From the CEO
November 2018 >>
End of year events, such as Annual Meetings and festive cheer, provide a moment to pause and reflect on the year that has been and to articulate plans for the year to come. The Resolution Institute Annual General Meeting was no exception.
The Chair, Gary Ulman in his Report commented that although “we are living in times where change and disruption have become the norm”, there will always be disputes and the need for dispute resolvers. Gary quoted the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, the Honourable Wayne Martin AC as having recently said,
The rapid development and success of ADR belies any inference that it is some kind of lesser, or inferior, or less frequent system of dispute resolution. Its place as the primary means of dispute resolution is well established and it is inevitable that the role of ADR will be developed and expanded, particularly with developments in the area of IT to which I have referred.
With a continued community need for dispute resolvers, Gary emphasised how important it is that Resolution Institute optimises the services it provides for members and that it shows leadership in all aspects of dispute resolution. Gary was pleased to report that the business strategy set by the Board will achieve those outcomes, specifically highlighting recent and upcoming projects: increased contact with local member groups, Board committees being established, a review of the Constitution, a new model for local member groups in 2019, the initiative to engage members in industry growth groups, a media relations strategy, a member satisfaction survey and a website to be delivered in early 2019.
In reflecting on these recent successes, the Chair acknowledged those who have contributed to those successes. Gary noted former Board members, Mark Beech, Alysoun Boyle and Jeanette Kinahan, the Ambassadors, Annabel Shaw and Ian Govey AO and former patrons Sir Ian Barker and Sir Laurence Street, the latter of whom we are looking to honour further. Gary also drew particular attention to former Chair and the 2018 Immediate Past Chair, Margaret Halsmith and Board member, Carol Powell who have been honoured in the last year. Finally, Gary was generous in his thanks and acknowledgement of the contributions of Board members and staff to the current success of Resolution Institute.
The Report from Treasurer, Siddharth Soin, provided financial endorsement of Gary’s comments. Sid reported a profit of $46,585 for the 2017-18 financial year, which he noted was an outstanding result compared to the 2018 budgeted profit of $18,111, and the operating loss of $90,455 in 2017. This impressive result, Sid attributed to success of the restorative justice program in New Zealand, the overall cost savings in a range of areas, short term salary savings and a better than budgeted membership fee result. Sid commented that organisations like Resolution Institute need a financial surplus to roll out project initiatives and achieve long term goals. The Board had this year decided to invest some of the surplus with BT Financial Group to achieve financial growth. Sid also commented that the Board this year had made a very difficult decision to close the trust account as a review had shown that it represented a disproportionate expense and posed significant risks to maintain the trust account for a relatively small number of users (on average about 30 per year) and even a smaller number of regular users (3-5 per year). The Treasurer was pleased to report that the auditor, RP Campbell Associates Pty Limited, had issued an unqualified audit opinion for the financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2018 and that the audit management letter contained nothing material to bring to the Board or Management’s attention. Like the Chair, Sid reflected on past achievements and expressed optimism for projects already planned for 2019 and also acknowledged the valued contribution of staff noting in particular accountants Robert Grima (AUS) and Gerry Westhuis (NZ).
My report maintained the positive tone conveyed by both the Chair and the Treasurer. I noted that Resolution Institute’s mission of Leading excellence is the touchstone for assessing our decisions, projects and activities. We know that Resolution Institute, as the largest membership organisation across Australia and New Zealand, has a responsibility to lead in achieving excellence in dispute resolution and that this aligns with the interests of our members: people in our communities who are highly satisfied with dispute resolution services, leads to growth in the sector. Some of the most important ways in which we place “excellence” at the centre is through our accreditation and continuing professional development activities, in the training and assessment we provide, in our publication of Pulse and The Arbitrator and the Mediator, in the issues on which we speak up as a voice for members and in the recognition and awards we support. The success of these activities is bolstered by the energetic efforts of members through Chapter and Special Interest Group committee and also by the generous support from so many law firms and other organisations that provide venues for events and share their expertise with us particularly through our publications.
Like the Chair and the Treasurer, I expressed my thanks to the Board for its guidance, to staff for their diligence and support, noting particularly General Managers, Hayley Jarrick (AUS) and Catherine Cooper (NZ) for their initiatives and insights and the Chair and the Treasurer for their ready availability and wise counsel.
Each of these Reports along with information that provides a more complete picture of Resolution Institute achievements over the past year, will be available in the Annual Report which will shortly be released. I encourage you to take time to dip into the Report and to consider the different ways available to you to engage with your membership organisation, Resolution Institute.
October 2018 >>
I felt very privileged last week to be a participant in three very high-quality professional learning events.
In Melbourne on Tuesday 15 October, after opening the Resolution Institute offering for Arbitration Week, I was pleased to be able to enjoy and learn from an interesting discussion about Offshore energy arbitration: lessons learnt. Thanks to the generosity of HFW Australia, the event was held in the HFW offices in a room with expansive views across Melbourne. Chief organiser, Resolution Institute member and HFW partner, Nick Longley, had assembled a panel of three highly experienced arbitrators, Nicholas Pane QC, Bronwyn Lincoln (Corrs, Chambers, Westgarth) and Matthew Blycha (HFW Australia), to discuss a range of important issues in arbitration of off-shore energy disputes. While the particularly contentious nature of offshore energy disputes brings these issues into sharp focus, I noticed that the issues are pertinent for a wide range of arbitrations. The speakers canvassed the challenges of developing a bespoke arbitration process with parties from a range of jurisdictions over a long period of time, maintaining flexibility to respond appropriately to changing parties and circumstances, ensuring confidentiality, identifying an appropriately qualified and experienced arbitrator from a relatively small pool, choosing appropriate experts and working with in-house counsel effectively. Resolution Institute extends its thanks to Nick, Nicholas, Bronwyn and Matt for putting time aside to prepare the panel session and then to hold such an engaging conversation.
