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

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).



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 


Upcoming Events
Family Group Conference Workshop
Mon 27

Sydney Family Group Conference Facilitation Workshop

27 May @ 8:30 am - 28 May @ 5:00 pm AEST
Sydney NSW
Tue 28

Online Peer Group Supervision Session

28 May @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm AEST
Tue 28

Online Peer Group Supervision Session

28 May @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm AEST

CHC81115 – Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution Flyer

What’s Online Learning?

What's online learning?

Online learning is a method of delivering educational material via the internet instead of in a physical classroom.

There are many different applications for online learning.

The simplest form of online learning involves providing a website with downloadable content and assessment booklets that are completed then emailed or even posted back to the institute for assessment.  We don’t do that.

Mediation Institute delivers eLearning that maximises the use of technology. That means you complete the coursework and assessment through a structured program with student interaction and feedback from the assessors on a task by task basks.

Guidance for Role Players mediation institute frequently asked questions

The history of Distance Learning

“Distance learning” refers to the idea of learning at a distance where learning materials are sent to the student. This was first put into practice by the University of London External System in 1858 and would have relied entirely on the postal system.

Back then the distance learning experience may not have been a particularly interactive system and unfortunately there are still a few providers around who haven’t really advanced much in the past hundred and fifty or so years.

The opportunity that the internet provides

Modern technology has the potential to offer the advantages of the traditional classroom to distance learning students and yet many of the so-called online learning courses offered today in Australia make little practical use of the internet. They are little more than distance learning with the post office replaced by downloadable materials and submission of assessment tasks by email.

This is not what we consider leading edge modern education!

Computers and internet give us the opportunity to engage with the learner using a variety of electronic means including recorded video and audio materials, presentation materials, online seminars complete with whiteboards and live person to person interaction over video.

Technology with a human touch

At Mediation Institute we want our students to experience the peer learning benefits of participating in structured workshops without the inconvenience of travel and having to invest days at a time into their studies.

We are achieving this by enhancing the learning experience through our use of online services.

Have we completely replaced the experience of attending a workshop?  Honestly, no.

But for students who participate in all of the interactive learning opportunities available to them we believe we’re at least achieving 80% of the benefits and avoiding all of the downsides of attending workshops.

Mediation Institute eLearning experience

We make use of the industry leading eLearning Management System – Instructure’s Canvas as well as other technology to support the ways in which our trainers can interact with students and students can work with other students through live video meetings.

Recordings allow the very time poor to time shift and watch the webinar discussions after the event although it is much better if you can attend live so that you get your questions answered.

Our routine Wednesday role plays provide the opportunity to Zoom in and participate in a role play with other students every week or less frequently depending on your personal priorities.

“Our focus on engaging our students saw us win the converted eLearning Excellence Award for Vocational Education and Training in 2014 and achieve a student completion rate of 83.3% in 2015.”

Joanne Law, Director of Studies

The next innovation

Our core values are Accessibility, Collaboration and Innovation.

That means we don’t intend to stand still ether.

We are currently developing the new Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution Program (CHC81115) and are excited by the way we are packaging in the use of supervision to support students even more as they complete their studies with Mediation Institute and support them when they being working with clients.

We have also applied to add the new Graduate Diploma in Relationship Counselling to our course selection. This course complements many of the FDR units and will allow us to offer a Double Grad Dip FDR/Relationship Counselling for those who have the necessary Counselling background.

With a targeted start date later in the year we will be seeking to employ a head of Counselling and counselling trainers to support this and a new Diploma of Counselling course.

In both the new FDR and Counselling courses we will be utilising the supervision model between students and their allocated trainer to improve learning outcomes and develop an understanding of the value of ongoing supervision particularly where a practitioner is working in their own practice or remotely from an employing entity.

Under the careful watch of Colin, Paul and Joanne; Mediation Institute is growing strongly and we will be striving to ensure that our version of online learning is not only as good as traditional classroom learning but far exceeds it in terms of making quality education available to Australians no matter where they live or how they live there life.

Russian or Chinese Hackers interested in Mediation

Overnight our LMS was visited by Russian or Chinese hackers who broke in, and locked up our learning management system. We were made aware of the breaking in early this morning and by lunchtime we were able to reinstate our site on a new server with new IP address.  We have additional new security features that should not be apparant when you use the site.

We did not pay the ransom demanded to unencrypt our site and your study material. We have reinstated our full content from a backup that was done on the 3 February and your materials from a database backup done on the 4th February 2019.

If you have done work on 4th February 2019 or early morning Melbourne time 5 February, can you check whether your latest submissions are online. If they are not please contact Joanne Law and explain what materials are missing – if you have copies of submitted material please upload them.  All is not lost if you do not have copies. We have access to the hacked site and can access some material but we need your guidance so we can look in the right place.  I cannot merge the hacked site back into the new site and maintain security.

Regrettably this is one of the troubles of running a busy on-line learning site.

Paul Kenna

Mediation Institute

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