Chapter Eleven - Fraser House Outreach





This chapter details the various ways Neville extended Fraser House into wider society, and discusses how these varied social actions were consistent with Cultural Keyline and fitted into Neville’s evolving frameworks for fostering humane caring transitions in the global-local social-life folk world. The term ‘Functional Matrices’ is defined, and Neville’s evolving of them towards creating the Laceweb is discussed.




Neville’s intention and outreach after leaving Fraser House is neatly stated in his 1980 letter to the Therapeutic Community Journal:


The Therapeutic Community model has been extended into humanitarian mutual help for social change’ (1980b)


Recall that Maxwell Jones had written:


The psychiatric hospital can be seen as a microcosm of society outside, and its social structure and culture can be changed with relative ease, compared to the outside. For this reason ‘therapeutic communities’ to date have been largely confined to psychiatric institutions. They represent a useful pilot run preliminary to the much more difficult task of trying to establish a therapeutic community for psychiatric purposes in society at large (1968, p. 86).


Having had his Fraser House experience, Neville was commencing to do just what Jones had been intimating – establishing therapeutic communities for psychiatric purposes in society at large. Neville began applying Cultural Keyline with the same pervasively interwoven and ‘total’ pattern of action of Fraser House process in many varied action research projects in the private sector. Neville created many contexts where people were sharing experience and responsibility in helping each other in evolving and sustaining social action research. In each context, the social reconstituting potency of the ongoing action research was as important, or more important than the outcomes. As in Fraser House, Neville’s intention was to explore Cultural Keyline in action - community processes for people embodying how to move towards being well together. The different outreach actions were interconnected with each other, as well as with Fraser House way. In each action Neville used all of the aspects of Cultural Keyline mentioned above - in broad terms:


1.    Attending and sensing and supporting self-organising, emergence, and Keypoints conducive to coherence within social contexts – monitoring theme, mood, values and interaction

2.    Forming cultural locality (people connecting together connecting to place)

3.    Strategic, design and emergent context-guided theme-based perturbing of the social topography

4.    Sensing and attending to the natural social system self-organising in response to the perturbing, and monitoring outcomes


A framing theme in all of the action research outreach was:


‘Exploring what works in community-based reconstituting of society through humane caring community mutual-help action - towards epochal change’.


Neville’s aims were:


1.    to explore re-constituting process among people on the margins within the old cultural synthesis, and then

2.    to move as far away as he could to evolve a new cultural synthesis - first Sydney, and then the Australia Top-End.


The ways in which Neville extended Fraser House processes into the wider community include:


1)    Taking on advisory roles with peak bodies in health and other areas – for legitimating and protecting action

2)    Taking Fraser House ways into the community by being Australia’s first Coordinator of Community Mental Health Services and setting up Community Mental Health Centres; Neville widening his scope of action to include community health using a biopsychosocial frame-work

3)    Extending intercultural action research towards global change by evolving links with many Asian and African community groups in Sydney

4)    Evolving (with others) festivals, gatherings and other happenings:


i)      Watsons Bay Festival      

ii)     The Paddington Festival, and from this, the evolving of Paddington Bazaar (a community market) for ‘villaging’ his first mental health centre (in Paddington)  

iii)    Centennial Park Festival  

iv)   Other community events 

v)    Campbelltown Festival    

vi)   Aquarius Festival 

vii)  ConFest (Conference Festival)   

viii) Cooktown Arts Festival    


5)    Forming the Keyline Trust to spread the word on Keyline          

6)    Contributing suggestions which were adopted in divorce law reform, and spreading the use of mediation

7)    Writing newspaper columns called ‘Keylines’ and ‘Yeomans Omens’    

8)    Introducing Cultural Keyline implicitly to business and other organisations

9)    Forming and evolving self-help groups

10) Becoming an election candidate 




During the Sixties and early Seventies, Neville was very active in many advisory roles in mainstream organisations, including peak state and national bodies advising government. Neville said (Aug 1999) that he was intentionally very active on advisory bodies at this stage of his life in order to have, and sustain a very high public and professional profile, and to legitimate, protect, and support Fraser House and Fraser House outreach. This was the same reason he went out of his way to be featured in a constant stream of newspaper and magazine articles (1965a; 1965b). These links helped ensure Fraser House’s survival for as long as it did (discussions Neville, June-Oct, 1998; interview Cockett, April 1999).


Neville advised a number of health organisations as well as organisations focusing on softening drug and alcohol abuse, as well as Aboriginal Affairs and criminology. Neville was the chairperson and founding director of a number of them. For Example, Neville was a Member of the NSW State Clinicians Conference, a founding director of the NSW Foundation for the Research and Treatment of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency and a founding director of the national body of the above organization, a member of the Committee of Classification of Psychiatric Patterns of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and an advisor to the Research Committee of the New South Wales College of General Practitioners (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 12, p. 96). Neville hinted to me (Aug 1998) that he had more than the twenty five advisory roles listed in Appendix 24.


The extent of Neville’s advisory work evidences firstly, the breadth of Neville’s acceptance in many spheres, secondly, his acceptance at the highest level in these peak advisory bodies, and thirdly, the breadth and inter-relatedness of his praxis.