On the evening of the 15th, I was unexpectedly able to attend the Clayton Utz and University of Sydney International Arbitration lecture on The Need for Speed – Is International Arbitration Becoming Overly Fixated with Efficiency? by Robin Oldenstam, head of Mannheimer Swartling’s International Arbitration Practice and also the current Swedish member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration. This thought-provoking presentation was a timely reminder of the importance of balancing a drive towards greater efficiency with the maintenance of robust procedure. Efficiency that leads to an erosion of procedural generosity risks an increased dissatisfaction by parties (particularly the losing party) and an increased chance of appeal of the Award. While appeals have not frequently been successful, the time and costs of defending an Award can be considerable and the risk of an Award being upheld may increase in a jurisdiction that is not overly arbitration-friendly.
From Melbourne, I flew to Wellington in time for the Resolution Institute conference Spotlight on Practice. After the Mihi Whakatau (opening by Maori representatives), delegates found themselves moving between three short and sharp table-based discussions on topical DR issues. This high active engagement continued throughout the conference. Delegates who had anticipated that they would sit back and just listen, may have been surprised by the format of extended interactive workshop sessions that encouraged participant input, discussion and sharing of insights and ideas. My impression was that, if there was surprise, it was welcome. The conference buzzed! Lots of delegates commented to me about how much they were enjoying and learning in the sessions, encapsulated well in this feedback: The change in format was inspired and really worked well. I think I got more personally out of the conference than I have in any other RI event …
Of course, it was not just the format. It was also the content. Presentations were consistently thoughtful, well-structured and stimulating. Topics included culturally appropriate practice, neuroscience, micro-skills, appropriate responses when things go badly, risk management and business development. Congratulations and thanks to all the presenters and to the Wellington based staff team, particularly Catherine Cooper, General Manager (NZ) and Laura Collins (Training and Membership Services).
What a banquet of learning I enjoyed last week. And how privileged I consider myself to be to have a year-long program of quality continuing professional development events. Thank you to all the Chapter Committee volunteers who organise the CPD events. Thank you, too, to the presenters at Chapter events, masterclasses and in webinars. And thank you in advance to those members who will be part of the local 2019 Professional Development Groups (replacing Chapters) and the AUS/NZ Professional Development Network. Your contribution to the learning of Resolution Institute dispute resolution professionals and other DR colleagues, is also a contribution to the delivery of quality dispute resolution services within the community.
August 2018 >>
Dear members and colleagues,
An important aspect of Resolution Institute service, as a professional membership body, is addressing complaints from clients. The Resolution Institute frames its complaints handling policy in terms of “feedback”. The policy opens with:
Resolution Institute welcomes compliments, suggestions and complaints. Resolution Institute believes that each of these forms of feedback enables us to improve and extend the services we offer. It also enables members to engage in continuous improvement in their delivery of high quality, professional DR, education and advice.
When a compliment comes our way, we say “thank-you” and true to the statement above, we consider how we can embed and build on the service which has attracted approbation.
When we receive a complaint, even if we feel discomforted, we demonstrate our “welcome”, true to the statement above, by listening carefully and respectfully to ensure that we understand the concern being raised.
When the complaint is about a Resolution Institute service, we show how it “enables us to improve and extend the services we offer” by describing what we will do differently as a result of the complaint. As well, as appropriate, we provide clarifying information, reference to the relevant legislation, regulation or procedure, acknowledgement of error, apology and/or rectification.
When the complaint is about a service provided by a member, we let the member know and seek the member’s perspective. In most cases, complaints relate to the outcome of the service provided. In such cases, we provide the client with information about the DR process, professional requirements, legislation or regulation. True to our policy’s opening statement about complaints enabling “members to engage in continuous improvement”, Resolution Institute provides professional coaching to support members who have received a complaint to reflect on their practice, to learn from the complaint and to consider approaches they could adopt in the future which may address similar concerns and underlying interests of clients in the future. In cases where the complaint suggests inappropriate conduct or inadequate professional practice, our complaints procedure includes that the member can be referred for investigation and disciplinary action. Fortunately, cases resulting in disciplinary action are very rare indeed.
Overall, Resolution Institute receives relatively few complaints about its services or about its members. This suggests that our members demonstrate in their behaviours and professional practice a commitment to the Resolution Institute Code of Ethics. This code requires members to be honest, to behave with integrity in both their professional and personal lives, to be appropriately qualified, to undertake ongoing learning and development, to communicate respectfully and even-handedly, to exhibit fairness, diligence and independence and “to be faithful to the relationship of trust and confidentiality inherent in the role of DR practitioner”.
It is a testament to the professionalism and lived values of our members that Resolution Institute receives few complaints and even fewer that need legal defence. As a result of these low numbers of complaints, Resolution Institute has been able to negotiate and maintain for ten years, an inexpensive professional indemnity and public liability master policy. The number of claims on this policy have been very low, not ever coming close to reaching the maximum for either individual claims or claims in the aggregate. For our more than 700 members who have opted to hold this policy, it provides peace of mind at a very reasonable price to cover legal costs and expenses of defending a potential allegation about providing inadequate services, should one ever arise. (Members who are policy holders: keep a lookout for a policy renewal notice which will be sent shortly from the provider of our master policy, Astute Insurance Services.)
