Our History

Be The Change Australia is a not-for-profit organisation which was formed in January 2005 through the inspiration of Sir John Whitmore, one of the founders of Be The Change UK and the compelling injunction that “we must be the change we wish to see in the world”. When the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium Initiative was launched in Australia, Be The Change’s directors offered to auspice the initiative nationally and a creative collaboration was forged.

Since then Be The Change has grown and evolved around Australia; we are an evolutionary community of passionate people who are making a stand for change. Our purpose is to educate, inspire and empower individuals, organisations and communities to embark on a new path towards an environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling future.

Below is the story of our origins and evolution.

Origins: The Pachamama Alliance

The Pachamama Alliance is a not-for-profit organisation based in the U.S. which was born out of a relationship developed between a group of people from the modern world and the leaders of several remote indigenous groups in the Amazon rainforest basin. This relationship was initiated by the indigenous elders and shamans themselves who, of their deep concern for the growing threat to their ancient way of life, and their recognition that the roots of this threat lay far beyond their rainforest home, actively sought the partnership of committed individuals living in the modern world.

These tribes chose to engage with the Western world on their own terms, choosing for themselves the ways in which they’d like to change; the results of that partnership are widely considered one of the most successful achievements by a tribal association in South America. It is an alliance rooted in an exchange: they receive empowering skills and resources while providing invaluable wisdom and guidance.

Conception and expansion

The creation of the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium came out of the compelling request of those indigenous leaders to “change the dream” of our modern industrial culture, to “awaken from the consumer trance and restore harmony with Mother Earth”. The program was first developed by The Pachamama Alliance in early 2005 under the title Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream.

Symposiums have been held in at least 78 countries in 13 languages. Since then, thousands of facilitators have been trained worldwide, offering symposiums in over 60 countries, and hundreds of thousands of people have participated in symposiums globally. Millions of people have been touched by the Symposium’s message of connection, possibility, community and committed action for a sustainable, just and thriving future which is rippling out into society in many diverse ways.

“The Symposium is designed to accelerate the Great Turning to a just and sustainable world. It awakens us and reconnects us with our place in the web of life ..I’m very impressed with the approach and the quality of the programme.”– Joanna Macy, renowned environmental Buddhist activist and author

In Australia the Symposium Initiative is supported by Be The Change Australia. The first Awakening the Dreamer Symposiums were held in Melbourne in October 2006 and in Sydney in November 2006 under the auspice of GaiaVic.  The first facilitator training was held near Apollo Bay Victoria in January 2007; it was facilitated by Jon Love and Ruel Walker from The Pachamama Alliance and attended by 28 leaders from Victoria and New South Wales.

Since then over 500 leaders have trained to communicate the symposium’s message of connection and possibility through our educational programs in all states of Australia. In addition to the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, Be The Change supports Generation Waking Up (Youth Program), Jump Up (Primary School program) and the Inspiring Transition initiative.

As of December 2013 approaching 10,000 people have participated in events supported directly and indirectly by Be The Change. People who have participated in our programs have been empowered to create countless diverse outcomes on behalf of a sustainable, just and thriving future.

Be The Change Australia

From January 2005, the original Board Members of Be The Change Australia, Josie McLean, Michael Buck and Niran Jiang were looking at what the organisation’s purpose and mission would be. Following the first training of Awakening the Dreamer Symposium Facilitators and Community Organisers in January 2007, Be The Change became the home for the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium in Australia.

In June 2007 Josie McLean and Deane Belfield went to San Francisco to be trained as facilitator trainers and they led two facilitator trainings in Victoria in 2007 and 2008.  In November and December 2008 a series of symposiums and facilitator trainings were organised in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, catalysing communities and commitment across Australia.

In February 2009 the NSW and ACT communities were energised by the visit of Lynne Twist, co-founder of The Pachamama Alliance, who facilitated a large symposium in Sydney. A group of 27 leaders from NSW and ACT were subsequently trained as symposium facilitators and community leaders.

In February 2010, Tracy Apple and Jon Love came from The Pachamama Alliance to train 17 of our most experienced facilitators from Victoria, NSW, Queensland and WA to train symposium facilitators. Being now self-reliant with our own home grown facilitators around Australia, there was an abundance of facilitator trainings and symposiums around Australia over the following years. In 2011 the Awakening the Dreamer program was launched in Tasmania and South Australia.

Also in 2011, two new programs which were inspired by the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium were launched – Generation Waking Up Youth program and Jump Up Primary School program– and supported by Be The Change.

In 2013, Be The Change agreed to support what has now become the Inspiring Transition initiative, which has a set of unique tools for educating and inspiring people to become leaders for transformative change.

Volunteers and Funding

Be The Change’s leaders and facilitators are passionate and committed volunteers. The organisation exists in the hands and hearts of the community as a whole and the abundance of events and initiatives have all been created by volunteers.

Throughout our history we have been funded by a small group of committed donors who support our organisation and infrastructure. In 2011 we were granted tax deductible status for donations.  From time to time there has been sufficient monthly funding from donors to enable the employment of part-time paid staff who provide a sustainable foundation and leadership for our programs.

As Be The Change is predominantly volunteer-led, there is an ebb and flow of energy from state to state and program to program. Anyone wanting to be involved is urged to speak with your state coordinator, or local contact, about what’s happening and how you might participate. Interested in volunteering?


First Melbourne Symposium Oct 2006
First Sydney Symposium Nov 2006
Leaders agreed Symposium Initiative will be supported organisationally by Be The Change April 2007
US Train the Trainer (2 Australians trained) June 2007
US Train the Trainer (2 Australians trained) June 2008
Lynne Twist led biggest Symposium in Australia Feb 2009
First BTC National Coordinator contracted May 2009
Australian Train the Trainer Feb 2010
Bike the Earth 2010/2011 
First group of teachers trained WA April 2011
Second BTC National Coordinator contracted July 2011
Second group of teachers trained WA Sept 2011
National Strategic Manager contracted Dec 2011
Financial Administrator contracted May 2012
TRIBES (Leader and Facilitator Trainings)
Messmate Playgroup Tribe photo-small
Fukawe Vic Jan 2007
Commongrounders  Vic Aug 2007
Dawn Dancers Vic May 2008
Armahjeru Vic Nov 2008
Coot-thaa QLD Nov 2008
Chitty Chitty Danju WA Nov 2008
27 Crows ACT/NSW March 2009
Bamarang ACT/NSW March 2010
Jarrah Jarrah WA June 2010
Ganassi Vic Sept 2010
Eerwahbees QLD Sept 2010
Winds of Change Vic Jan 2011 (First Cross Generational training) Community
Boondarra QLD Feb 2011
Yiliy Aroha WA March 2011
Island Dreaming QLD April 2011
Aurora Nubeena TAS May 2011
The Rock & The Tree WA June 2011
Inspirals QLD Aug 2011
Kinecota Vic Sept 2011
Ajukajive WA Nov 2011
Messmate Playgroup Vic Jan 2012
Flying Seeds Vic Jan 2012 (First Gen Up Training)
Rainbow Warriors Vic April 2012 (First Jump Up training)
Nubees Tas July 2012
Silent Ovation SA August 2012
BelongSong NSW August 2012
Te Aroha Vic Sept 2012 (Gen Up)
Kulbardis WA Oct 2012
Satya Ubuntu Vic Jan 2013 (GenUp)
 New Kadajin WA May 2013
Companions of the Heart Vic Sept 2013
Weliga  Vic Oct 2013 (Jump Up)