Solutions on the high seas

Posted: 01/05/2024

‘I’m Dion, I live on a boat.’

That’s a pretty cool introduction for anyone, and not what I expected from a man who has spent the past decade and a half working in human services and, more recently, perfecting the “art” of solution-focused supervision.

But it does speak to his sense of adventure, both in life and his years of working with people across a broad range of service areas including Resi Care, Intensive Case Management, Foster Care and Family Services.

Dion Sing’s pathway into human services was unconventional, yet somehow serendipitous.

‘Up until my early twenties I’d done labouring work, but I was wanting to do something that invested in people, rather than building houses,’ he explains. ‘I had experience working with addicts and youth, but no formal qualifications.’

Dion heard about a job as a Residential Care worker at St Lukes’ Anglicare—at a time when there were no minimum qualifications. He soon found himself immersed in the complex world of Resi Care.

‘I laugh now at how green I was,’ he reflects. ‘When my new boss told me we would have “supervision” I thought he might observe me working with the young people for an hour a fortnight. I had no clue what supervision was.’

While terms like ‘strengths-based’ and ‘solution focused’ weren’t part of his vocabulary back then, Dion remembers reading about them in the key selection criteria for the job and thinking: “that makes sense—to solve problems based on strengths and solutions”.

‘Little did I know, these ideas would still have me thinking and experimenting over a decade and a half later,’ he says.

Dion embraced the strengths approach to working with people and thrived under the St Lukes’ Anglicare ethos of “the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem”.

‘I was privileged to be taught, supervised and mentored by some of the amazing thinkers we have to thank for the strengths approach,’ Dion says. ‘We regularly used Innovative Resources card sets for team building, debriefing and talking about hopes and pictures of the future.

‘Once you start thinking in a solution-focused way it applies to almost everything you do. It guides how I face challenges, parent my children, and do business. Not to say that all of that is perfect, but solution-focus provides a framework. It changes how you “see” people.’

As Dion moved into leadership roles, he began to see solution-focused supervision differently—beyond thinking it was merely a good way of working with people. He began to see the “flow-on”—from the people he was supervising to the children and families they were working with.

‘I decided I wanted to get really good at supervising,’ he says. ‘I started researching, learning and consuming information that would help me achieve this.’

It was around this time Dion gave a presentation to the Australasian Solution Focused Association and soon realised that the hand-out he’d prepared for his presentation was the very rough draft of what is today The Solution-Focused Supervision Handbook.

‘The book is a decade of research, experimentation and practice, condensed into an easy-to-read handbook for busy supervisors,’ Dion says. ‘I wanted to write something that makes the ideas accessible, useful and builds the confidence of supervisors, regardless of their understanding of solution-focus or supervision.’

Innovative Resources card sets are still close to Dion’s heart and continue to feature in his work. Funky Fish Feelings, Stones…have feelings too! and Cars ‘R’ Us are among his favourites as their simplicity allows people to ascribe their own meaning to the images.

‘I love the non-prescriptive nature of the cards,’ he says. ‘They are particularly useful in learning and talking about feelings with people of all ages who are not used to putting language to their feelings.’

These days, Dion’s supervision, consulting, training and writing happens from his boat, a sailing catamaran, where he lives with his wife, a five-year-old, a three-year-old, and their pet poodle.

Just like the Innovative Resources card set, Ups and Downs, life on the billowing ocean has its challenges.

‘Sometimes it’s blue water and sunsets, other times things are breaking,’ Dion says. ‘It’s been a steep and amazing learning curve for all of us.

‘Sometimes I get to knock off and swim on the reef, other times I’m bracing myself in the hull on a video call. All in all, it balances out—we’re still sailing!’


Discover more about The Solution-Focused Supervision Handbook at

Use the promo code SOON for a 20% discount in the month of May.


by John Holton

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