Whether through the Resolution Institute master policy or through a different policy, cover is the necessary backup protection should a complaint not be resolved directly between the client and practitioner or through Resolution Institute.
The most fundamental protections rest in members individually and collectively delivering professional services with skill and integrity and being responsive to feedback we receive from our clients.
July 2018 >>
Hello Resolution Institute members and colleagues,
Resolution Institute encourages Board members and staff to maintain their skills and develop their knowledge about the DR sector and the larger not-for-profit sector within the community.
Resolution Institute is one of close to 700,000 not-for-profit organisations within Australia and New Zealand. Not-for-profits span a large range of professional groups such as doctors, lawyers, landscape architects, ultrasound technologists, archivists, traffic planners… and industry and interest groups such as furnishings, dental hygiene, pets, netball, property, sports science…
A Resolution Institute team of four (Chair, CEO and two GMs) attended the recent Associations Forum and found our curiosity piqued by the diversity of professional focus and interests of the roughly 500 attending organisations. Significantly, we found ourselves engaged by presentations which spoke to key challenges shared across the not-for-profit sector.
For many not-for-profits, a major part of their raison d’être is service to members and in turn, to the community. Not-for-profits play a significant role in enhancing the community perception of members as being part of well-respected professions. Promoting high standards of qualification (such as accreditation and grading) and ethical behaviour is a core part of service to members. Still core and yet increasingly challenging is provision of information and education, which has been chipped away by the expanding access to open source information from across the globe. Increasingly, organisations such as Resolution Institute are seeking to add value by identifying different segments within their membership and curating information that specifically addresses the needs of those different member segments. Particular challenges lie in presenting that information in the range of ways that different members like to receive it: visually, aurally, graphically, text-based, hard copy, soft copy, on a computer and on mobile devices. To meet these challenges there is an ever-growing emphasis on content and relationship management systems with sophisticated functionality and potential for complex and meaningful data analytics. And all on tight budgets.
Alongside the pillar of serving members stand two other equally important pillars: advocacy and promotion.
Large numbers of not-for-profits, as well as for-profits, want the ear of government. Competition is fierce; government is complex and government agendas are full. Pitching a cause effectively needs the right audience in the right arm of government, clear messaging, evidence base, potential for political mileage and likelihood of solving a problem. Paraphrasing one speaker: Advocacy is something of a dark art. Advocacy is about playing the long game. It is about building relationships over many years, showing yourselves to be good partners. Sometimes the most effective advocacy is virtually invisible – it is stopping government making a poor decision that no-one knew government was going to make. The days of getting quick wins have gone.
Promoting the organisation, the cause and the professionals is a strategic endeavour inextricably linked with creating value for sponsors and media outlets. It relies on vision, story, effort and immediacy. News cycles are short; news items are short; news is shared and re-shared; news is visual. One striking stat at the conference was that 60% of video is watched without audio – an imperative for sub-titling. Promoting our presence with audiences that are important in the field of dispute resolution (isn’t that everyone?) will increasingly need investment in digital marketing and social media to connect members with each other, members with potential clients and work referrers and Resolution Institute with business, government and the broader community.
Food for thought!
June 2018 >>
Last month I wrote about the Board’s commitment to raising the profile of Resolution Institute. I want to continue with this theme, with a focus on what individual members can do.
Some years ago, as a newly trained and accredited dispute resolver, I was keen to join what is now Resolution Institute. As a fledgling dispute resolver, I considered that associating with a well-regarded dispute resolution membership organisation provided me with professional credibility and a professional community. I proudly marketed myself as belonging to Resolution Institute, recommended it for training and CPD and referred those in my client community to Resolution Institute for dispute resolution services beyond those which I was able to provide. In circumstances where a person was unaware of Resolution Institute, I could talk about its role in developing and maintaining professional standards and in encouraging collegiate networks. In so doing, I was actually telling them also about the standards of education and professionalism that I met in order to be part of this very significant DR body. By closely and publicly associating with, Resolution Institute, a body known for excellence in dispute resolution, a little of its lustre reflected on me and supported my marketing efforts.
I know that there are many members who use their connection with Resolution Institute in ways similar to that which my own story above records. As they market themselves, they also raise the profile of Resolution Institute.
As a membership organisation, we rely on members to “market the brand” on behalf of the organisation, on behalf of their colleagues and of themselves. Marketing the brand effectively requires high standards of professional integrity and behaviour as described in the Code of Ethics >>). It requires high standards of professional practice and a commitment to ongoing professional learning, grading and accreditation. Marketing the brand requires our members to be ambassadors for Resolution Institute, using its name in preference to the name of one of its former constituent organisations. It requires the collective effort of all our members.
If you would like to contribute to the collective effort with your fellow members to raise the profile of Resolution Institute, consider which of the following you are yet still to do:
- Update the profile and CV on your firm’s website. Some members’ profiles continue to claim membership of one of Resolution Institute’s constituent organisations.
- Add the Resolution Institute post-nominals to your name >> As with many post nominals, ours are a conversation starter - their meaning is not obvious to the uninitiated!
- Add to your email address and to your website a Resolution Institute logo >>
- Modernise the bio that you use as a presenter. Include that you have been a member of the now Resolution Institute since 19xx, and that, for example, you were a Chapter Chair from 20xx- 20yy, a member of a Committee from 19xx-19yy of the now Resolution Institute
- Promote the services of Resolution Institute – training, SIG events, webinars, DR clauses, the dispute resolver directory …
- Let colleagues and clients know about Resolution Institute professional or associate membership
- Talk about what your membership entails and what your grading and accreditation require
Let me encourage you to take what steps you can to increase the recognition of Resolution Institute.
