What We Do


Engoori is a three-phase strength-based approach which acknowledges that when dealing with Complex Challenges, having conversations with structure, purpose and process, is often the most powerful action one can take. The Engoori story belongs to ‘Tjimpa’ of the Mithaka people of South West Queensland and historically was used as a method of diplomacy between conflicting ideologies and groups. Traditionally, Engoori was used as a set of diplomatic protocols to create and maintain robust challenging cultures that embrace diversity to enable forward movement with the big issues.

With influence from work in complexity approaches (Ralph Stacey), organisational leadership and culture (Edgar Schein), and the philosophy of Eckhart Tolle, Engoori can be used in any approach to complex challenges. Engoori focusses on the culture of an organisation (how its people relate to one another), as the foundation from which to develop successful approaches to complex issues. If the culture of an organisation is strong and healthy, its ability to address complexity is greatly improved.

Complex Challenges

At Murrimatters, we define complex issues or challenges as ones that keep coming back time after time. Many attempts may have been made to solve them, but little overall ground has been gained. Frequently, models developed in one setting that may be establishing some traction are not transferable to another even though the complex issue being faced appears similar.

The complex challenges faced by the organisations we work with are predominantly social issues.  The tenacity of complex challenges and their ability to shift and change in response to attempts to ‘fix’ them has led some people to term them ‘wicked problems’.  Often they receive considerable media attention and have a long policy history.   We would consider issues such as Domestic Violence, Substance Abuse, Unemployment, Truancy and Nonattendance, Indigenous Education, Racism, and Gender Inequity to all be examples of complex challenges.  

An organisation can also face complex internal challenges. These include employee conflict, change (whether in corporate direction, corporate ownership, departmental shift, or closure and renewal) and a dysfunctional organisational culture.

As a first stage to developing a response, in thinking about the type of challenge faced by an organisation it is often useful to identify whether it is a simple, complicated, complex or chaotic issue as each category benefits from a different approach.

As can be seen from the diagram above, simple and complicated challenges can be dealt with using classic problem solving techniques but complex challenges are unlikely to respond to these. Dynamic and multifaceted, complex challenges are characterised by high levels of time and resourcing and high levels of disagreement and uncertainty. They require responsive social processes which are constantly assessed, fine-tuned, created and adapted by a robust organisational culture.

Using Engoori as its central process, Murrimatters assists your organisation to develop a robust culture, a deeper understanding of the complex issue being faced, and the responsive practices and tools required to address the challenge

Deficit Discourse


Realising that deficit discourse about Aboriginal people was active in schools, Scott Gorringe and David Spillman were determined to change the way in which school communities perceive, talk, and think about teaching and learning in the context of Indigenous Education. Scott was then heavily involved in a ground-breaking research group on deficit discourse with researchers at The Australian National University, the University of Canberra, Deakin University, and AIATSIS.

Background Information

Often approaches in these spaces are constructed in a way that unconsciously perpetuates the worldview of colonialism and historical approaches to Indigenous development, thus embedding further the notion of ‘fixing up’ the Aborigine. We employ the term ‘deficit discourse’ to encompass constraining assumptions about Indigenous Australians. Deficit discourse has been the subject of high-level research that has demonstrated its presence and impact, for example in Indigenous education and health (e.g. Gorringe et al 2011, Fforde et al 2013, Fogarty et al 2018). ‘Deficit discourse’, as it is known in the scholarly literature, is a mode of thinking that frames and represents Aboriginal identity in a narrative of negativity, deficiency, and failure (Fforde et al. 2013). Discourse (deficit) is at the heart of cross-cultural relationship. As Kerrins (2012) describes it: 

Discourse has been described as a system of thoughts, composed of ideas, attitudes, course of actions, beliefs and practices that shape reality by systematically constructing the subjects and the worlds of which they speak. Discourse plays a role in wider social processes of legitimisation and power; emphasizing the constitution of current truths, how they are maintained and what power relations they carry with them.

Important to understand is that Deficit Discourse does not discriminate, both Aboriginal and people who are not, can play in it – and this leads into the next point. The ensuing notion and rhetoric of ‘fixing up’ the Aborigine positions mainstream Australia as the yardstick for success, and, thus, what Aboriginal people must measure up to. There is no ‘space’ to reveal the challenge of this underlying assumption and policy rubric. As a result people end up continuing to implement strategies and policies which, in essence, either do ‘to’ or ‘for’ the Indigenous population. Both are disempowering approaches and contribute very little to self-determining actions. 

Even if your organisation is aware of these dynamics, this information is nonetheless important to consider when resetting strategic organisational directions, and in particular your organisational culture. If we are to make a move toward doing ‘with’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, we must consider a new approach to engaging all staff in a different way of framing Aboriginality and then reset our relationships accordingly. 

Knowledge of what to do and what not to do does not necessarily equate to behaviour change, instead, cultural transformation (within an organisation) occurs when people transfer their knowledge into actions. This moment of transformation is complicated, and it requires structure, discipline, self-reflection, and courage. MurriMatters believe that all of our collaborators seek an organisational cultural change that is authentic, respectful, robust, and inclusive. This change is enabled through the processes we offer. 

