their support in keeping this team together and bringing pieces to publication. I had great fun on International Women’s Day, supporting the Comms event of the ACBS Women’s Special Interest Group, highlighting some of our women members. Many thanks to all our women who participated in this, and the men who took the opportunity to show support and amplify our voices. Massive appreciation to Fiona Healy O’Neill, who was responsible for production of most of the word art across the international event.

Things that happen in the background…

While some of our volunteers contribute in ways that are easy to spot, others are working tirelessly in the background on less visible tasks that are crucial to the strength and sustainability of our organisation. Andrew Duirs, Sara Boucher, Daniel Simsion and I are slowly making our way through the process of creating, updating and formalising all of our Board policies and procedures. One of the risks in our organisation, staffed primarily by volunteers, is knowledge loss with regular board turnover. The process of capturing our policies and procedures is aimed at supporting future boards to “hit the ground running”, and be clear about what organisational decisions have been made in the past, and why. It also increases our transparency and accountability to our members.

Board Treasurer Melissa Schellekens, together with myself and Jennifer Kemp form the finance subcommittee. Tracking figures is definitely not my “thing”, and I am grateful to the skills of Melissa and Jen in tracking spending over time; expenditure-to-benefit ratios, assisting us with forward planning particularly in relation to sustainable and responsible fiscal management. Part of our focus has been about membership benefits and membership packages, and we will be ready to share more information with the community on these exciting advances soon.

You may have noticed our current website is looking a little tired. It is getting ready to have a lovely long nap, and in the background our Executive Officer Kali Madden and I are madly working on our new website launch. I am grateful for the technical expertise that Kali brings to this role, and we would love to have some more web-savvy volunteers on our team to speed this process along.

Call for Volunteers

You might’ve noticed a recurrent theme in this update around the hard work of committed volunteers. Our dreams for our organisation are ambitious, it’s true, and every hand available to help is gratefully appreciated. There are some specific skill sets that we are looking for at the moment, and I would love to hear from you if you can help:

  1. People with experience and/or interest in writing and revising organisational policy and procedure documents

  2. Those with skills in WordPress sites and/or tech savvy in other ways

  3. Those with experience in webinar organisation and/or delivery

  4. Volunteers willing to be involved in practical tasks in running local and/or chapter-wide events

  5. People willing to commit to writing two or three comms pieces a year (such as the profile pieces mentioned earlier)


The countdown is on for the 2020 ACBS World Conference in Dublin. I had a delightful time perusing the program to see what our Chapter members are presenting this time around. It’s pretty impressive, so I’m sharing it with you too. I hope I haven’t missed anyone, please let me know if someone needs to be added to this list.

  1. Bruce Arrol: ACT in Primary Care SIG Chair

  2. Paul Atkins:

  3. Prosocial: Using CBS to improve relations within and between groups (2-day pre-conference workshop, together with David Sloan Wilson, Monique Silva, Lori Wiser and Ian MacDonald: )

  4. “Matrix’ing” Prosocially: Functional Analysis form Individuals to Organizations (workshop, together with Stuart Libman and David Sloan Wilson: )

  5. ACT on Global Warming (workshop, together with Martin Wilks anda Robyn Walser)

  6. Grant Dewar:

  7. The CBS of Self care for health professionals- building inner resilience through self-forgiveness (workshop, together with Chris Fraser)

  8. Psycho-Dynamic SIG Meeting Chair

  9. Self Forgiveness: Discovering Courage and Flexibility to transform Life Setbacks and Build the Life you Value (workshop, together with Stavroula Sanida and Holly Yates)

  10. Mark Donovan: Cultivating Flexible Families: Defusion techniques, metaphors and images that engage parents and enable them to effectively respond to childhood behavioural and emotional problems (workshop)