May 2018 >>
I have in the past described the strong commitment of the Board to raising the profile of Resolution Institute. In the past two weeks we have had a particular focus on this goal.
On Tuesday 15 May 2018, the Chief Justice of Western Australia, the Hon. Wayne Martin AC accepted our invitation to give the address at the presentation of the Resolution Institute Michael Klug Award to member Sarah Blake and of Honorary Life Membership to former Chair Margaret Halsmith. We were delighted that the Attorney General of Western Australia, the Hon. John Quigley also graciously accepted our invitation to join us as did the Registrars of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. Acceptance by both of the Attorney General and the Chief Justice is particularly significant as it was Law Week in Western Australia. Both had very busy schedules and yet both took time to pay tribute to our awardees and to Resolution Institute itself. Law firm, Jackson MacDonald very generously hosted the event as they host other Resolution Institute events throughout the year. (More information and pics about these presentations >>)
On Thursday 17 May, Resolution Institute was pleased once again to be sponsoring the Australasian Law Awards Arbitrator of the Year and Mediator of the Year awards. Sponsorship of these Awards gives Resolution Institute a very visible profile at the awards event in front of an audience of more than 650 legal advisors from leading law firms. Our advertisement >> in the program booklet is an excellent vehicle for Resolution Institute to promote the expertise of our members so that lawyers can keep their clients out of court. Our sponsorship also gives Resolution Institute the opportunity to acknowledge the generous support of law firms and the contribution of DR industry leaders, as our guests for the gala dinner of the Awards evening. And we are very pleased to boast that of the ten nominees for these Awards, nominated by law firms, legal advisors or colleagues, nine of them are Resolution Institute members. Resolution Institute congratulates all the nominees and particularly congratulates the winners, John Wakefield (Arbitrator of the Year) and Dr Anne Purcell (Mediator of the Year). (More information about the award event >>)
On Friday 18 May, Resolution Institute consolidated its profile with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), as we sponsored its Negotiating Outcomes on Time (NOOT) competition. With our logo featuring on the AAT website and the opportunity to sponsor and present the prize of two enrolments in mediation training, our audience includes senior members of the AAT, university academics and students. More information about the NOOT >> On Friday 25 May, I was pleased to present about Resolution Institute and a career in DR to students completing a dispute resolution course as part of their law degrees at University of Melbourne. In July 2018, our partnership with the University expands as we jointly contribute to mediation training that meets the requirements of the National Mediator Accreditation System and contributes to completion of a Masters in law. This partnership complements our partnership with the University of New South Wales where our complete mediation course contributes to the Masters of Dispute Resolution and our joint venture with the University of Adelaide for the Professional Certificate in Arbitration. Connecting with students who are already demonstrating an interest in DR enables us to get in at the ground floor of their careers. A focus of our member engagement activities is to consider how we can improve the value proposition for students and keep them connected to Resolution Institute through their many career transitions.
Today we have been contacted by the General Office of Chongqing Arbitration Commission, to request a meeting with Resolution Institute to learn about Resolution Institute operations, roles, promotion and the use of mediation and ADR. The delegation also hopes to exchange information and ideas, in the hope of setting up a link for potential collaboration in the future. Connecting with agencies from other jurisdictions confirms Resolution Institute’s status as the leading DR membership organisation in the SE Asian and Pacific region and in so doing adds lustre to our reputation.
Chief Executive Officer
April 2018 >>
A claim that Resolution Institute frequently makes is that it is “a voice for members”. As your membership organisation, Resolution Institute is alert to legislative and scheme reviews which could have an impact on or open opportunities for our members. As the largest professional member organisation for dispute resolvers, Resolution Institute has the stature and credibility to be listened to by government agencies and businesses. We are the “voice” for members in circumstances which often hinder or preclude individuals making comment.
We regularly present core Resolution Institute platforms about the value of providing a range of dispute resolution options for clients, the centrality of impartiality, the potential to customise DR processes to suit clients’ needs, the benefits of flexibility and time and cost effectiveness, the importance of using trained and qualified dispute resolvers and the assurance of quality and professionalism that membership of Resolution Institute provides.
To add to these core platforms, whenever possible or appropriate, we seek the views of members on the specific issues under review. Sometimes this means preparing and distributing a survey; other times it means partnering with local groups to hold meetings at which members share their perspectives; and at other times again, it may mean calling key members of locally based Chapter, Special Interest or networking groups for comment. ON occasion, the short timeframes particulalrly related to administrative reviews, require Resolution Institute staff to respond very quickly without member consultation.
A number of significant reviews seem always to be in progress. Currently, two are considering building and construction industry security of payments schemes, one in NSW and one in Western Australia. Another two are focussed on family law, one being led by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) reviewing family law in Australia and another In New Zealand recently announced by the Minister of Justice.
Security of Payments schemes operate within different state jurisdictions across Australia and in New Zealand. The Australian schemes were subject to a major national review in 2017. Resolution Institute member John Murray AM, appointed to conduct the review, received Resolution Institute arms-length cooperation and input both from state Chapters and from national office as well as from a large range of others interested or with a stake in security of payments schemes. John completed the review in late 2017. The next step is for the review to be released by the federal government. In the meantime, states are continuing to consider opportunities for improvements to their own schemes.
In NSW, in our capacity as an Authorised Nomination Authority we were invited to attend a meeting with the NSW regulator, and make a response within a very short timeframe on specific implementation issues. In WA, the current review is particularly focused on the needs of sub-contractors. The WA Chapter is working very actively to engage local adjudicator members. The meeting held to seek the views of local adjudicators on the first phase of the Inquiry, was well attended, an indicator of the importance of the issues being canvassed to the interests of dispute resolvers. The draft of the response prepared by two WA Chapter members became the core of the Response completed and submitted by the Resolution Institute staff team. A great partnership between local Chapter and Resolution Institute staff!
