Thursday 9 Sep 2021
⏰ MELBOURNE TIME
9.00 - 11.00 am
⏰ LOCAL START TIME
Mr Fred Wright
Workplace Conciliator, Government of Victoria, Australia
MAppSci(OD), MSW, GradDip(Crim), BA.
Fred has over 40 years experience in public sector administration in a range of operational and management positions across Victorian Government Departments including Justice, Human Services, and Environment. In 2011 he established the Organisational Ombudsman program in the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, which was the first Ombuds program in a government department in Australia.
He is a member of the Directorate of Group Relations Australia, and a board member of NIODA. He is also Chair of the International Outreach Committee and Co-Chair of the Asia Pacific Regional Advisory Committee of the International Ombudsman Association.
Knowing and coming to not know. Reflections on the dynamics operating in organisations responding to crises
My first response to the inviting title of NIODA’s 2021 Symposium was to think how ‘right’ that title felt and indeed how appropriate and timely the topic was as we fumble our way through our Covid infected world. But when I sat down to put pen to paper to consider what I might be able to contribute to the Symposium, it became apparent that both my observations and experience of working in this environment was not well reflected by the phrase ‘Not Knowing And Coming To Know’. Indeed my experience of the dynamics operating in organisations is that often what is known becomes unknown, somehow lost and inaccessible when critical decisions are to be made.
In this session, I will explore the complex and at times chaotic nature of the dynamics operating in organisations as they attempt to navigate through what are incredibly challenging times. This will include considering the impact that current high levels of anxiety and uncertainty can have upon thinking and action. Indeed under the current conditions considered thought can be replaced by unconscious enactment. I believe an example of this was analysed by the Coate inquiry into Hotel Quarantine, where it was determined that the decision about the enforcement model for people detained in quarantine was ‘adopted by acquiescence’ and indeed ‘remained an orphan, with no person or department claiming responsibility’.
Bion’s important work on memory and desire is at the heart of the theme of this conference. I will consider whether his thoughts can assist us in understanding the complexity of the current dynamics and what might be needed to support thinking under the fire of this pandemic. I will also explore whether Symington’s concept of ‘an act of freedom’ might be helpful when considering what might be needed to break the grip of these powerful dynamics.
Small group discussion; impressions of the paper and developing questions for the presenter
Discussion forum with the presenter; moderated for the speaker to elaborate their ideas
Discussion forum with the presenter; themes from the discussions
Whole symposium open reflection discussion