Despite extensive enquiry, the best I could determine was that Neville finally left Fraser House some time in 1968/9. He began extending the model of the Lane Cove and Ryde Community Psychiatry Programs that he had energized prior to leaving Fraser House. Neville focused his energies on extending the healing ways evolved at Fraser House into ways of individual and communal self-help healing. He and his personal assistant Margaret Cockett were extending the therapeutic community option (as shown in Figures 1 and 3 in Chapter Ten) into the wider community as dispersed (not all living together) urban therapeutic communities. This was the precursor to the Laceweb as networked dispersed remote area therapeutic communities and networks.


Prior to leaving Fraser House, Neville had spoken continually of the need to create a new section within the NSW Public Health System called Community Mental Health. While still at Fraser House, Neville wrote a detailed monograph entitled, ‘The Role of a Director of Community Mental Health (Yeomans, N. 1965x). This was a proposal, a ‘job description’ and a ‘CV’ all rolled into one. His suggestion was adopted and upon leaving Fraser House he became the coordinator of the New South Wales Community Mental Health Services. Margaret Cockett characterizes Neville’s leaving Fraser House as his being ‘promoted upstairs’ - because he was becoming too well known, and also a threat to parts of the Health Department hierarchy.


Neville made ‘Margaret Cockett going with him as his personal assistant’ a condition of his taking the position of the first head of Community Mental Health; this was accepted. As an indication of the lack of support for this new section within the Health Department, Neville and Margaret were provided with an unfurnished room a couple of blocks down from the main Health Department building. According to Margaret Cockett (August 1999), some evenings in the few weeks after Neville got this new position, passers-by would have seen the two of them ‘spiriting’ ‘unwanted’ desks, filing cabinets, chairs and other little needs to make their section a little more functional. Neville and Margaret were finding it hard to get departmental cooperation. Neville said (July, 1998) that his Fraser House detractors in the health department were making things difficult for him in setting up Community Mental Health.


Neville set up Australia’s first Community Mental Health Clinic in 1969 in the vestry at the back of the Methodist Church in Oxford Street in Paddington. It was the first of such centres in Australia. Mangold, in his photographic record of the history of the Paddington Bazaar writes of Dr. Yeomans being the primary inspiration for realizing Reverend Peter Holden's dream of 'villaging the church' in Paddington (Mangold 1993, p. 4). The following two photos were taken by M. Mangold.



Photo 1. ‘Villaging’ the Church in Paddington – photo by M.Mangold - reproduced with permission


Neville’s suggestion was to surround the Paddington Community Mental Health Centre and the Church with a Saturday community bazaar. This was fully consistent with the Fraser House model of imbedding the Unit within the local community, as well as inviting the community into Fraser House.


In Photo 31 the Vestry where Neville had his first Community Mental Health Centre is the brick building on the left. The Church is on the right. Between and around both buildings is where the Paddington Bazaar is held each Saturday morning. Adjacent the Vestry was a hall Neville used for community meetings. This is where Neville and his friends planned a series of Festivals (Mangold 1993, p. 4-11). Neville wanted to create the public space of a small friendly village market reminiscent of Tikopia, where everybody knows everybody and meets each other regularly. Neville wanted to replicate the healing and integrative aspects of ‘small village life’ (Tönnies and Loomis 1963) of Fraser House around the vestry in Paddington. The community mental health centre has long gone, though Paddington Market survives to this day as a Sydney icon. Every Saturday morning crowds mingle and meet at the Bazaar. Buskers entertain. The place is vibrant and alive. It still serves as a public community place for enriching community life.



Photo 2 Mangold’s photo of where Neville’s Community Mental Health Centre was surrounded with community - reproduced with permission


The next section details Neville’s intercultural outreach.


Community Health


In 1968/69 there were moves to merge the Hospital’s Commission that ran the NSW State Hospitals and the Health Department that administered the hospital staff. According to Cockett (Sept 2004), this merger meant that many of the top people who had been opposed to Neville became focused on vying for who would get the top posts in the merged administration. Margaret Cockett said that during this time when there was some let up in the constant opposition, Neville took the opportunity to widen his thinking and action from Community Mental Health to Community Health.


Neville and Margaret began linking with as many people as they could that were initiating innovative action in the community towards health in the widest sense. Margaret said (Sept 2004) that when Neville and Margaret went looking for those broadening the views of community about ‘community’, very prevalent among the community innovators were Fraser House ex-patients and members of the Psychiatric Research Study Group. The late Sixties and early Seventies were times when there was a great spirit of change in the community and Neville and Margaret through their Fraser House action and momentum were well placed to be catalysts energising and linking possibilities. One aspect of this outreach by Neville and Margaret was forging links with the Asian and African community in Sydney discussed in the next section.




Neville’s interest in action towards epochal transition within intercultural contexts is further evidenced by his extensive involvement in cultural bodies during the late Sixties. He involved himself in the bodies listed below in the following roles (Aug, 1998):


Senior Vice President Japan - Australia Friendship Association

Councillor Japan - Australia Society

Council member Australia - Indonesia Association


   Africa - Australia Association

   Thailand - Australia Association

   Pakistan - Australia Association

   India League

   Australian Institute of Internal Affairs


As head of Community Mental Health, Neville and Margaret Cockett started community based psychosocial groups. After sustained networking action by both of them, they had a number of university students studying in Sydney under the Colombo plan join their psychosocial groups. These students were having trouble adjusting to living and studying in Australia. Colombo Plan Students in Sydney Universities had set up their own social groups. Margaret and Neville divided these student groups between the two of them. Margaret said (Sept 2004) that Neville took the Asian groups and Margaret took the African ones. They approached and introduced themselves to the respective groups and became active in these associations.


