Meet the people who are inspiring us in the areas of compassion, empathy and leadership.

Above: Mary Freer in conversation with Prof Billy O’Connor, Lara Giddings and Dr Munjed al Muderis.

Co Lab is hosted by Mary Freer as a project of Freerthinking. After spending over 20 years working in health, Mary was awarded a Westpac Bicentennial Foundation Social Change Fellowship enabling her to meet with international leaders who are building a more compassionate health and social care system. 

Co Lab is all about joining Mary and her guests to share and learn together, both face to face and through the Co Lab Podcast.

The structure

One afternoon every month for two and a half hours sharing afternoon tea together and hearing from someone who is inspiring and wonderful.

There will be a short interview format that will be available as a podcast down the track and then a couple of hours for workshop and questions. This is about having spacious public conversations about what is important to the work of healthcare and social change.

People who are learning to be more compassionate are attracted to each. Wherever they travel they seem to find each other and have these big generous conversations where they share ideas about the ways they are showing up. This is how it is for me. I get to meet incredibly inspiring people. I think one of the most radical things I can do is introduce these people to each other and then create enough space for them to connect and learn from each other. That’s what Co Lab is all about. Come and meet the people who inspire me.  Mary Freer

Upcoming events

Co Lab

Helen Sanderson
in conversation with Mary Freer.


Creating Compassionate Communities: Helen Sanderson in conversation with Mary Freer.

Helen Sanderson has led the development of person-centred thinking and planning in the UK over the last twenty years. Helen was the Department of Health’s expert advisor on person-centred approaches for 10 years. She is the author of over twenty books.

Helen leads the social enterprise, Helen Sanderson Associates, working internationally to embed person-centred practices in the heart of organisations and communities – creating better lives together. She is also co-founder of charity Community Circles, who want to introduce circles of support at scale, as part of compassionate communities.

Helen is also the founder of Wellbeing Teams, self-managed neighbourhood teams inspired by Buurtzorg. She has been working with colleagues on ‘test and learn’ sites, and now they are starting 10 teams in the North West, supporting older people and people with learning disabilities. You can watch a short video of Helen explaining her exciting new work here.

Helen lives in Heaton Moor, with Andy and her three daughters, Ellie, Laura and Kate. She is a black belt in karate, but is now trying to spend more time doing yoga, and is learning mindfulness.

13th October 2017
2.30 – 5.00pm

Hetzel Lecture Theatre,
State Library of South Australia,
Institute Building, cnr North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, Adelaide.

Apologies Helen needs to cancel her visit to Australia
Refunds will be issued

Co Lab

Fiona Kerr
in conversation with Mary Freer.

Empathy and compassion: what makes a good leader?

Fiona Kerr is a prominent thought leader in the fields of social cognitive neuroscience (SCN) and human connectivity. Bringing together the fields of SCN and complex systems dynamics, Fiona tackles large, wicked problems by distilling complex issues into useful, pragmatic ideas, and framing them in a way which entices people to get involved and help shape change.

Fiona is a public speaker and science communicator, speaking on the neuroscience of leadership, collaboration and innovation. Her keynotes are thought provoking, precise and open people’s minds to a level of clarity that is critical to high performers.


November 2017
2pm – 4.30pm
Venue Adelaide TBA

Registration Fee $60 (plust GST)