We view complex challenges as those which often shift and change and defy simple one-off solutions. The management of people and organisations, particularly in cross-cultural contexts in conjunction with environments constrained by political, financial, and temporal criteria, often present complex challenges. A key requirement in working with complexity is the creation of robust organisational culture and our processes work to enhance this. 

Learning Framework


Module One:
Introductory session

Single session
(60 mins)

  • Through our weekly meeting and stakeholder engagement we could discuss the teaching resources including Welcome/Acknowledgement to Country – Invite local Traditional Owner to offer a welcome to country or invite anyone to offer an acknowledgement to country. Facilitated discussion following.
  • Check In – This is an invitation to pause and reflect on your personal thoughts and feelings on, why are you engaging in this program.
  • Setting the Circle – Choose a number of ways to introduce people to a safe learning space. Either with provocative quotes, pictures, story, song, or poetry. This session is focused clearly on creating a safe and robust space to discuss.
  • Understanding difference – Being different and thinking different does not equate to being wrong. Understanding that everyone has become socialised and culturised to think, feel and behave based on where we have come from – our upbringing and experiences (good or bad)


Module Two:
Engoori Cycle 1 – Critical Histories and Perceptual Positioning

Single or Double session (60 mins/ 2 hours)

  • Demonstrate a deep collective capacity (language and confidence), accountability and ritual to acknowledge place in reference to Aboriginal Sovereignty
  • Demonstrate that ongoing collective critical reflective practice is integral across the team / organisation.
  • Demonstrate that P1, P2, P3 (deep listening) is an integral practice across the team / organisation.
  • Circle practice is used as an integral Practice for the team / organisation.


Module Three:
Engoori Cycle 2

Single or Double session (60 mins/ 2 hours)

  • Testing assumptions: how our focus, task or role, or our current understanding and assumptions, can limit our own perceptions;
  • How we can individually and collectively miss important understandings or solutions to our challenges;
  • Culture: How the assumptions and norms of collectives can also become ingrained in our team or workplace culture;
  • We can ‘be the change we want to see’ by consciously seeking new and multiple perspectives, being open to new possibilities and co-creating how we are together.


Module Four:
Engoori Cycle 3 – Cultural Action Plan

Single / Double / Triple session (60 mins / 2 hours / 3 hours)

  • Participants individually and collectively experience Engoori processes to recognise and focus on their own and other’s individual strengths, and what keeps them strong in their professional practice (honouring our pasts);
  • Participants share and recognise collective strengths (skills and knowledge), which lay a foundation for strength-based interpersonal relationships within the group; and
  • The team and organisation can draw on strengths-based practice through Engoori processes, to address complex problems more effectively and efficiently.


Module Five:
Deficit Discourse

Single / Double / Triple session (60 mins / 2 hours / 3 hours)

  • Develop a greater understanding of the origins of deficit discourse and the strategies required to improve the quality of relationships with First Nations peoples Present an understanding of complexity and ways to move within this space. (Stacey 2004, Spillman & Gorringe 2007)
  • Understanding the best approach to supportive actions with First Nation people’s.
  • Understanding an approach to complex challenges.


Module Six:

Single or Double session (60 mins/ 2 hours)

  • Most of the groups and organisations we work with are working in and with complexity.
  • Most of these groups are also applying strategies and approaches that are successful for simple or complicated challenges
  • Depending which space we are in we have to apply different skills.
  • We often do not know what space we are in and we interpret to our personal preference to action. Bureaucracy sees all problems are a failure of process, if you are an expert any problem is a failure to give you enough funding and resource to do analysis and if you are a politician
  • Therefore if it complex we need to probe.


Module Seven:

Single or Double session (60 mins/ 2 hours)

Single session
(60 mins)

  • We close the day by Checking Out by answering questions such as those below
  • How are you feeling now?
  • What has made you think the most today?
  • How might you use some of this in your workplace?
  • What is resonating with you from today’s session? What opportunities can you see emerging from sharing this conversation?

Coaching and Mentoring philosophy and process

Our philosophy is strength-based, flexible and bespoke. We ask simple yet open questions and allow the responses from the mentee to help shape the next stages of the conversation.  Building relational trust is our number one priority supported by our faultless professionalism and ability to work confidentially. In terms of process we most often implement the following processes by providing individual one-on-one and/or group online coaching and/or mentoring opportunities:

  • Our sessions focus on linking organisational and individual context with the professional and personal goals of the individual and/or team.
  • We focus on “ Leadership in Action “ or connecting the personal/professional development pathway with a real-life tangible/ project which includes the implementation of key Engoori Practices that support self-awareness and the transformation of individual and organisational relationships
  • Structured regular individual ‘check in’ sessions online with Murrimatters. These will be confidential and focused on both professional development and pastoral care if required. These sessions will provide an opportunity to share, challenge and plan
  • Structured group ‘check in’ sessions online with Murrimatters focused on setting up a cycle of continuous improvement

Standard Recommendations


Provide one-on-one and/or group online coaching and/or mentoring opportunities.

$350.00 per session.

We suggest 3-5 individual sessions. Final cost is dependent on the number of participants.


Provide one-on-one/group online coaching opportunities. Continue to build on Engoori® methodology for Leadership Teams to build relationships and explore governance functions within a positive organisational culture.

$350.00 per session.

We suggest 3-5 individual sessions. Final cost is dependent on the number of participants.