the revolution

Compassion is our central fulcrum. Archimedes knew that with a fulcrum, you can move the world.


A world where compassionate humans thrive at work and home.


To build a world where we are supported and encouraged to notice the distress in ourselves and others and act to alleviate that distress, with the support from those around us.


To create beautiful interventions and safe spaces, that builds compassion within organisations, and for people at work and in the places they inhabit.


Profound respect for people

We acknowledge First Nations people’s sovereign rights and we keep a steady focus on the ways we must further the project of decolonisation.

We honour and respect the many ways of knowing, intuiting, dreaming and designing.

We celebrate the richness of diversity.

We recognise the crucial importance of safety.

We understand intersectionality and are committed to designing our offerings in ways that support those who experience complex systems of oppression.

We see the capacity for transformation in all.

We are willing to be vulnerable and brave and we support others to speak up.

Power of listening

We want people to have all of their words. 

We listen for the distress in others and are committed to the alleviation of our collective suffering.

We practice mindfulness and we keep learning how to be compassionate towards ourselves.


We care for our community and our community generously cares for us.

We foster an awareness of our interdependence and interconnectedness with each other, other species and our fragile ecosystem, as well as the planet.

Generosity, reciprocity and abundance

We create spacious boundaries so we can show up big and give our time and our love when we can.

We love gifting and creating extra symbols of support.

We exchange our assets in support of other organisations and people.

We share what we learn and connect people to each other.


An arts based practice gives us great momentum for transformation and helps us see the unseen.

Creativity is embedded in our practice.

We say yes to imagination, playfulness and creative approaches.


We create all of our work with a determination for beauty.

We ask beautiful questions that rarely have simple answers.

We holdfast to the idea that beauty brings relief and is a gateway to love.

Our story in brief

A social movement that’s finding another way.

Compassion Revolution started in 2016, as an idea hatched on a long plane ride home. As a recipient of a Westpac Foundation Social Change Fellowship, Mary Freer—Founder and Director spent eight weeks traveling throughout Europe and the United States, and through her deep international inquiry she saw something was about to take seed.

The aim of this work was to cultivate a living awareness of compassion as a more systematic and whole-hearted way of living and working. Compassion Revolution was designed to embroider compassion, kindness and respect into the fabric of high quality service delivery.

We bring compassion and impact together.

We work with partners who prioritise human and planetary flourishing and we build cultures that are caring, safe and inclusive of everyone.

Move at the speed of trust. Focus on critical connections rather than critical mass.

adrienne maree brown


What’s a revolution without a manifesto?

Here is a printable poster that states a series of our intentions, motivations, the roles we wish to serve and how we relate with the world. Its yours to download.

The Book

Compassion Revolution
Start Now*
Use What You Have*
Keep Going*

A new, research-backed take on the power of compassion. Not fluffy. Not nice-to-have. Not kindness, even. No. This is compassion as a revolutionary act. A swath through bullying, blaming and exclusionary workplaces. A full stop to the many destructive practices that drive down the quality of work performance and wear away our mental wellbeing. This book exists so new ways can be paved.

SUMA: The four steps to Compassion

We know that compassion makes moral and economic sense but how do we practise it and maintain our joy and care for ourselves?

In Chapter Two of Mary’s book mentioned just above, you will discover a simple four-step process called SUMA to help you understand how compassion works. With practice, these steps will become your default response in times of happiness and distress.

Where we live

We live and work on the Adelaide Plains, the traditional lands of the Kaurna people and pay respects to elders past, present and emerging.

Always was, always will be.

People would be forgiven if they thought Compassion Revolution was based in Naarm (Melbourne), but our heartland is in Adelaide, South Australia. We deliver our work all over Australia and New Zealand. It is our goal however to more deeply build connection with our place here in South Australia.

We acknowledge the generosity of nature and the role it plays in our wellbeing. The environment is a part of us, and caring for it, is caring for ourselves. We see that we need a stronger connection with the land as climate change will greatly impact our health.

During the conference in 2023, we invited people to ‘cloak’ their heavy things with the promise of composting of the notes left behind. As soon as the compost has broken down we’re planting a Myrtle wattle (Acacia myrtifolia) (look at all those little pops of optimism!) to demonstrate where our roots are, and where our community is a part of what we grow.

A small catalogue of daily gratitudes

I can’t thank you enough. I felt more affirmed that I am on the right path than I have felt in years. I felt as though I belonged and that I wasn’t the only one ‘going on’ about the issue of compassion in healthcare.