In New Zealand Resolution Institute recently responded to the Law Commission’s Property (Relationship) Act review and we are awaiting more information on the process for the review of the family justice system announced recently by Minister of Justice Andrew Little. Resolution Institute continues to meet with the Ministry of Justice on FDR and will work to ensure that members have opportunities to express their thoughts in the review.
The Report from the ALRC about its review of family law In Australiia is due in March 2019 (the review having commenced in late 2017). This is the first review of the Family Law Act (1975) (CTH) since 1976 and occurs in a context of changed and greater diversity of family structures and of family and social needs. Resolution Institute recognises the importance of families being able to access ways to resolve their disputes that provide them with dignity and respect and deliver strong outcomes for all family members and in the best interests of children. Resolution Institute also recognises that a significant number of our members both in Australia and New Zealand specialise in family dispute resolution. This means that we have a wealth of expertise to draw upon to prepare our Response to the recently released ALRC Issues Paper. As well, we have a responsibility to be a “voice” for our members who work in this critically important area for our communities.
In addition to the Resolution Institute office inviting members to complete a survey about the Family Law review, the NSW Family Dispute Resolution Special Interest Group (SIG) is hosting and facilitating a session at which members will discuss key issues. The SIG will collate the comments from this session to augment survey responses and to inform the Response by Resolution Institute. Another fine example of a very productive partnership between a local SIG and Resolution Institute staff.
I hope you take the time to dip into the Resolution Institute Responses to the WA Security of Payments inquiry and the NSW SOP review published in the April edition of Pulse. The Response to the Australian Family Law review will be published in the May edition and we will keep you updated on progress on the review of the family justice system in NZ.
Chief Executive Officer
March 2018 >>
A Board planning conference on 19-20 March gave members of the Board the opportunity to meet for the first time face-to-face since their election in late November 2017.
As the Board takes seriously careful stewardship of Resolution Institute funds, the usual practice is to hold on-line meetings. On-line meetings facilitate regular and accessible participation of Board members from Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Wellington. By not adding in travel time, online meetings are a way of demonstrating respect for Board members who already contribute considerable volunteer time and effort. And despite these advantages, the Board also considers it essential that between two and three occasions during each Board’s term that it meets together to springboard discussion about important strategic issues.
Face-to face meetings boost the energy, creative thinking and collegiality of Board members. The agenda for the March 2018 meeting ranged across issues of looking over the horizon, clarifying focus, measuring success, engaging members, increasing influence and enabling through appropriate structure and resourcing.
‘Looking over the horizon’, Board members began a conversation about what the future of dispute resolution might look like and what we need to be doing now to help prepare Resolution Institute members for that future. This initial conversation began to map the terrain:
- What will be the impact of demographic changes in the Australian landscape?
- In what ways will technology evolve?
- To what extent will ODR platforms become a feature of the way that dispute resolvers work?
- What effect will developments in artificial intelligence have on the way that disputes are resolved?
- How will the administration of justice change in our communities?
- What will be the impacts of climate change on the types and range of issues in dispute?
- How might our members benefit from an increasingly global marketplace?
The Board plans to revisit this topic and to consider ways of engaging with members in this important conversation.
As well as a focus on the future, the Board particularly emphasised increasing Resolution Institute’s profile for the purposes of increasing our influence and growing work opportunities for members. From feedback to Board members and that the office receives, we know that these are issues of central concern for a large number of our members. While there are ideas a-plenty for how Resolution institute might do this, there are also the imperatives of continuing to run our core activities related to promoting excellence in DR service delivery through grading and accreditation, through providing quality CPD and training and through supporting members connecting with colleagues. There is a constancy in the juggling act of resourcing a vast range of competing priorities. The Board and management team continues to dedicate itself to this challenging and rewarding juggling act for the benefit of our members.
Chief Executive Officer
February 2018 >>
Hello to Resolution Institute members and colleagues,
The contribution that volunteers make to civic life in Australia and New Zealand is awe-inspiring. Whether it be coaching kids’ soccer teams, serving food in a soup kitchen, being a home helper to an aging person, participating in an emergency service, advancing professional standards or contributing to professional learning, as communities we are enriched by people going out of their way for others.
It’s the spirit of volunteerism that attracts me to the not-for-profit sector, and specifically to Resolution Institute.
Resolution Institute members volunteer in a range of ways.
Members volunteer to run local networking, practice and special interest group events. Mostly, these volunteers have been elected by local groups of members to Chapter and Special Interest Group committees. In 2018 following the extended summer holiday siesta, these committees and other volunteers have already organised four special interest group events In Australia and one each of a virtual practice group and a face to face practice group meeting in New Zealand during January and February. The March schedule is almost filled with 9 events already scheduled across New Zealand and Australia.
Feedback from many members is that the face-to-face interactions with other DR professionals is essential for them to feel part of a professional community, particularly in the early phase of their DR careers. Connection with others working in the same field helps them to form a professional identity. When building these connections can be combined with quality professional learning, face-to-face events become even more attractive.
We are tracking what helps local events to be successful and so far we are finding the following:
- advance notice - at least four weeks
- an informative and interesting topic that people can see is relevant to their DR practice
- an appropriately experienced presenter
- a description of what the presentation will cover.
