Here is a link to my article on Othello and family violence published in The Conversation. I am presenting a paper at this week’s National Mediation Conference on a similar theme – Mediating King Lear:  Taking the Tragedy out of Shakespeare’s Greatest Tragedy. The bi-annual National Mediation Conference is the largest convention of mediators in Australia.  There are always great presentations of interest to lawyers and other negotiation professionals – as well as for mediators.


Here is an article by me from last Friday’s Sydney Morning Herald on the impact of Australia’s increasingly international population and possible child abductions – The article explains that six of the ten most common countries of origin of immigrants to Australia are not signatories to the Hague Convention on the International Abduction of Children.


On Monday 7 March I am appearing on a Law Society expert panel discussion of ethical, moral, legal and practical considerations arising in negotiations and dispute resolution practice. Other panel members include a Federal Court Judge, Barristers and Solicitors. Steve Lancken will facilitate a discussion of a hypothetical mediation from the entertainment industry involving moral, legal and behavioural dilemmas. Places in the audience are still available.  Here is a link to the Law Society website with further detail and online registration -


Collaborative Family Law Training Course

I am co-presenting a two day interdisciplinary collaborative family law course at Relationships Australia, Macquarie Park on Friday 4 March and Saturday 5 March 2016. The other presenters are: David Roberts who is a collaborative practice coach and established the first Relationships Australia collaborative practice group. Jackie Jones who is a collaborative lawyer and also teaches at UTS (where I also teach dispute resolution advocacy to law undergraduates). Bill Hewlett  who is a coach and child specialist from Relationships Australia. The course provides an introduction to interdisciplinary collaborative practice, and is designed for: Lawyers with no collaborative training, or those wanting to learn about multi-disciplinary teams. Financial professionals interested in becoming neutral financial experts in collaborative family law matters. Mental health professionals wanting to become coaches or child consultants in the collaborative process. If you are interested in attending, I attach a flyer for the course. Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice Training 2016


The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has issued ninety-nine recommendations that are significant to survivors of abuse, responsible institutions, and lawyers advising both groups. Click here for my article in the NSW Law Society Journal explaining the recommendations.  My article draws on my experience of working with institutional abuse as a facilitator of restorative engagement conferences for the Defence Assault Response Taskforce. The Royal Commission’s recommendations include: Personal meetings to allow child sexual abuse survivors a direct personal response from representatives of responsible institutions. These are similar to the conferences I facilitate between senior defence personnel and members of the military who have been abused during their service.  Such meetings need to be carefully structured to avoid them perpetuating the original abuse. Counselling and psychological care. Monetary payments. The removal of limitations for civil claims and the imposition of a non-delegable duty on institutions for child abuse occurring within their care. On ...


LEADR-IAMA is one of the largest mediation organisations in Australasia with over 4000 members.  It holds a biannual Kongress which covers topics relevant not only to mediators, but also to lawyers and all professionals interested in negotiation and conflict resolution. In my presentation to this year's Kongress in Sydney, I shall explain how electronic communications such as email and text create misunderstandings and conflict.  I shall recommend ways in which professionals can assist others (and themselves) to avoid the traps of electronic communications that commonly arise in negotiations and dispute resolution. For a link to a short audio preview of my presentation (to be given on Monday 7 September 2015) as well as links to register - click here. I also spoke at the last Kongress in 2013 on lawyers at mediation.  For a link to my earlier paper click here.


I thought you might find this video interesting -  It features English teenagers talking about the separation of their parents.  As a family mediator and lawyer, the video made me reflect on: Even though the interviews occur around 6 years after separation, some of the teenagers are still hoping their parents might get back together. The teenagers spend a lot of time and energy thinking and worrying about their parents and their separation. The parents gave little and conflicting information to their children about the separation - perhaps explaining the above two points. The separations could have been made easier for the children (and probably the parents) by greater communication between the parents and clearer explanations about what is to happen being given to the children.  Mediation is a great way for parents to decide how to do this. I have been referring my mediation and legal clients to the video. You ...


The Short and Long of Family Mediation

In a recent pre-mediation meeting, a separating client told me of his fear of becoming a "lonely old man" when his children grew up.  This was in contrast to many clients who just focus on their immediate concerns for themselves and their children, and ignore longer term consequences.  Here is an important study of the beneficial long-term impact of even small amounts of family mediation on the relationships between separating parents and their children.  The study examined high conflict families who were already involved in contested parenting disputes in court.  One half of the sample group were randomly assigned to mediation whilst the other half remained in the litigation process.  The mediation was only brief (5 hours on average) and was primarily focused on working out the routine of a parenting plan, but was also sensitive to the parents' emotions including their grief about the separation.  The study then followed the families for 12 years and looked at both short and long term outcomes. I have given the study ...


Evaluating the Family Law Settlement Service

I am one of the mediators appointed to the Family Law Settlement Service operated by the Family Law Courts. A detailed Evaluation Report of the Service has been prepared by Marilyn Scott of the University of Technology Sydney.  The Report examines the initial 148 cases referred to the Service for mediation in 2012.  Here is a link to the report. Some interesting features of the Report are: 58.4% of matters referred to the Service for mediation settled or did not proceed to hearing.  The report estimates this saved around 132 days of court hearing time – and avoided significant costs for the parties and the Courts. 73% of the parties reported that the mediators were even-handed, listened to both sides of the story and were “carefully in charge of the process.”  Similarly, 73% of parties reported that their lawyer supported them in the process.  This is consistent with my experience as a ...


LEADR Presentation – Lawyers at Mediation

Paper given to LEADR Conference 10 September 2013   UNDERSTANDING AND WORKING WITH LAWYERS: How lawyers attempt to influence and persuade at mediation Recommendations for mediators for engaging and working effectively with lawyers As a lawyer, I have attended with clients at countless mediations, and been intrigued at how little I - and my client - have been influenced or persuaded by the other lawyer.  As a mediator, I have had the privilege of hearing each side’s perspectives and observed lawyers interacting with each other, with their own client and with the other party.  Again, I have been intrigued by the lack of persuasive effect lawyers can have on each other and the parties.  This paper therefore looks at: What lawyers do at mediation. How this impacts on the decision making of parties. How influential and persuasive is “what lawyers do” at mediation. Recommendations for mediators for engaging and working effectively with lawyers. The focus ...