This involvement enabled Neville and Margaret to attend these organizations’ joint and several activities and help them in forming/extending mutual support networks among participants. Neville said he used this interaction to refine what he called ‘intercultural enabler’ competencies and sensitivities. Joining the Asia based clubs provided an opportunity for Neville to explore community mutual help, this time with an intercultural wellness theme. Intercultural cooperating was an important aspect of his epochal transition action research.


It was through the Asia Club that Neville met and married his second wife Lien, a Vietnamese exchange student (Yeomans and Yeomans 2001). The photo below was taken from Lien’s book, ‘The Green Papaya’ with permission (Yeomans and Yeomans 2001).



Photo 3 Neville and Lien on their wedding day on 27 November 1972 – photo taken with permission from Lien’s book, ‘The Green Papaya’ (Yeomans and Yeomans 2001)




Neville was a founding member of the Sydney Opera House Society formed in 1968 that worked to have the Danish designer Jorn Utson complete the building. It was through this society that Neville met Elias Duek-Cohen a town planner who would be involved in endeavouring to further Nevilles father’s City Forest (Yeomans, P. A. 1971b)  processes in the Nineties.


Duek-Cohen explored the implementation of P.A. Yeomans’ ‘City Forest’ ideas and had energised the potential of research by Landcom (founded as the Land Commission of New South Wales in 1975.) Consistent with the response to P.A.’s ideas in the Sixties and Seventies, LandCom found that some people they approached about doing the research were very keen and others were very opposed. LandCom did not proceed with the research (phone discussion with Duek-Cohen Sept 2004).


As an indication of the ‘positioning’ of the Sydney Opera House Society, as well as Neville other committee people included:


Mr Gordon Samuels – QC, later Judge, Chancellor of University of NSW, and Governor of NSW


Michael Baume - Top Diplomatic post in Washington


Peter Coleman - Premier of NSW


(From a copy of membership application form posted to me by Elias Duek-Cohen)




The Watsons Bay Festival


The following section uses the Watson’s Bay Festival as an example of Neville’s use of Festivals towards new cultural syntheses. In the Sixties, Neville joined with Margaret Cockett and others in forming, and becoming the president of the Total Care Foundation, a registered charity. This entity was one of many formed by Neville to replicate Fraser House community mutual help. This Total Care foundation was used to evolve and hold the Watson’s Bay Festival in 1968 on Sydney’s South Head. Watson’s Bay Festival was the first of seven festival energized/influenced by Neville.


The process of exploring how people change as they work together to change aspects of society was as important to Neville as evolving and holding some event. Neville used the process of organizing festivals and events in order to evolve networks and community. In the process of coming together to put on the Watsons Bay Festival the participants were forming cultural locality (people connecting together connecting to place. During Festival-based preparatory interacting Neville was using Cultural Keyline - constantly attending and sensing and supporting self-organising, emergence, and Keypoints conducive to coherence within the festival generating contexts – monitoring theme, mood, values and interaction. He would strategically perturb to foster emergence.


The Watsons Bay gathering was another opportunity for Neville to explore community mutual help, this time with the combined themes of ‘intercultural cooperation’ and ‘all forms of artistry for wellness’. With the 1968 Watson’s Bay Festival, Neville fostered multiculturalism in Australia. The Watson’s Bay Festival in Watson’s Park was more than multicultural, it was intercultural in that it fostered sharing links among strangers from differing cultures – a precursor of later Laceweb intercultural healing action. The Watson’s Bay gathering demonstrated an early Laceweb resonance with what Neville called ‘cultural healing action’, where social action combines music making, percussion, singing, chanting, dancing, reading poetry, storytelling, artistry, and sculpting – all within intercultural festive and celebratory contexts. 


A planning letter from Neville’s Total Care Foundation (Appendix 26) to the Sydney Town hall details that the Watsons Bay Festival would be held Sunday 13 October 1968 from 11:30 AM to 4:30 PM at Robertson Park and Watson Bay Park, and that it would be completely open to public with no fees. Preplanning for the Paddington Festival is also mentioned. The Watsons Bay Festival would feature an international display of music, dancing and national costumes. Artefacts would be displayed at the Watsons Bay Branch library, including a display by artists John Olsen and Brian Cummins. Clickers would be given out so the crowd could ‘Clickerlong’ with the Bands in the evening. Neville’s blending together of all forms of artistry is a repeated theme in all of the events he energised throughout his life and parallels use of all forms of artistry in Indigenous life.


Another letter to the Town Hall in Sydney (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 12, p. 13)  speaks of the Women’s’ Social Group, called the Care Free Committee of the Total Care Foundation, helping with the evolving of the Watson’s Bay Festival. This social group was another process for bonding people together. Neville always gave some care to his naming of groups and collectives. “Care Free’ has multiple meanings; ‘care-free’ as in ‘joyous’, ‘care provided free’ and ‘being free of care’. Having a women’s group was consistent with cleavering into sub-groups at Fraser House. The letter states that during the Festival there was an art exhibition at the Masonic Hall. One Gallery alone lent $14,000 of paintings.

