Committee of Management

Group Relations Australia has a Committee of Management whose members are elected for two year terms at the Annual General Meeting held in September each year.

The Committee of Management for 2017-2018 is:

  • Joanne Fitzgerald (President)
  • Allan Shafer (Past President)
  • Mike Faris (Treasurer)
  • Kerrie Hancox (Secretary)
  • Cathy Whelan (Ordinary member)
  • Michael Donnelly (Ordinary member)
  • Ora Bernard (Ordinary member)


Joanne Fitzgerald BSc(Hons) MAppPsych MAPS MAICD

Joanne has been a member of GRA since it formed and has actively hosted and facilitated a number of its members' learning events over the past 6 years.  She attended her first group relations conference at the Treacy Centre in Melbourne in 1995, has attend three other conferences in Victoria since then and has worked on the staff of two, including the most recent Changing Relationships @ Work: Accountability, Authority and Engagement Conference.  A registered Organisational Psychologist since 1993, for the past 17 years Joanne has worked as the director of her own consulting company Designed Interventions in which she works with a range of organisations and industries in frameworks that are informed by both sound psychology research, and by socioanalysis.  In designing interventions that meet the unique needs of each individual, group and organisation, Joanne's work constantly challenges her to learn, experiment and  explore with her clients. 


(vacant position)


Past President

Allan Shafer MA (Clin Psych) D Litt et Phil

Allan Shafer (Clinical Psychologist & Socioanalyst) has 40 years experience as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, clinical supervisor and organisation consultant. Originally trained in South Africa, he has worked primarily in private practice in Johannesburg, Perth & since 2011 in Melbourne.

He was President of the Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy of Western Australia and is a member of the Victorian Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association, a past executive member of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia and a member of ISPSO. He was a founding member of Group Relations Australia.

He has also consulted to mental health, educational, religious & other NGO, public and and private sector organisations in Australia, South Africa, Singapore and the USA and directed or consulted on the staff of group relations conferences in Australia, Israel, India, Poland, China and the UK.


Keeps correct accounts; provides financial reports to CoM to enable management decision-making and to GRA membership for accountability; ensures compliance with financial statutory obligations; oversees collection and receipt of GRA’s income and makes all authorised payments. Also a member of the Business Operations Committee.

Mike Faris

For some 30 years Mike designed and conducted graduate programs in leadership, management and change at RMIT University and had a close working relationship with colleagues at Swinburne. Before then he worked in the Whitlam public service and is a Vietnam veteran. He has a PhD in Human and Organisational Systems, a BA (Philosophy and Politics), MBA and MA.

Mike is a co-founder of GRA and served on the committee in its early years. He has also held committee positions in other non-profit professional associations such as, AITD; AIHR; AISA; ODN.

He consulted to many organisations whilst being an academic (1980-2009) and  since then been a volunteer. Between 2010 and 2014 he was Secretary-Treasurer of ISPSO, then Executive Director until December 2015 and became Treasurer of GRA in September 2016.


Kerrie Hancox  MApp Sci in Psych Nursing, Grad Cert Organisational Dynamics, Grad Dip in Family and Gestalt Therapy

I am a new member of GRA but not new to socioanalysis. I became interested in socioanalysis in the late 1990’s and started studying in the fellowship program with AISA, then going onto RMIT to study Organisational Dynamics.
I have a master’s in psychiatric nursing, with specialised education in developmental psychiatry, Gestalt psychotherapy, Family therapy and Organisation dynamics. I have 30 years’ experience working in acute care settings across inpatient, management, emergency departments and consulting to organisations before coming into head office. My current role is Principal Practice Leader – Disability with DHHS.

Ordinary Members

Cathy Whelan, Grad Dip Business, M Applied Science (Org. Dynamics)

Cathy is a socio-analytically oriented consultant who works with a wide range of organisations on change, learning & strategic development processes.  Prior to establishing her own small consulting company in 2000, Cathy held a range of senior management and leadership roles in the community sector and local government.

Cathy is an Associate of Mt Eliza Executive Education - Melbourne Business School (University of Melbourne), has been a sessional lecturer and tutor in organisational studies (Victoria University) and local government (RMIT University) and has been on staff of Group Relations Conferences.  She is a member of ISPSO & OPUS.

Cathy works in collaboration with other socio-analytically oriented consultants as well as associates with relevant content or specialist expertise.  She joined the GRA Committee of Management in 2015 and currently chairs the Victorian Coastal Council.


Ordinary member

Michael Donnelly

After a long career in secondary education and one almost as long in the leadership of a not for profit community service organisation, Michael joined the ranks of the recently retired enabling him to volunteer his time and skills to a variety of organisations doing important and valuable work for our community.

Thirty years of that career was spent in a variety of leadership positions and involvement with the psychodynamic work that underpins Group Relations Australia was customarily from the perspective of enquirer rather than consultant!

Michael's professional Group Relations qualification is RMIT's Dip. Bus. (Organisation Change and Development) and other professional qualifications are B.A. (in Earth Sciences), M Ed. Studies (in Psychology of Learning and Instruction), Grad. Cert. HRM and Grad. Cert. Accounting.

He has 'bookended' his time in significant leadership roles with participation in Group Relations Conferences.  When he first became a High School Principal he attended the AISA Lorne Conference in 1991 and then again in 2010, near the end of his time as CEO of a disability service provider, he attended GRA's Group Relations Conference 2010.

It was GRA's decision to focus on Seeking Asylum that particularly fostered Michael's 'attachment' to GRA.


Ora Bernard, PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (McGill University), Master in Psychoanalysis studies (Monash University). 

Her first encounter with Socioanalysis was when she completed a one year course of socioanalysis organized by Allister Bain and Stanley Gold. Her interest in organization psychodynamics led her to join AISA and to attempt to graduate in its fellowship program. She participated as a member in a Lorne conference directed by Allan Shafer. She has been a member of GRA since its formation.



Charlotte Watson

Caroline works closely with the GRA Committee of Management, particularly supporting the President, Vice president, Secretary and Treasurer in their roles.  Her tasks include administration, sending newsletters and updating the website. Caroline is the contact for journal subscribers and those with general enquiries about GRA and its activities. 

As well as work for GRA, she is administrator/office manager to other small organisations, and Curator of Tinning Street Presents Gallery.


Committee of Management Meetings

Key Dates for 2018

The Committee of Management meets for full days, several times a year. Members are encouraged to notify the GRA Secretary if they wish to meet the Committee to discuss any matter, or if they wish to attend as an observer.

Meeting dates for 2018

10 March
21 April
19 May
14 July
25 August


Members can access AGM minutes at the following page.

Committee Structure

Working Groups and Sub-Committees

Working groups progress the work of the Committee between meetings. These include the Standing Group for Business Operations, comprising the Office-bearers of the Association, and sub-committees reporting to the Committee of Management.

Each group is chaired by a Committee member and includes representatives from the wider membership of GRA where applicable.

The groups in all are:

There are places open on all Sub-committees for members wishing to actively participate in the work of the group.

If you would like to be involved please contact the Chairs of each group. We are keen to work with members on developing GRA as a vigorous, creative and relevant Association.