Council members


George Warren (President)

George is married to Lesley and they have two sons and a daughter (all married). They also have eight grandchildren. He recently retired after forty years of pastoral ministry in Churches of Christ. He now has more time to pursue spiritual direction, having completed formation at WellSpring in 2003. In 2012 he completed the Master of Arts (Spiritual Direction) through Sentir, studying the many facets of discernment. George also has voluntary roles with WellSpring.


Liz Anne Smith (Secretary)

Liz Anne is currently Co-director of Soul Journey Companions: a transformative journey in spiritual direction training in Canberra.  Formerly Liz Anne was Coordinator of the Pastoral Ministry specialisation in the MA Theology at Australian Catholic University, Canberra Campus, where she was also Campus Minister and spiritual director for over 17 years. Liz Anne did her spiritual direction formation at the Institute of Spiritual Leadership in Chicago and her Masters in Pastoral Studies at Loyola University. As well as spiritual director and supervisor, Liz Anne is a civil celebrant in the ACT region celebrating funerals and other important life celebrations. She also offers retreats and labyrinth reflection workshops. Contact Liz Anne at


Irene Alexander

Irene is part of the Stillpoint Spiritual Direction Formation Team in Brisbane. She is also a lecturer in counselling and psychology at Christian Heritage College and the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane, and at the Asian Theological Seminary in the Philippines.

She is the author of several books including Dancing with God: Transformation through Relationship and Practicing the Presence of Jesus: Contemporary Meditation. She is part of Northumbria Community, Brisbane, is the mother of two sons, and has a grandson and a granddaughter.


John Auer

John trained in spiritual direction at the Ignatian Spirituality Centre in London and at St Bede’s Pastoral Centre in York (UK) after more than 30 years in manufacturing management and consulting. John is a practicing spiritual director who presents, facilitates and supervises interns participating in the GDSD programme at Dayspring, Dianella (WA). John has been actively involved for more than twenty years in the Christian Meditation Community in the U.K. and Australia. He offers retreats and days of reflection as part of his commitment to the Christian Meditation Community, as well as the Benedictine Monastery’s Spirituality Programme at New Norcia. He teaches at the Maranatha Centre for Adult Faith Formation in Perth offering material on contemporary issues of faith and spirituality.


Judy Backstrom

Judy has a long experience in education within the Catholic tradition, and in later years, creating and facilitating programmes for those living with anxiety/panic disorders. She still conducts a private practice for individuals in that area. Judy has conducted retreats, reflection and prayer days, and is an active member of a Christian Life Community group. Graduating as a spiritual director in 1999, Judy has been associated with the Loyola Centre of Ignatian Spirituality (SA). Her training and practice is with people of all faith traditions, and she is particularly practised in working creatively (imagery, artwork) with people.


Dianne Bradley

Dianne is married to Graeme. They enjoy their family of two grown-up children, their partners, three grandchildren, and great granddaughter sharing their home with Isabella their standard poodle and laying hens whose numbers vary from time to time. She loves being in the garden whenever she is able, both working and in quiet, open to wonder.

Dianne has been engaged in the ministry of spiritual direction and retreats since the 1993 SPIDIR Ecumenical Program for Spiritual Directors South Australia. She has an MA (Theology) in Spirituality and Pastoral Ministry from the Australian Catholic University, is a longstanding member of the Ecumenical Spiritual Directors Association of South Australia and the Australian Network for Spiritual Direction. She has been a member of the Council since 2013. In 2009 Dianne co-founded the St Oswald’s Centre for Spirituality. She continues as its director along with a small team offering spiritual direction, weekly quiet times, retreats, quiet days and workshops. Dianne has attended various training workshops in supervision, has offered supervision in the SPIDIR formation program and is currently engaged as a supervisor in Tabor’s Graduate Diploma in Spiritual Direction.


Sally Longley

Sally is married with two adult children. Australian born, Sally began as a university lecturer at Rhodes University in South Africa before moving to London to study theology. Sally returned to South Africa where she was involved in forms of ministry for 10 years. After returning to Australia, Sally lectured at the Australian Catholic University, was a part-time research assistant for the Minister for Minerals and Energy, and was a speaker Christian conferences. In 2005-2006 Sally spent a year at the Mennonite Seminary in USA with husband Jim, and completed the formation program for spiritual directors. Back in Australia she completed the Residential Program for Spiritual Directors. She is currently a member of the team for RPSD, a spiritual director and retreat leader at the Canisius Centre for Ignatian Spirituality in Sydney.


Maria McCormack

After completing the Spiritual Leaders’ Course at Heart of Life in 1992 Maria received Spiritual Direction at WellSpring. Her love for the ministry led her to the Formation Course at WellSpring and she graduated as a Spiritual Director in 2001.

Maria was engaged in retreat ministry for 23 years at the Passionist Centre for Spirituality. Over many years Maria has led retreats and workshops for a wide range of religious and non religious groups. For 10 years Maria was a Custodian of The Grove, Wholistic Centre for Women’s Spirituality. For three of these years she was Coordinator of The Grove.

For several years Maria has been a member of the Formation Team for The Art of Spiritual Direction Course at WellSpring. Maria is married to Peter and they have three daughters and one son, and two adorable grandchildren.


Carey McIver

Carey is married to Judy and they have seven children, six of whom are independent adults. They currently have six grand children. He has an extensive career in school and system leadership in state and catholic education in Tasmania and is a Fellow of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL). He is currently self-employed as an Executive Coach and facilitator and creatively works with school leaders and leadership teams in education sectors across Australia to transform good intentions into great results.

He has completed studies in the Diploma of Pastoral Ministry (Archdiocese of Hobart Pastoral Planning and Formation Centre) and is an Accredited Spiritual Director (Emmanuel Pastoral and Spirituality Centre)

He is active in lay leadership in the Archdiocese of Hobart, serving as Regional Coordinator for CSD for the past three years and currently as chair of his Parish Pastoral Council.


Mary Murphy

Mary has worked in Catholic Education for many years both at primary and secondary levels and in three different diocesan offices across the nation. She has qualifications in Education at Masters level, Clinical Pastoral Education at Basic and Advanced levels, Bachelor of Theology as well as a Master of Arts in Spiritual Direction. Mary has served on the national committee of Companions in the Ministry of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. She offers spiritual direction, retreat, reflection days and directs Retreats in Daily Life and The First Spiritual Exercises to individuals and groups. Mary is married to Dan Murphy and they have a little dog called Mick.


Liz Palmer

Liz is married with two daughters and two grandsons. She has spent most of her working life in administration after completing a degree in Maths and Computing. For most of her married life her husband has been a priest in the Anglican Church so she has been heavily involved in walking with people in their Christian pilgrimage during those years.

As a member of the first cohort, Liz graduated from the Residential Program in Spiritual Direction in 2004, is now a member of the formation team of that program and has been involved in the ministry of spiritual direction and retreat leading since then. Liz is also the treasurer of the ANSD and is the representative of ANSD on this council.



Margaret Trevethan

Margaret has been a spiritual director since 1992 and trained through the House of Prayer and Spirituality in Townsville, North Queensland.   She has a teaching and ministry background, a Grad Dip Arts/Leadership (ACU), Master of Theology (UoN) and Master of Conflict Management and Resolution (JCU). Margaret has worked as a Pastoral Associate, Campus Minister and Formator and is currently Prayer and Spirituality Coordinator of the House of Prayer and Spirituality. Marg works ecumenically and in the workplace.   She is involved in retreat work, formation, facilitation, ministry and group supervision, and staff development.   She is married with two daughters and two grandsons.