Neville timed the Watson’s Bay Festival to coincide with the Sydney All Nations Waratah Festival during 6-13 October 1968. This timing to coincide with a large festival is a precursor to Neville’s evolving micro-gatherings as pre or post gatherings to large global conferences in the Nineties, discussed later.

In keeping with Neville’s intercultural synthesis focus, the Watson’s Bay Festival featured the cultural artistry from twenty-three different countries (Appendix 25).

This is resonant with lines from Neville’s poem about Inma (meaning Intercultural Normative Model Areas):

It believes in the coming-together, the inflow of alternative human energy, from all over the world.

The Second Festival – The Paddington Festival

To launch Paddington Bazaar to surround his Paddington Community Mental Health Centre, Neville worked with the local community in evolving the Paddington Festival. Creating a community public place (cultural locality) – the Paddington Bazaar was one of Neville’s themes in exploring community mutual help in energising the Paddington Festival. It was held over the weekend of 21 - 22 June 1969. On the Saturday there was a market bazaar in the main Paddington Town Hall. The Paddington Mid Year Festival was held the next day. The Paddington Bazaar evolved out of the community energy of this festival. The Bazaar, also called Paddington market, thrives to this day as a community market. This model of embedding self-help wellbeing-focused action within everyday community contexts, and at times helping to constitute these contexts, is a central concept within the Laceweb. It is resonant with Tikopia way.

Festival Three - Centennial Park Festival


The next Festival Neville and others evolved was the Centennial Park Festival, a few kilometres from the Sydney Central Business District. The Festival covered 540 acres in the North Eastern Valley. This was Australia’s first hippie festival. Neville placed a number of Centennial Park Festival photos in his Mitchell Library Collected Papers (Yeomans, N. 1965b) – refer Photo 33 below.


Neville was also a founding member of the Sydney Arts Foundation. This Foundation was the organizer of the Centennial Park Festival (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 12, p. 36). Again, for Neville, the shared experience of foundation members working out how to get things happening together was a central focus. The key aim of the Sydney Arts Foundation was to establish an arts centre in Sydney (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 12, p. 36). The Centennial Park Festival was supported by many Embassies, Consuls, civic groups, arts groups, national and international societies and clubs and schools.  Neville’s inviting the support of many foreign embassies continued his ‘intercultural cooperating’ theme in events. He was also exploring the strengthening of civil society based artistry. The range of events at the Centennial Park festival is detailed in Appendix 27.


Festival Four - Campbelltown Festival


Neville, Lien, his younger brother Ken, and Ken’s wife Stephanie were the key organizers of a small, though very important Festival in 1971. It was held at another country property Neville’s father had acquired off Wedderburn Road five kilometres from Cambelltown, which in turn is around 50 kilometres down the main highway from Sydney towards Melbourne. According to Bill Elliott (Sept, 2004) (a long term ConFest attendee – ConFest is described shortly), as well as Ken and Stephanie Yeomans (Sept 2004), the Cambelltown Festival was small, with around 150 attending.


Many of the cast and crew of the hit musical ‘Hair’ attended and added to the passion and artistry. Neville, Ken, and Stephanie have all attested to the fact that there was a real fervour among the attendees to mount a very large festival that would celebrate and engender possibilities for a New Age – to quote the ‘Hair’ hit tune, a festival for the ‘Dawning of the Age of Aquarius’.


After the attendees had packed up the Cambelltown Festival they held a meeting in an old shed near the Yeomans’ farmhouse where it was resolved to put on a festival and call it the Aquarius Festival. They had a target figure of 15,000 people attending.


In their preliminary discussion at Campbelltown about the proposed Aquarius Festival, they decided that they wanted to work cooperatively with local people around the proposed Festival site, have local people having a say in the Festival and sharing in any profits, and preferably using the farm lands of more than one farmer. They also wanted the whole process for evolving the Festival to be organic and natural – to be self-organizing.


It is possible to see Neville’s Cultural Keyline design principles being introduced by Neville as a theme and having an influence on the decisions of this planning group. Note the implicit Cultural Keyline principles:


1.    Enable and design contexts where resonant people self organize in mutual help

2.    Have outside enablers work and network with the local people in the region

3.    The local people have the say in meeting their own needs

4.    Support the local people in networking – (Festival on a number of farms)

5.    Local people get flow-on (share in profits)

6.    The local action is self-organizing




Photo 4 Article and Photo on Centennial Park Attendees – Sydney Morning Herald



At the Cambelltown Festival meeting Ken Yeomans used his knowledge of Keyline to search maps of New South Wales to find a good place for the Festival. He suggested the Nimbin region in the hills at the back of Byron Bay. It was a beautiful green area of undulating forest and farm country, though stagnating economically. Two people were empowered by the Campbelltown meeting to set off in search of sites and the result became the Aquarius Festival. Again, the process of setting up such a large event provided a scope for Neville to action research how people may reconstitute themselves towards a more rich wellbeing through community mutual help. The process is in many ways more important than the outcome.


Festival Five – The Aquarius Festival


The Aquarius Festival did take place in Nimbin and 15,000 people did attend. It became the first of the large alternative festivals in Australia.