Members volunteer to provide expertise through committees and working groups. The New Zealand Committee meets regularly to consider issues important in the NZ DR landscape and to provide advice to the Board. The Board Determinative Committee considers a range of options for increasing the attractiveness of determinative DR to parties. The WA Determinative Special Interest Group has recently worked on adjudication procedures in that state.
From the feedback we receive, we think that members have an appetite for expanded contribution. We are grateful for all the ideas that members currently share with us. We are keen to harness these ideas and turn them into actions for positive change. The Board and management are currently considering increasing the number of working groups and committees to offer more opportunities for members to contribute in meaningful ways.
Members volunteer as pro bono providers of DR services. Research tells us that there are growing numbers of litigants in developed countries who are self-representing because legal services are out of their reach. DR offers people in dispute more cost-effective, faster and often more satisfactory ways of bringing matters to conclusion. And yet, even with the costs of DR options being lower than litigation, there are many in our community who do not have the resources to access DR services. Realising this, many of our members offer pro bono services in cases they consider would otherwise proceed without any professional aid.
Members also volunteer as Board members. Resolution Institute Board members are elected by Resolution Institute members for two year terms. Board members meet for two hours about eight times per year, mainly online using Zoom. They also meet at least once per year for a two-day face-to-face meeting. For all these meetings, there is considerable reading in preparation for matters to be discussed. The first of the face-to-face meetings in the term of the current Board is being held in mid-March. At this meeting, Board members will review the Resolution Institute strategy and decide priorities for action. High on the agenda will be the value proposition for members and promotion of Resolution Institute and dispute resolution. Board members set aside significant time often over several terms to contribute to strengthen and grow Resolution Institute in the best interests of their fellow DR colleagues, and the Australian and New Zealand communities.
Thanks everyone, for your volunteer efforts.
I hope March is bright for you both personally and professionally.
Chief Executive Officer
January 2018 >>
Welcome back from the holiday season, which we hope you have found to be festive, relaxing and re-energising. Resolution Institute staff are looking forward to a fulfilling 2018 responding to and creating opportunities to provide an enriched service offering to our members and expand our reach to significant stakeholder groups within the DR landscape. We are sure that many of our members, in developing their business plans for the year, are doing similarly for their clients. We wish you well in all your professional efforts for 2018.
Over the first few weeks of January, Resolution institute has noticed a larger than usual number of applications for renewal of accreditation or grading. We wonder whether the holiday break has provided welcome downtime for many of our members to get ahead (or catch up!) on some of the “administrative” tasks that are part and parcel of being a professional. From Resolution Institute’s perspective, responding to initial and renewal accreditation and grading applications with rigorous attention to the relevant scheme requirements is an important way of showing leadership in evolving standards in dispute resolution. We know that at times, Resolution Institute’s strict adherence to the requirements of the various accreditation and grading schemes can seem like a disruption to individual members being able to “get on with business”. And yet as a collective whole, attention to standards helps to grow confidence in the sector as a whole. Consumers value the quality assurance that professionals they employ have achieved and continue to maintain recognised qualifications.
Members doing two things in particualr seems to streamline the process of applying for and renewing accreditation or grading. First, make sure that you are familiar with the requirements of the relevant scheme upfront. Second, especially with regard to renewing, try to track your progress in meeting the requirements over the two or three year period that applies. If you consider that meeting the practice or CPD requirements is not on track for you, ring the Wellington or Sydney office ahead of time (say, up to 6 months ahead) to discuss what options there may be to get the hours you need.
With regard to CPD hours, Resolution Institute staff are likely to point in the direction of Resolution Institute CPD offerings. We are very grateful to the initiatives and efforts of our members in organising networking and CPD events. From NZ, building on the value of the Wellington practice group, we are trialling a practice group online. Practice groups, led by members for members, give the chance to explore issues and challenges with colleagues. In Australia, locally elected chapter and special interest group committees keep “their ears to the ground” to identify stimulating topics and presenters for local face to face events. Resolution Institute staff take pride in finalising and distributing communications about these events and in taking registrations and recording attendees for maintaining CPD records. Attending local events provides members with professional learning in a collegial environment and the opportunity to build professional networking and mentoring relationships over shared refreshments. The social and professional connections that local (and online) practice group and chapter events provide are incredibly important for so many of our members who deliver DR services often in isolation from other DR providers.
To add to local or member-run events, Resolution Institute will continue to offer a program of webinars. Resolution Institute staff keep their eye on trends and emerging areas of interest to identify topics that complement those offered at member-run events. Feedback from members is that webinars have been high quality in both content and delivery. While member-run events provide learning and networking in a collegial environment, webinars augment this offering by providing members with professional learning in their own office or home at the scheduled time or at another time that suits their work or personal circumstances. (People who have registered for a webinar can download the webinar recording and watch it later.)
In 2018, Resolution Institute has settled on a national pricing structure that is consistent for CPD offerings provided as local Chapter events, as practice groups or as webinars. The price is based on an assessment of the resources needed to provide these offerings and to contribute to sustaining a leading professional DR membership organisation of stature. While the introduction of a CPD fee will be new to a small group of members, appropriate pricing of CPD events makes CPD accessible to all our members no matter where they are located and releases other funds for actioning the strategy, to which the Board has committed, to raise Resolution Institute’s profile. On behalf of our more than 3000 members, Resolution Institute has a responsibility to be at the forefront of discussion that shapes the dispute resolution landscape, to lead in developing the vision for the future of DR, to provide cutting edge services to members and to champion high standards of DR practice.
We look forward to your continued commitment to professional learning within the DR sector and to connecting with you through face to face and on-line events.
