Action learning/action research knowledge development and translation - a 'learning conference' experience


  • Robyn Lynn James Cook University
  • Michelle Redman-MacLaren James Cook University


conference, knowledge translation, action learning


This article tells a ‘learning conference’ story about the establishment of a local conversation group on action learning and action research in a regional city in Australia that occurred between the ALARA 2008 and the ALARA 2011 conferences.   We describe our 2008 conference experience, the preconference action, the 2011 conference workshop which told the story of our endeavour through an action learning cycle, and our post conference reflections.  These reflections explore facets of the ALAR Conversation group including processes employed to date around the Cairns Conversation group.  The article concludes by considering options for future action:  stay as we are; change the focus on the current geographic locale to a local/national nexus; undertake a project; or share our reflections about the group process with the local ALAR network in order to move from discussion to action. In so doing we highlight the value of engaging the ‘learning conference’ approach for future conferences.

Author Biographies

Robyn Lynn, James Cook University

Robyn is a Lecturer in Social Work and Community Welfare at James Cook University, Cairns.  She first encountered action learning as an approach to change while undertaking project work with the Qld Department of Primary Industries. This established an ongoing interest in the use of action research for professional, organisational and community development in a rural and regional context.    She has undertaken research across a broad spectrum of areas.  Her current interests include mindfulness and meditation in social work; the environment/welfare nexus in rural communities; and community gardens and local food systems.

Michelle Redman-MacLaren, James Cook University

Michelle has a passion for community development, participatory action research and for the Pacific. Michelle is an Australian social worker whose work in the Pacific has focussed on HIV prevention, with an interest in social, cultural and spiritual factors which contribute to HIV risk, particularly for women.

Michelle is currently based at JCU and is undertaking her PhD with women in PNG about HIV prevention. Michelle has also worked with a number of non-government organisations and community health settings in rural and remote Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Solomon Islands, PNG and Kosovo.