The Festival did make a profit and the local community decided that their share of the profits be used to create a municipal swimming pool. This was agreed to, and Ken Yeomans designed it using Keyline principles. The pool still functions well to this day. It is round and has a sand base over concrete. It very gently slopes in from the edges to become deep in the centre. The water flows up from below in the centre, and flows out at the edges. The sand stays in place. The young children enjoy the shallows. The Tuntable Falls Commune was started from some of the Festival proceeds, and was designed on Keyline principles. That commune continues to this day.


Festival Six – ConFest


When Jim Cairns, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister under Gough Whitlam, his personal assistant Junie Morosi, David Ditchburn and others in the mid Seventies began preparing the first ConFest - short for ‘conference-festival’, Jim Cairns and his group chose to meet in the Church Hall next door to Neville’s Community Mental Health Centre in Paddington (Mangold 1993).



Photo 5 Ken Yeomans – Photo from Ken Yeomans’ Web Site (Yeomans, K. 2005)


Neville and others had energized a small urban commune focused around the Paddington Community Mental Health Centre and the Bazaar. The Hall next to the Vestry had become a regular Sydney meeting place for people who had been the energizers of the Aquarius Festival.



Photo 6 Photo by Michael Mangold - Used with permission. The Hall (next to the Vestry) where the ConFest planning meetings were held


Neville attended the ConFest planning meetings next door and contributed to the planning of the first ConFest - Cotter River, 1976. Ken Yeomans used Keyline principles to set up the water system at the Bredbo ConFest, Mt. Oak in 1977. Ideas from his father’s book, ‘The City Forest’ book (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 12, p. 44; Yeomans, P. A. 1971b) were used to lay out ConFest roads along ridgelines.


Walking workshop/conferences were held on Keyline. ConFests have been held since the Seventies. The Australian Down to Earth Network (ADTEN) was formed as an administrative body and ADTEN subgroups formed throughout Australia holding a number of ConFest inspired gatherings. Since the early Nineties five/six day events have being held over both the New Year and Easter periods. They are typically on the Murray River, or one of its tributaries in the Victorian–New South Wales border region.



Photo 7 Deputy Prime Minister Jim Cairns speaking at ConFest  - photo from DTE Archives


Following encouragement by Neville to become involved in ConFest, I am one of around ten people who select ConFest sites and energize the initial site layout and set up; a few days before ConFest, site volunteer numbers swell to around 100. I have surveyed 36 potential sites. Since 1992, I have regularly attended ConFest and have been the one providing enabling support to the workshop process since 1994.


Between 150 and 300 workshops and events are held each ConFest on a very wide range of topics relating to all aspects of the web of life consistent with Cultural Keyline. Also consistent with Cultural Keyline, the ConFest workshop process is totally self-organizing.


Photo 8 Photo I took of ConFest Workshop Notice Boards all prepared for ConFestors to arrive - December 2002



Photo 9 Villages at ConFest (photo from DTE archive)


With Neville’s subtle orchestrating during the initial planning of the first ConFest, the site set-up process for this Conference-Festival after twenty seven years is still based upon the enabled self-organizing community and implicitly uses Keyline and Cultural Keyline features. Nature guides design and layout. A few volunteers with the way walk the site till it becomes familiar to them. The land ‘tells’ the set-up crew where things can be well placed. Natural barriers such as creek banks may mark the self-organizing edge of the car free camping area.


The ConFest site is ‘organically’ set up. It is set up by voluntary action. No one is ‘in charge’ though there are a few designated coordinators. Knowledge of what needs to be done and ways to do the things are distributed among the volunteers. It is self-organizing. It works. It is designed - roads are made, beaches created on creek or river, showers and taps installed. There are hot tubs and steamrooms. Everyone attending is asked to volunteer two hours during the ConFest. Site pack up takes around two weeks and we hardly leave a trace that we have been there at all.


Consistent with Fraser House and other action research contexts energised by Neville, only four people linked to ConFest and the Down To Earth Cooperative that puts on ConFest have any knowledge of Cultural Keyline, even though the site set up and pull down people as well as ConFest itself generally follows Cultural Keyline way – some people have embodied the way and can pass this on to others as lived experience. The core group and the thousands who attend have embodied the Cultural Keyline process without any understanding. Like Fraser House, ConFest is a ‘transitional community’; there are always enough people who already know the ConFest way to induct first-timers into the ConFest Community experience. ConFest does continually attract some mainstream people who want to manage, direct, and control and these typically give up and leave, or adapt to the self organising organic unfolding way.


Some feel for the potency and mood of the first ConFest (at Cotter River in December 1976) may be obtained by reading the manifesto written by attendees included as Appendix 28 in this thesis. That they have embodied non-expressible knowingness is implied by the words, ‘No words can say what we are.’




Photo 10 ConFest sites are always chosen with special places – photo from DTE’s archive


Festival Seven – The Cooktown Arts Festival


Shortly after the Aquarius Festival and the first ConFest in the Seventies, Jaciamo Caffarelli a musician and painter (who was a Fraser House outpatient in 1961 who gave me permission to use his name) along with his wife Pamela were key energizers of the Cooktown Arts Festival in Cooktown on Cape York, Far North Queensland. Jaciamo had stayed in touch with Neville after Jaciamo ceased being an outpatient. Coincidently, Jaciamo was living directly opposite Neville in Yungaburra when Neville bought his house there in the Nineties. I spoke extensively with Jaciamo and Pamela about the Cooktown Arts Festival and his memories of Fraser House and Neville while I stayed with them at their place in Yungaburra for a week and travelled with them to the Laura Aboriginal Festival in June 2001.