Best wishes for 2018,
December 2017 >>
Dear members and friends,
In the December issue of Pulse, you will read about the release of the Annual Report >>. As always, when we prepare this “year in review”, we are stunned by the output of the collective efforts of members and staff. In 2017, the 152 members who volunteered for local committees, planned, arranged and hosted 111 local events. Partnering with these dedicated volunteers, Resolution Institute staff prepared and distributed more than 300 event notices and processed more than 1000 registrations for these events. Added to this was a 2017 innovation of a very successful program of 16 webinars with close on 2000 attendances. Resolution Institute is delighted that we now have offerings for those who are attracted to and able to attend in-person gatherings; and we offer similarly high quality learning opportunities for those who prefer flexibility to suit the needs of their learning style, where they live or their work or family responsibilities. This extensive program of rich learning and networking events shows what can be achieved when knowledge, experience and goodwill come together as they do in Resolution Institute through the commitment and collaboration of members and staff. The Annual Report documents a range of other Resolution Institute offerings as well as providing insight into the mission, vision, values and governance of Resolution Institute. Let me encourage you to dip into the Annual Report >>, and feel affirmed, I hope, by your decision to belong to this leading membership organisation of DR professionals.
As well, in the December issue of Pulse, we are bringing you advance notice of three exciting training events to be run early in the new year. Professor Bernie Mayer is once again visiting Australia during February and has agreed to run a workshop - Getting to the heart of conflict - in both Sydney and Melbourne. The workshop will be highly interactive. Mediators of all experience will together explore and reflect on the complex range of needs people bring to the table as well as how we can address long term issues in the short term framework of mediation. You might like to consider taking advantage of the special pre-Christmas discounted fee available for the workshop. Sydney >> and Melbourne >>
We will also soon be distributing a notice about a seminar jointly organised by Resolution Institute and the University of New South Wales, being run by Bernie with his partner Julie Macfarlane exploring the topic of how the legal profession can confront the access to justice crisis. As we know all too well, the cost of legal services now places lawyers out-of-reach for large sectors of the community with a consequence being that increasing numbers of people are coming to court self-represented. A concomitant consequence is the increased efforts to expand the range of professionals and paraprofessionals who can offer different types of legal service. In these circumstances, where the legal profession is not the only provider of personal legal services, what is the appropriate response and what does it mean for the next generation of legal practitioners?
The third of the training offerings highlighted in Pulse is a “working with children intensive” co-presented by Resolution Institute, AMINZ and The Law Society of New Zealand and facilitated by Jill Goldson, award winning researcher and mediation practitioner. The workshop will focus on understanding the impact on children of a family being ‘rearranged’, children’s developmental needs and how to put this knowledge into ethical practice which provides children with a ‘voice’. If you register by 20 December, you can access a Super Early bird discounted rate >>
On behalf of all the staff at Resolution Institute in both Wellington and Sydney, we wish you good cheer over the holiday season and a new year filled with promise and opportunity. We look forward to connecting with you once again in 2018.
Chief Executive Officer
November 2017 >>
As a vital component of the Resolution Institute strategic planning process, the Board and Executive team articulated the values which shape Resolution Institute culture:
- Excellence - Go above and beyond
- Integrity - Always do the right thing
- Collaboration - Together better outcomes
- Innovation - Look for new and better ways
- Diversity - Celebrate individuality.
These values are integral to Resolution Institute achieving our mission of Leading excellence in resolution and of keeping in our sights our aspirational vision of A world where people resolve conflicts well.
The values emerged organically from discussions about perceptions of what is important to our members, to the Board, to staff and to the broader community of dispute and conflict resolvers. Pivotal questions were pondered:
- What is it that has attracted us to work in this field?
- What is it that we are hoping to contribute through our efforts?
- What is it that is important to us in the way that we behave and deliver our services?
- Why do we belong to Resolution Institute?
- Why do we connect with others in the field?
- What is it that motivates us to continue professional learning and maintain our accreditation and grading?
- What is the purpose of Resolution Institute? How do we describe this as a mission?
- What services are consistent with the Resolution Institute mission?
The responses distilled into the Resolution Institute values – values which the Board and the Executive team perceived as being relevant for our members, for our stakeholders and for our staff.
Since we first articulated the values, we have been joined by many new staff members. So it is appropriate that we conducted a staff development activity focussed on exploring Resolution Institute values, developing a shared understanding about them and using these to guide our daily decision-making and enrich our team culture.
Members will be pleased to hear that we, the Resolution Institute staff members expressed a rich and nuanced understanding of our values. Working first in small groups and later as the whole group, as staff we considered “What do each of these values mean to us?” and “How do we demonstrate each of these values in our work?” We thought about some of the tricky situations that arise on a daily basis as apparent mismatches emerge between members’ interests and organisational interests. As a staff team, we put effort and focus on these discussions. We unpacked what these values mean for each of us and then came up with a shared way of describing these values, to augment the published tag lines listed above. We concurred that “to us …
- Excellence means being on a journey to improve our standards of quality, embracing our successes and learning from our challenges
- Integrity means doing what is right, in an authentic, consistent and transparent way
- Collaboration means working towards common goals through teamwork, leading to consensus, even if there is constructive disagreement
- Innovation means momentum, continually questioning and thinking creatively outside of the box, taking small steps to improve our current and our future services, and
- Diversity means acceptance and understanding that people are different.”
The time we spent in conversation about our organisational values will strengthen the way we work together as a team to respond to our members’ needs. Our exploration of the Resolution Institute values spurs us to “live them” on a daily basis.
Our organisational values, if they are to shape our behaviours, deserve us to consider them thoughtfully and to bring them into our awareness. We hope that the Resolution Institute values resonate for you, our members, and that you too might be prompted to reflect on what they mean for the way that you provide your services to your clients.
