Groupwork Centre Blog

From desire to go deeper to benchmark facilitation training

Woman Glen Ochre with hands gesturing and face alight facilitating a workshop

Glen Ochre, visionary and Co-founder of the Groupwork Institute's Advanced Diploma of Group Facilitation

How our Advanced Groupwork Facilitation Course came to be

Our co-founder Glen Ochre long harboured a passion for working with people at a deeper level, over an extended period of time. Glen was a great cook; she would take recipe books and magazines to bed and conjure up meals that looked nothing like the originals, but were specco. Similarly, Glen dreamt up the Advanced Diploma of Group Facilitation. The breadth, depth and boldness of this course are breathtaking.

First steps: Going to another level

For around two decades, Glen ran Empowerment Weekends to work at a deep level with people, to help them deal with their baggage, as she would call it. She began by offering these at a borrowed beach house in Blairgowrie to friends – and their friends – where she would provide all the food, and people did not pay anything. This is where Glen got her humble start in this deeper work.

Over time, Glen became quite well known in counselling and trauma relief circles for her capacity to help people whom others found ‘too hard’. Given her own tough upbringing, and the work she had done on herself to overcome that start in life, she was able to help people who had been through horrific things. And then there were those who had more ordinary travails – they loved her down-to-earth compassion, wisdom and care.

We established the Commonground Conference and Retreat Venue in 1984 for community-based, social action and environment groups to hold workshops, share ideas and plan for the future.  A key offer to come out of that time was Glen’s Women Empowerment Weekends (or WEWEs as they were nicknamed). Using psycho-drama, a powerful and safely-held process for participants to explore personal challenges, Glen offered these weekends for about 15 years.

“You’ll never be the same again”

Going to this level gave Glen a very good feel for the power of working deeper for longer with people. She began to fantasise about offering a broader course, for all sorts of people who could be interested in this deeper and longer work. We came up with a working title for such a course – ‘You’ll never be the same again’. Glen wanted to support people to make profound changes that would be good for them, their community and the world.

Alongside this, we were getting more and more requests for facilitation training. In 1998 we ran our first nine-day intensive Facilitation Training at  Commonground. It was a good nine days!

Once we came to Melbourne in 1999, Glen’s hunger to offer more substantial facilitation training intensified.  After finding a great place on the coast for the residential start, we planned out the flow of our year-long facilitation course

Launch of our year-long course in facilitation

We first offered the course in 2001. It was a pioneering year – ask any of the 20 participants! In 2008, we were established as a Registered Training Organisation and were proud to have this course recognised as the world’s first nationally accredited facilitation qualification.

Glen’s focus was to pursue what she would call the social revolution – to help change the hearts and minds of people. Glen was always talking about the world needing good facilitators. She firmly believed that offering this course was one very practical way to achieve this.

I hope you can join us to enable your own desire for deeper work to flourish.

Ed McKinley


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