At the time of the Cooktown Arts Festival, Cooktown was an extremely remote outpost of about 350 people on Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland. It was approachable from Cairns by a day’s drive over a torturous road. Given the remoteness and difficulty getting there, it was extraordinary that over a 2,500 people attended from all over Australia, with people coming from overseas. Jaciamo modelled the Cooktown Art Festival on Neville's Watson's Bay Festival, the Aquarius Festival and ConFest.




Photo 11 Photo I took of Jacaimo at Laura Festival


Given the remoteness, the festival was very rich. Jaciamo told me (July 2001) that the events included three three-act plays - complete with stage, scenery, costumes, orchestra and lighting. One was a Chekhov play – The Cherry Orchard. A puppeteer put on regular shows. As well, the Cairns Youth orchestra played along with a number of swing and trad jazz bands, pop groups and a xylophone/percussion group. Spontaneous acoustic music jamming sessions abounded. Neville Yeomans, Jim Cairns (Deputy Prime Minister), and Bill Mollison, one of the founders of permaculture, were speaker/workshop presenters. There was a very active workshop scene on all aspects of wellbeing.


The next six sections detail other outreach by Neville.




As part of Neville’s adapting of Keyline to Cultural Keyline and merging the two of them in his action research, Neville set up the Keyline Trust with support from Ken and Stephanie Yeomans as well as Margaret Cockett and others (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 12, p. 44).


The Objects of the Trust were:


a)    To produce and distribute documents, papers, photos, stickers, films and other communications, cultural and artistic materials and productions


b)    Such materials and productions to be Australian in origin and dominantly for the purposes of enhancing community cooperation and mutual support, locality, self respect, friendliness, creativity, culturally appropriate peaceful nationalism and multinational regional cooperation


c)    To assist other bodies with similar aims


The middle object of the Trust, clause (b), is a succinct statement of Laceweb action. Notice (i) the use of the term ‘locality’ in that clause - meaning connexion to place and (ii) the implied ‘cultural locality’ at the local, regional and global levels. In using the word ‘dominantly’ in the context of the gentle purposes of the Trust, Neville is using the juxtapositioning of the incongruous for provocative effect. The Trust gatherings were another opportunity for Neville to explore community mutual help, this time with a Keyline and implicit Cultural Keyline theme.


Neville always took great care in wording documents. Neville was very interested in the derivation and meaning of words. Often we would look up word meanings together. Neville took the time to very carefully draft letters and other documents. We often engaged in hundreds of hours on some documents. Examples are firstly the ‘Extegrity Document’ (Yeomans and Spencer 1999) discussed in Chapter Thirteen; we worked jointly on that for ten months. A second example is the paper, ‘Governments and the Facilitating of Grass Roots Action’ (Appendix 31) (Yeomans, Widders et al. 1993a). That paper was only six pages in length and three of us worked on it for nine weeks.



Neville studied law at the University of NSW to become a barrister registered in NSW and with the High Court. Neville had international humanitarian law as a major interest.


Neville was a key enabler in the development of the Divorce Law Reform Society of NSW. Branches of the Society spread to other states. In the early Seventies Neville prepared a series of submissions for the Divorce Law Reform Society, particularly the desirability of setting up family and individual counselling and family mediating processes. Neville told me (Aug 1998) that his writings along with submissions from other members became a basis for submissions by the Divorce Law Reform Society of NSW to Justices Evatt and Mitchell. These submissions played a substantial part in the formation of the new Family Law legislation.


Neville with John Carlson wrote a monograph that researched the use of mediation in China and other places as part of their law degree at the University of NSW (Carlson and Yeomans 1975). Mediation in the context of what Neville called ‘mediation therapy’ is discussed in Chapters Twelve and Thirteen. From these beginnings, the use of mediation has been growing in Australian society. Neville told me (Dec 1993, Dec 1998) that Australia is currently a World leader in the use of mediation.




Neville edited a regular weekly suburban newspaper column called Keylines. He used this to keep before the Sydney readership, Keyline, Fraser House Way and the various outreaches that he was energizing (Yeomans and Yeomans 1969) – refer photo 41 below.


The columns always had themes consistent with Neville’s interwoven action and included information about his father’s work being applied to creating city forests (Yeomans, P. A. 1971b), mediation and events Neville was organising.




Neville’s quest extended to fostering caring and being humane in every aspect of life including work-life. During 1969 and the early Seventies Neville held a regular small group in Sydney for young businessmen who were ‘on their way up’. Neville and Margaret Cockett both told me (Aug 1999) about setting up a discussion group with business people to explore the inter-cultural conflict they were having in establishing and sustaining trade within SE Asia. In keeping with Clause (b) of the Keyline Trust, a theme running through these discussion groups was how to sustain ‘culturally appropriate multinational regional business cooperation’. Neville explored the application of the ‘Social Problems Record’ developed in Fraser House (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 11) to study personnel in business and other organizations (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 11, p. 277). In keeping with Neville’s way, a key aspect of these regular groups for business people was the evolving of a mutual support network and the exploring of the theme ‘wellness in intercultural business cooperation’.


