Sessional Trainer with PHD or Research Skills Wanted

Sessional Trainer with PHD or Research Skills Wanted

Mediation Institute has been asked by a potential student to provide the unit BSBRES801 Initiate and lead applied research, which is listed in the current Grad Dip FDR.

The student is keen to complete a rigorous research unit at Grad Dip level so she could qualify to do a Masters by Research or PHD program at a university. Our existing Grad Dip FDR has been accepted by Charles Sturt University and other universities as granting a credit for one third of one of their masters courses ( One student actually got a 50% credit but Ken is a very persuasive mediator). 

If you are looking to move more towards academia then you will need to do a “Introduction to Research” unit  as part of your postgraduate studies before commencing a Research unit.  Typically these are done as part of an honours year or in other postgraduate studies in University. 

We are looking for the holder of a PHD – or someone who is experienced in research methodology – Ideally with a knowledge of ADR or FDR and training qualifications – to act as trainer and supervisor on a sessional basis. 
This unit is not one to take if you want to accellerate the completion of your course – The Vic Govt listing for this unit is 150 hours duration whereas our longest current unit CHCDSP001 Facilitate dispute resolution in the family law context is less than half that duration.

I possibly have a couple of other students interested in following this path so it may be a course option that will grow over time.

Please note that we are also looking for training support for a “Graduate Diploma in Relationship Counselling” for both that full program and a Double Graduate Diploma option for our existing students but that is a secret which we havent announced yet so I ask you not to tell anyone about this.


MI utilises video based contact so reasonable IT skills are required (but we will assist the right person).  Up to date TAE qualifications preferred.

If anyone is interested or knows of a suitable candidate please let me know

Mi Peacemaker Project

Mi Peacemaker Project

Paul Kenna

Paul Kenna is a NMAS Accredited Mediator, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, Family Lawyer and Barrister. He is an innovative and passionate supporter of appropriate dispute resolution and making use of technology to improve human outcomes.

At the recent National Mediation Conference Joanne and I were approached by a man with a mission.  Ron was representing the “Oenpelli Peacemakers” from Gunbalanya Community in Arnhem Land in Northern Territory.  He came to this conference looking for help to change the violence and community conflict that was plaguing his community.  I’m not sure what he was thinking when he turned up at a national conference for professional mediators but his passion and dogged determination made us sit up and listen.

We spoke with Ron about how empowering processes such as mediation, family group conferencing and restorative justice practices may be used in a cultural context to help the community to rebuild. His goal is to turn around the antisocial practices that was making living in their community uncomfortable  or even dangerous.  He told us of a breakdown of respect between the young people and the elders and the lack of motivation, the fighting and the continued drift away from culture that he wants to reverse.

We had a couple of good discussions with Ron at the conference  and have been continuing the conversation by telephone in the weeks since.  We committed to seeing what we can do to help without seeking to impose our view of the world and solutions on their problems. 

Joanne and I will be spending a week there in early August, which is about as soon as our current calendar commitments allow.

In preparation we are looking  at how we might be able to help and the resources we can access.    Ron and we all believe that Mediation is a powerful process, but we know that it isn’t a silver bullet to success.

We intend to look at how we can support leaders with training in mediation skills to help them to work in the community.  Ron knows his community far better than I but I don’t know that training community members to NMAS standards would be enough to work the magic that is required.  After all that was tried in the past.


Learning from the past

I did a literature search and found this article in the NT Law Society Journal in 2012 where a project was done to accredit local people in Gunbalanya with NMAS qualifications. 

The report of the project and a more in depth article painted a very positive ambition for the process.  It appears that like so many projects that have funding to intervene but not to sustain the ambitions for the project have not yet been achieved. 

We don’t want to make the same mistakes from the past and need to look carefully what resources and supports are needed to help such an initiative to work into the future.

One early discussion canvassed the need for mentoring and support for the peacemakers in the community. 

Would practising mediators in other parts of the country be willing to build a professional relationship with an individual community mediator to support them remotely in their work? 