Dr Nadia Chaves
Physician in General Medicine
Alfred Health

Mary Freer is a marvel: the way she brings people together to imagine new futures for healthcare is filled with energy, curiosity and joy. Mary leads from a deep understanding of healthcare as a human system. As a consumer and as a researcher I value Mary’s commitment to good evidence, and to achieving change that puts people first.

Assoc Prof Kate Bowles
University of Wollongong

Mary is a visionary, transformative and inclusive leader who inspires and amplifies the leadership and learning of others through her work, events, and training. In a time of Covid-19 pandemic Mary was able to rapidly respond and cultivate a community of practice that facilitated deep learning and shifts in resources, mindsets and priorities to provide support and attention where it was most needed.

Jane Sloane
Senior Director, Women’s Empowerment Program
The Asia Foundation

Mary Freer is the real deal. She transformed the way I conceptualise compassion: a muscular structure of strength best tended to with attention and delight. Anything Mary leads is a “YES PLEASE!” fri me.

Shannon Weber
Author of Show Up Hard: A Roadmap for Helpers in Crisis

Mary has been our fairy godmother, sprinkling compassion over everything she does. Whether it is conducting one-on-one interviews with Hollywood stars, facilitating small group workshops, or hosting large events she makes sure the audience knows that it is never about her, but about us, and how we can all be more compassionate

Dr Andrew Tagg
Emergency Medicine Consultant

Mary is a force of nature. Her drive, passion and vision for a more compassionate world is both inspiring and practically informative. I deeply value my work with Mary, and I’m energised and learn from her every time we talk.

Micaela Cronin
Director, Future Social Service Institute


Previous conferences



We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass.’ It’s always about critical connections.

Mycelium is the vast and intelligent underground network of the mushroom. This super network connects all living plants to one another, carrying nutrients and information from one tree to the next. Compassion across communities works in much the same way.

There’s no going back to the pre-pandemic days of 2019. Across the world writers, thinkers and artists are naming this place we are in as a great turning point; a place of no return; a transition. Our health systems have been revealed as moribund. Our workforce are tired and overwhelmed. Ambulances ramp and patients queue. Now is no time for nostalgia.


2022 conference speakers



With COVID-19 still raging, Compassion Revolution stepped in and delivered an inspiring Conference that ran over three nights and two days, connecting people all over the world.

Opening night was a hybrid session where South Australia presented in person and many others joined us online. Mary Freer had a conversation with Seth Godin, the theme being ‘Can Capitalism Flourish Alongside Compassion?’, followed by a panel discussion. 

The next two days were executed on our digital community platform, with rigorous conversations designed to create cultures of care that are high quality, continually improving, and compassionate. We set an intention that these discussions motivate our community to take action. 

Mary also launched her book, Compassion Revolution: Start Now. Use What You Have. Keep Going.

2021 conference speakers

This years hybrid conference enjoyed these outstanding humans who, in all their rich variety of disciplines, brought their perspective of compassion and how to lead, and be led by it.



Because of COVID-19, more than ever, health and aged care workers were being stretched in ways never imagined.

Compassion Revolution Conference responded by building a digital community platform, having created a warm safe meeting space for connection, support and conversation. 

During November, Compassion Revolution curated a month of key speakers and engaged audiences as many as 860 people in conversations of moral imagination and social courage.

We also introduced a Book Club where five books were chosen. These books were themed in resilience, care, inclusion and diversity — and participants had group conversations with the authors, where robust conversations teased out some of the complexities of care work.

2020 conference speakers

This years online conference enjoyed these outstanding humans who, in all their rich variety of disciplines, brought their perspective of compassion and how to lead, and be led by it.



The Compassion Revolution called for people who care and invited compassionate leaders to bring their wisdom and inspiration to the work of health, aged care and social good.

This was the conference’s inaugural year held on (local indigenous country), at the Melbourne Arts Centre to an audience of 350 people. 

Over the two days CR brought together internationally recognised leaders, clinicians and change makers, all focussed on improving our systems of care.

Our first conference was a sell-out and the feedback insisted we keep going.


2019 conference speakers

In our first year, Compassion Revolution Conference brought together speakers from the world, who, in all their rich variety of disciplines, brought their perspective of compassion and how to lead, and be led by it.

All things Compassion Revolution is activated by Freerthinking

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