In the late Eighties when I was consulting in organizational change I was approached by the Federal Government’s Department of Administrative Services about creating paradigm shift as well as cultural change among their senior executive in Canberra. Neville and I wrote on one page what he described as a global-local realplay as a resource for senior executive change. When the Department decided to use American consultants the department was not shown the Hypothetical Realplay. The Realplay is included as Appendix 29. Consistent with Neville’s ‘On Global Reform’ paper (1974) discussed in Chapters One and Thirteen, Neville set the hypothetical realplay in an indefinite future time where there has been a shift in World Order to regional governance, with local governance of local matters.



Photo 12 One of Neville’s columns – Now Newspaper 24 April 1971


Neville had me prepare both ‘The Realplay’ (Appendix 29) and the ‘Rapid Creek Project’ (Appendix 37) potentially for politicians in federal, state and local government, as well as senior executive service people. Neville intentionally structured these documents so they were both strange and novel, in order to act as a filter in determining who we may be able to usefully engage with. In Neville’s view, only those open and curious would engage. Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe in the Keating Government requested his head of the Federal Department of Local Government to see me about the Rapid Creek Project (discussed in Chapter Twelve) as that department was having difficulty in getting inter-sector cooperation. I spoke with the Departmental Head in November 1993 who invited me (and Neville) to link with people in their department and the Northern Territory Government and Local Govenments in that Territory for possible consulting work. At the time Neville and I where very busy and we did not take up this invitation.




In talking about the connexity based energy-in-action in his various outreaches Neville used the term ‘functional matrix’. Neville said (Nov, 1993) that he used this term to refer to the ‘generative and formative developing and shaping of functions and fields or foci of Laceweb action’.


Neville had sustained Fraser House during 1959-1968 as tentative and transitional. He resisted having anything he did being categorised and put into little boxes. Creating all of his functional matrices allowed him to talk and act without being pinned down to definitive specifics, which would in his view, limit and distort.


The list of Laceweb self-help and mutual-help functional matrices in Appendix 30, most of them dating back to the late Sixties and early Seventies, is not exhaustive and there is overlap between categories. Neville spoke of ‘matrix’ being from the Greek word having the meanings listed below:


·         the womb

·         place of nurturing

·         a place where anything is generated or developed

·         the formative part from which a structure is produced

·         intercellular substance

·         a mould

·         type or die in which anything is cast or shaped

·         a multidimensional network


Neville was using the word ‘matrix’ in all of the above senses. The word ‘functional’ was used to convey that both the name of the entity and the social action involved had related functions. Describing organizations as functional matrices was also implying that Neville was not talking about top-down bureaucratic structures. Neville said that he was talking about flat local-lateral networks by reference to what they do rather than what they are. Neville used the terms ‘local-lateral’ and ‘loca-lateral’ in describing networks to denote that rather than being bottom up or top down, local people were laterally networking with other grassroots people. This networking may however have bottom up influences. Like in the festivals, in each of these functional matrices, the reconstituting potency of process was just as important or more important than outcome. This mirrored the processes Neville used in all of his Fraser House outreach.


Neville told me (Dec 1993) that in talking about the Laceweb, people may refer to, for example, the ‘Inma Nelps Lacewebs’. When they used the term ‘Inma Nelps Lacewebs’ no specific organization in the usual sense was being referred to. Rather, it was the function, field or focus of the action. Neville then drafted out for me the names of many of the Laceweb Functional Matrices that he and others had evolved since the late Sixties and what he termed their ‘function, fields and foci’ of action (Appendix 30).


While typically functional matrices were not formally organised, in 1969, Nexus Groups was registered in NSW as a not-for-profit charity engaged in setting up self-help groups for people with psychosocial stress. An abbreviated version of Nexus Groups’ constitution is attached as Appendix 32. The Total Care Foundation was another registered charity evolved by Neville and others.


Nexus Groups changed its name to ‘Connexion’ in the early Seventies and as one of its foci of action became the publishing of the ‘Aboriginal Human Relations’ Magazine (AHR) started by Dr. Ned Iceton in Armidale NSW  (Aboriginal Human Relations Newsletter Working Group 1971b). This Aboriginal Human Relations Magazine reported on community healing action among Aborigines throughout Australia. Another functional matrix called Inma Nexus took over publishing the magazine for a number of months. Rick Johnstone worked with Neville on the Inma Nexus publishing of the magazine. Rick was a key enabler for getting the Maralinga Royal Commission started on the aftermath of nuclear testing on traditional Aboriginal land in South Australia. Involving a number of functional matrices in linked action was typical. I met Rick with Neville in the late 1980s.


Neville spoke (Dec 1993, July 1998) of a person providing a chaplaincy role in Fraser House who formed the self-help group that evolved into the organisation called Grow which is now an international self help group assisting people recover from mental dysfunction (Grow 2005).


Mingles was another of Neville’s functional matrices dating back to the 1960’s. Mingles’ function was making it easier to form friendships. It was one of a number of mutual wellbeing, support and self-help/mutual-help networks/groups that emerged from Fraser House.