Would the community mediators want that?

What can we learn from other projects in other communities?

The internet available in Gumbalanya is OK and would support video meetings although the understanding of the technology in the community may be lacking. 

We don’t see such an arrangement as one sided. We are sure that the learnings would flow both ways.

Are you interested?

If there are any mediators who would like to participate in such a project use the form below to send me an email.

This would allow me to make such an offer to the community to consider.  This is not a paying gig but we would be happy to train any participants with our Professional Supervisor training as a recognition of your commitment should you feel you need to polish up these skills.

Our Family Group Conferencing training is more focussed on helping families work with services when there are concerns about the safety of a child or young person in the family. It is particularly relevant for Aboriginal Communities where removing a child from their family and putting them into foster care can have massively negative flow on effects in terms of loss of culture, country and language. Issues related to crime in the community may also see the need for a modified form of restorative justice in the approach to trying to rebuild a functional social structure and pride in the community.

As I said I am not approaching this project with a fixed view of what is needed. We are going to visit, to talk and listen. To share stories and to offer what we can.

We think that training more peacemakers with mediation and facilitation skills and principles may be helpful but time will tell.

National Reconciliation Week is not just about big ticket issues like the adoption of the Statement from the Heart, which is at last at least getting some constructive consideration by our government, but also small project that have a direct impact on peoples lives.  Our approach is to directly assist when we can, which has got MI working in Kenya and East Africa as well as the USA, and not rely on the political or government process to do everything for everyone. 

We would welcome anyone who would like to walk with us on this project, to share your knowledge and learn from our nations first people.  Use the form below to let us know if you are interested.


Mi Communication Technology

This is the first post in our technology blog which is an attempt to distill some of the ideas we have in development, some of the projects we have that may or may not be adopted, experimented with and otherwise used to challenge the status quo.

These pages are about how we have done things.  They may not be the best way, but generally they are our best way that we can afford to give the best result possible for our students and trainers.  I rely on the support and advice of Joanne, Ken and our other trainers but generally I’m running our tech operations so I’ll have to be responsible for our tech success and failures. 

Remember that by training I’m a lawyer not an IT professional.  One of the great benefits of being a lawyer is that you know everything or know where you can look up an elusive answer.  This is far more empowering than the wise technology professionals who know what they know and humbly know what their limitations are.  Having a lawyer running IT has great potential for large technology advances and major costly stuff ups.  You are welcome to come along for the ride.

People have asked me how we do all this stuff and still keep our prices down amongst the lowest of those in our market.  We will try and share our experiences in achieving value for money outcomes and where we wish to head into the future.  I will try and respond to any questions that these posts generate.


Other posts by Paul Kenna

Mi Peacemaker Project

Mediation Institute is involved in a project Mi Peacemaker Project with a community in Northern Territory. Find out how you can get involved.

Read More »

Mental Health and Wellbeing In the Legal Industry

Mental Health and Wellbeing In the Legal Industry

Paul Kenna

Paul Kenna

Paul Kenna is an experienced family lawyer, mediator, family dispute resolution practitioner and legal supervisor for Interact Support.

Do you confuse Mental Health with Mental Illness?

Too many people generally and too many people working in the broader legal industry confuse Mental Health and Mental Illness and consequently shy away from discussing either.  Mental Illness is a convenient excuse for anything out of our ordinary that we don’t want to address.   

Yet if you are willing to look a little closer you will realise that mental illness is at the end of continium under the banner of Mental Health. 

Mental Health Continuum

If you had a scale between 1 and 100 where 100 was optimal wellbeing and 1 was a profoundly challenged person who would struggle to exist in society then most of the incidents of Mental Illness that we come across in our daily lives in this profession would be in the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s in this scale.  Psychologists have tried to rate mental Illness and what is normal in what is known as the Global Assessment of functioning.  

This scale was included in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version IV) and is summarised as follows:

91 – 100 No symptoms. Superior functioning in a wide range of activities, life’s problems never seem to get out of hand, is sought out by others because of his or her many positive qualities.