  11. Louise Hayes

  12. Using DNA-v to focus on growth with young people (workshop)

  13. When Live is Lame: Navigating Adolescent Mental Health (Discussant, symposium)

  14. Contextual Behavioural Science (CBS) wellbeing interventions for children and young people (panel member)

  15. How we can use the broad platform of CBS to build depth into models of human development (plenary)

  16. Russ Harris:

  17. ACT Made Simple: A Quick Start Guide To ACT Basics and Beyond (2-day pre-conference workshop)

  18. Live Demonstrations: ACT with Challenging Clients (workshop)

  19. An ACT Approach to Emotional Dysregulation: Nuts andBolts of Flexible Exposure (workshop, together with Patricia Zurita Ona)

  20. Jennifer Kemp:

  21. Perfectionism from a Contextual Perspective: Using process-based approaches to address unhelpful perfectionistic responding in our clients and in ourselves (workshop, together with Lanaya Ethington)

  22. ACT for physical illness: Living with uncertainty, living with purpose (workshop, together with Dayna Lee-Baggley and Ray Owen)

  23. Fiona McDonald, Pandora Patterson, Helen Bibby, Elizabeth Kelly-Dalgety and Aileen Luo: The Place of Enablement, Empowerment, and Relationships (PEER) Program for Adolescents Impacted by Caner (symposium presentation)

  24. Fiona McDonald, Joseph Ciarrochi, Louise Hayes, Tracey Danielle, Stephanie Konings, Adam Wright and Nicholas Hulbert-Williams: Modifying Truce – a program for young people with a parent with cancer – for online delivery (symposium presentation)

  25. Eric Morris:

  26. ACT, Clinical RFT, and ERP: Getting Under the Hood of Exposure-Based Treatment (2-day pre-conference workshop, together with Lisa Coyne)

  27. Chairing the Psychosis SIG meeting

  28. ACT and serious mental illness: Theory and Intervention (symposium chair)

  29. Call to officers from International chapters: Evolving ACBS and strengthening the international network (co-chair)

  30. “Nothing human is alien to me.” – ACT for Psychosis – working with the Self to promote acceptance, recovery and valued living (workshop, together with Joseph Oliver)

  31. Kenneth Pakenham:

  32. Use of ACT and mindfulness to develop courage, acceptance and flexibility in people with neurological conditions (symposium discussant)

  33. A five year evaluation of a brief community-based mindfulness intervention for people with multiple sclerosis (symposium presentation)

  34. Tiffany Rochester:

  35. Connecting Women’s Voices: Supporting each other with Pro-Social Committed Action with the ACBS Community and Beyond (workshop, together with Gita Srikanth, Aisling Leonard-Curtin and Emily Sandoz)

  36. CBS Writ Large: Committed Actions and Opportunities (Ignite presentation)

  37. Ignite Presentation Chair

  38. Sacha Rombouts:

  39. Creating Flexible Labels: Self as context and defusion with children and adolescents (workshop, together with Melissa Farrell)

  40. Entering the Matrix: Process-based Values Work with Children & Parents (workshop, together with Chris McCurry)

  41. Putting the Context in Contextual Behavioral Science: Working with young people across settings (panel chair)

  42. Louise Shepherd: A little less conversation, a little more action – behavioural strategies for moving towards gender balance (within ACBS and beyond) (Panel member)

  43. Louise Shepherd and Janine Clarke: Thriving inside a volcano: Working over time with parents in high conflict separations (workshop)

  44. Emily Tuckey, Eric Morris and John Farhall: The relationship between schizotypy and well-being: the mediating role of psychological flexibility (symposium presentation)

I wish all members presenting at this year’s conference the very best as you make your final preparations for your workshops and presentations. I’m also looking forward to catching up with the many members who are making their way to Dublin to enjoy the Conference, and will see you at our Aussie/Kiwi table at the welcome social. Please share your learnings and insights across social media so that those who are sitting this one out can at least experience a little through your eyes!

I think that’s it, folks! A massive thank you to all of our Board of Directors and our Executive Officer for the many hours you commit each month to supporting and furthering the aims of ANZ ACBS. To all our members – the world we live in is far from perfect – but it is a much better place because of what you bring and who you are. It is an honour and privilege to serve this inspiring community.


5 views0 comments


bottom of page