During September 1985 till late 1986 Neville, Chris Collingwood, Neville’s son David (and others linked to that first workshop in Balmain during August 1985 where I first met Neville) held regular experiential wellbeing sharing gatherings on the first floor at 245 Broadway in Sydney which I attended. Neville described these gatherings as having the Mingles functional matrix functions foci and fields (Appendix 30), namely:


Celebrating and re-creating

Community wellbeing

Social networking


Enriching families


Many of these gatherings would also move for a time across the road into adjacent parklands where we would engage in all manner of theme based sensory micro-experiences to increase mind-body flexibility and choice – self and group trust and all-round wellbeing.



Photo 13 A photo I took in July 2001 of 245 Broadway in Sydney where the healing sharing gatherings occurred in the late Eighties.


Neville and this same Mingles network energized a monthly event called Healing Sundays in Bondi Junction in Sydney during 1987-88. It was no cost and bring food to share. I participated in all of these. During these gatherings a caring sharing network of over 150 people was evolved over an eighteen-month period. It initially comprised this core group of around twenty people who had a range of healing skills. The day could be on a broad range of wellbeing themes or it could have a theme for the Sunday, for example ‘love’.


It was experiential, that is, simple healing ways that others have found to work were tried out. No prior experience was necessary. Attendees could experience and learn many healing ways. It was also a day for extending social and nurturing networks. Some attendees were open to sharing their healing ways with the gathering. Anyone who wanted to could link in with the enablers for the day and arrange/enable a small segment - sharing with the group some healing ways.


Neville was the key person in evolving and sustaining Healing Sundays. Neville stated emphatically that he did not need to do this to discover process, as he had done it a number of times before. He did it to give the core group of twenty (and other attendees) the experience.

Notice again the use of Cultural Keyline in the Healing Sunday:


1.    The process encouraged every one to engage in attending and sensing and supporting self-organising, emergence, and Keypoints conducive to coherence within social contexts – sharing micro experiences while monitoring theme, mood, values and interaction


2.    Forming cultural locality (people connecting together connecting to place at Neville’s home in Bondi Junction)


3.    Using the emergent micro experiences for strategic design and context-guided theme-based perturbing of the social topography

4.    Fostering everyone’s sensing and attending to the natural social system self-organising in response to the perturbing, and monitoring outcomes


Like creating a village to surround Paddington Community Mental Health Centre, Neville would use Healing Sunday to work with his psychiatric clients in a group context (by inviting one to three to attend). One Healing Sunday attendee had been a patient of Fraser House in the mid 1960’s. Neville would engage in strategic subtle and not so subtle interventions during the Sundays (like unexpectedly telling me to work with a patient of his in the group context when I alone knew she was furious with Neville, and Neville had provoked the fury to prevent her suiciding earlier that morning).




Neville and Ken Yeomans both entered as independent candidates for the NSW electorates of Wentworth and Phillip respectively in the 1969 Federal election (Yeomans and Yeomans 1969). Both were against sitting members and knew they had no chance. Neville, Ken and Ken’s wife Stephanie all said that they were very active campaigners and used this as an opportunity to raise the profile of all of the various themes that were dear to their hearts – use of water, sustainable agriculture, community mental health, pollution, intercultural harmony and the like.


Photo 14 Photos of Neville and Ken Used in Their Election Campaign from Neville’s Archives (Yeomans, N. 1965b)


Photo 15 Advertisement in the Now Newspaper where Neville wrote a regular column (Yeomans, N. 1965b)


As part of their election campaign, Neville and Ken and Stephanie created an extensive set of humorous and creative bumper stickers using a variety of fluorescent colours. These were called Licka Stickas.  Some are shown below.




A casual conversation (July 2002) with a woman giving me a lift to the airport in Hobart, Tasmania after some Laceweb gatherings there revealed that she and many of her friends in Tasmania, especially in Hobart in the late Sixties and early Seventies, closely followed Neville and Fraser House developments. They used these as inspiration to push for all manner of changes in that State’s Community and Family Affairs departments. She said that they had many successes and that they evolved very effective wellbeing networks throughout Tasmania.



Photo 16 Sample of Bumper Stikkers from the collection in Neville’s archives in the Mitchell library (Yeomans, N. 1965b).





Neville’s outreach was consistent with Cultural Keyline and demonstrated how ways evolved in Fraser House, within a government funded professional service delivery model could be interfaced with lay (non professional) self-help/mutual-help networking that in turn could be self organising and self sustaining. This further extends Neville’s biopsychosocial model and provides processes that may be used in extending societal psychosocial resources as well as by the likes of the Victoria Workcover Clinical Frame work. Neville’s outreach has demonstrated ways in which new cultural syntheses may be fostered, and ways collapsed societies may be reconstituted (in contrast to power-over pathologising (Pupavac 2005)). This is discussed further in Chapter 13.




This chapter has documented Neville’s outreach from Fraser House and detailed the links between Fraser House process and Fraser House outreach. In all of the various outreaches from Fraser House, Neville blended seemingly disparate things into his action research. He linked Asia networking, people in charitable action, various self-help groups, a community mental health clinic, a church, a bazaar, festivals, and various cultural activities. In every context Neville was using all forms of artistry toward fostering community wellbeing. This was a process Neville was exploring for extending societal psychosocial resources as well as ways for re-appropriating society and peoples’ lives from the State. This interlinked, inter-connected, inter-dependant, wellbeing-theme and value-based action research is totally consistent with Cultural Keyline and Neville’s evolving model for the Laceweb towards epochal transition. The next chapter explores Neville’s move North in evolving the Laceweb