81 – 90 Absent or minimal symptoms (e.g., mild anxiety before an exam), good functioning in all areas, interested and involved in a wide range of activities, socially effective, generally satisfied with life, no more than everyday problems or concerns.
71 – 80 If symptoms are present, they are transient and expectable reactions to psychosocial stressors (e.g., difficulty concentrating after family argument); no more than slight impairment in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., temporarily falling behind in work or schoolwork).
61 – 70 Some mild symptoms (e.g., depressed mood and mild insomnia) or some difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., occasional absenteeism or truancy, or theft within the household ), but generally functioning pretty well, has some meaningful interpersonal relationships.
51 – 60 Moderate symptoms (e.g., flat affect and circumlocutory speech, occasional panic attacks) or moderate difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., few friends, conflicts with peers or co-workers).
41 – 50 Serious symptoms (e.g., suicidal ideation, severe obsessional rituals, frequent shoplifting) or any serious impairment in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., no friends, unable to keep a job, cannot work).
31 – 40 Some impairment in reality testing or communication (e.g., speech is at times illogical, obscure, or irrelevant) or major impairment in several areas, such as work or school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood (e.g., depressed adult avoids friends, neglects family, and is unable to work; child frequently beats up younger children, is defiant at home, and is failing at school).
21 – 30 Behavior is considerably influenced by delusions or hallucinations or serious impairment, in communication or judgment (e.g., sometimes incoherent, acts grossly inappropriately, suicidal preoccupation) or inability to function in almost all areas (e.g., stays in bed all day, no job, home, or friends)
11 – 20 Some danger of hurting self or others (e.g., suicide attempts without clear expectation of death; frequently violent; manic excitement) or occasionally fails to maintain minimal personal hygiene (e.g., smears feces) or gross impairment in communication (e.g., largely incoherent or mute).
1 – 10 Persistent danger of severely hurting self or others (e.g., recurrent violence) or persistent inability to maintain minimal personal hygiene or serious suicidal act with clear expectation of death.

Staying Sane amongst all this Mental Illness

When I was studying it was pretty hard to maintain a 90 + grade average – indeed I dont think I ever did as an undergraduate student but that improved for the better as a part time mature aged student.  In a profession where you are expected to be right all the time despite the facts and the law are selldom that clear cut raises stress levels.  Add to this the stress our clients bring to the practice of Family law and Dispute Resolution.  A little bit of self care may be needed.

There is a nice resource that was developed by the Law Society of South Australia to assist its members and those in the profession generally which you can access whether you are a lawyer or not.  Its called their Health and Wellbeing package that aims to expand participants’ knowledge of mental health issues, and for participants to then contribute to building a culture of wellness and self-care throughout the legal profession. To access the program, go to the Law Society of South Australia ‘s website. You don’t have to be a LSSA member but you will need to create an account and login. Click on this link    It should take between one to one and a half hours, and completing it earns you one CPD unit (for Victorian Lawyers in the compulsory area of professional development).


Gem Emmerson

Gem Emmerson says…

After undertaking extensive online research on mediation education providers, I chose to work with the Mediation Institute to assist me in making a diversion in my career path.

Read More »


There is also another resource that may be of value to practitioners working in high stress areas.  Mindscount has been established to focus legal practices on what they are doing to their lawyers.  Check out their online Publications and other resources for people working in this industry https://mindscount.org/resources/online-publications/

One of the prices we have to pay when considering issues like this is that it can stir up issues in our own lives that may not have been fully dealt with.  Thats healthy and needs to be addressed but not necessarily alone.  We have great resourses available if we need support such as:

Lifeline Crisis support Phone 13 11 14  (24 hour)
SANE helpline (9am -5pm) 1800 187 263
Beyondblue info line 1300 224 636
Black Dog Institute    (02) 9382 2991
Men’s Line Australia  1300 789 978
Salvos Care Line   1300 363 622
And Your GP who can provide you with a Mental Health plan and discounted access to psychological support 


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