Report on SPoR Convention 2018

Originally posted on November 19, 2018 @ 9:15 AM

Report on SPoR Convention 2018

The growth and development of the Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR) Community ( was demonstrated this week in the success of the first Convention held in Canberra. Every state, territory and New Zealand were represented in the gathering with heaps of fun and learning focused on the practice of SPoR at work and in leadership.

Representation was from across a broad range of industries including manufacturing, government, local government, heavy industry, mining, building and construction, not-for-profit sector, education and agriculture.

The Program commenced with a round robin catch up between people some who have been on the journey for 10 years and others who have joined the journey in the last 6 months. Many people who didn’t know each other learned the stories of others and how they had changed practice due to the influence of SPoR in their leadership, work and tackling risk.

It was enlightening to hear of the work of Craig Ashhurst who has just completed his final chapter in his PhD on Wicked Problems at ANU. Craig’s work on Collective Coherence and his association with the Centre for Leadership and Learning in Risk ( is a critical part of the capacity of the Centre to deliver high quality studies in SPoR (




Some of the group discussions.


Craig Ashhurst presenting

Another one of the presenters was Rob Sams, author of Social Sensemaking and International presenter. Rob told his story from being anchored in ‘safety crusading’ to his recent work as a Director at Lifeline. Rob shared how his learning journey in the practice of SPoR had made a difference in his life and in the work at Lifeline as compared and contrasted the mentalies of the community and safety sectors. He also outlined his work on his second book on the ideology of heroics.


Rob Sams presenting

The next presentation was from Rob Edmonstone from Queensland Sugar on the QSL Journey. Rob provided an outline of how SPoR had changed the organization and how the application of SPoR tools had enabled and matured the organization in how they tackled risk and how they approached leadership.


Rob Edmonstone presenting

The first day concluded with a thought provoking presentation by Hayden Collins on the history of SPoR and the Social Politics of Risk. Hayden provided an excellent overview of everything from the roots of Marxism, Frankfurt School, Fromm and underlying philosophy of SPoR.


Hayden Collins Presenting

The evening dinner was a great way to extend relationships as participants brought family and friends for meeting and greeting and building new links in SPoR.

The next day was lead by Craig Ashhurst who helped facilitate conversations and semiotics reflection on learnings and challenges in application of SPoR tools and principles at work. It was great to see people working through the ways in which each person was endeavouring to humanize the workplace in what they did.



Workshop Brainstorming and Reflection

On day two we were treated to the work of Roy Fitzgerald on the semiotics and learning in risk. Roy is currently delivering his unique program using semiotic learning to over 20 countries and he shared his recent work in Russia, Nigeria and Singapore with logistics and shiploading companies. Roy uses the tools of SPoR and his unique graphic-language tools to help people learn to tackle risk in a creative and innovative way. Roy is pictured above facilitating discussion on his work.


Roy sends us to the boards for semiotic reflection

The final presentation was delivered by Gabrielle Carlton, the global leader in the Social Psychology of Resilience. Gab shared her work, models and program with the group and some of her work on her book. She has developed a unique surveying tool in association with Dr Long’s MiProfile tool and shared some of her work she has recently conducted in government and coaching in building and construction. Some of her recent blogs outline this unique approach.






Gabrielle Carlton Presenting

The Convention demonstrated just how practical the SPoR approach is and all those present testified to the effectiveness in what SPoR brings to the companies they work in. Many were able to report how the culture in their organization had matured since implementing SPoR tools.

Finally Dr Long closed the convention with a report on the developments of SPoR work in Canada, New Zealand and Europe including the new work undertaken by Michael Kruger (author of It takes Two to Tango). Rob also explained the new SPoR website ( and the upbuilding of work through the ‘risk mavens’ program.

The Centre now has over 300 students who are studying face to face ( or online ( at certificate, diploma or masters level.

If you are interested in the work of SPoR or if you wish to register interest in work in-house or in public workshops, please contact

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