With best wishes,
Chief Executive Officer
October 2017 >>
In mid-October I attended the Regional Arbitral Institutes Forum (RAIF) conference in Hong Kong. Russell Thirgood, Resolution Institute Director, Chair of the Determinative Committee and Professor Khory McCormick, Resolution Institute Fellow also attended as representatives of Resolution Institute.
RAIF focusses on domestic arbitration within the jurisdictions of each of the member Institutes - Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Malaysia and Australia & New Zealand. The arbitral institutes share information about challenges and initiatives in training, grading, building standards and developing work opportunities. The conference also includes presentations by leaders in arbitration, most notably on this occasion, Mr Neil Kaplan and Professor Anselmo Reyes. Of particular interest, Professor Reyes, referring to 12 jurisdictions in the SE region including Australia, identified and spoke about "six ingredients" which are key for successful arbitration reform. You will be pleased to hear that Australia scores well on these ingredients, enabling us to take a strong lead in incrementally introducing reforms required to support the growth of arbitration.
As well, during October Hayley Jarick (GM Business Operations) attended the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) Business Lunch. Previously I have attended similar events run by the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Sydney and we have been on the visiting list of numerous delegations from China, Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia. These invitations and visits indicate that Resolution Institute is regarded by our regional neighbours as an organisation of significance within the dispute resolution field. Wherever possible, we respond warmly participating as information providers and as learners.
As with RAIF, participating in regional discussions, builds Resolution Institute’s stature both domestically and regionally, offers insights about DR beyond our borders, enriches our understanding about DR issues and provides learning about implementing training, professional learning, accreditation and grading.
Within Australia and New Zealand taking and creating similar opportunities is also essential. Our status as Global Partners of the Global Pound Conference enabled us to take an important leadership role in organising conferences in Sydney and Auckland. In so doing it extended our reach and exposure to the many legal firms whose representatives presented or attended the conferences. Our sponsorship of the Arbitrator of the Year Award in Australia and the Mediator of the Year Award in both Australia and New Zealand exposes Resolution Institute to the 1400 or so representatives of legal firms at the presentation events. The upcoming conference in NZ organised by a partnership between Resolution Institute, Restorative Practices International, Restorative Practices Aotearoa and Victoria University of Wellington and Resolution Institute’s active participation in the Dispute Resolution Industry Forum in Australia, provides an opportunity for Resolution Institute to demonstrate collaborative leadership. Resolution Institute works with other organisations in the DR field for the ongoing growth of dispute resolution as a vital part of the way people access justice within our communities.
Our liaison with government departments in meetings and through consultation about policy and system initiatives means that we are regularly the voice for our members in significant discussions about developments in DR and the implementation of new or revised schemes. Most recently in New Zealand being a voice for members has led to providing training and/or accreditation of Family Dispute Resolution Providers and Restorative Justice practitioners, made possible by funding available from government. In Australia examples of recent active consultation has resulted in Resolution Institute providing advice about the details for mediation to be included in the Farm Debt Mediation Act 2017 and Resolution Institute being prescribed by regulation as an Arbitration provider under the Mining and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. This adds to the raft of other regulations and authorisations, most notably for building and security of payment legislation where Resolution Institute is already a prescribed provider.
The Resolution Institute Strategic Plan 2017-2020 identifies leadership and influence as two of its major pillars. Continuing to commit resources to collaboration and to consultation strengthens these two pillars.
Chief Executive Officer
September 2017 >>
The upcoming period represents an important part of the Resolution Institute yearly cycle. With the annual membership renewal period drawing to a close, we now reach out to you, our members, to extend your commitment to promoting the growth of DR in our communities.
We invite you to consider serving Resolution Institute and your colleagues by nominating, in Australia, to become part of a “local” Committee of a Chapter or Special Interest Group. And on a biannual basis, we invite both Australian and New Zealand members to consider nominating to be a Director of the Resolution Institute Board.
Local committees of Chapters and Special Interest Groups in Australia know at a very practical level, what practitioners need and want. Local committees have their ears to the ground, hearing the challenges that DR professionals face in growing their businesses and in addressing the complex substantive and emotional needs of their clients. Local committees have particular insights about the skills and knowledge that are likely to make a difference in the professional lives of their fellow practitioners.
These insights enable committees to develop varied programs of stimulating topics with engaging presenters.
Committee members organising these presentations benefit themselves from the close collegiate bonds they develop with each other and from the learning that results from designing sessions of value to others. Members attending these presentations value the opportunity to learn face to face and to connect with other practitioners. Even as we move towards increased online learning, such as through webinars, organising and/or participating in live CPD and networking events continues to play an important role in strengthening the Resolution Institute professional community.
For members with interest and skills in governance and strategy, nominating to be a Director of the Board provides a different avenue for involvement in Resolution Institute. While Chapter and Special Interest Groups commit their efforts to local professional learning and collegial support of members, Directors commit their contribution to the membership of the organisation as a whole and its strategic sustainability.
Directors work with a diverse group of colleagues to contribute together to the sound governance of Resolution Institute. Directors are watchful that the services and activities provided are clearly aligned with the Objects defined by the Resolution Institute Constitution and that decision making remains independent of individual or group conflicts of interest.
Directors take their legal and fiduciary responsibilities seriously, ensuring that compliance, employment and work, health and safety responsibilities match or exceed minimum requirements and that Resolution Institute remains financially viable now and in the future. Directors work closely with each other and with the CEO to develop the strategy of Resolution Institute. They ask key questions about the likely directions of dispute resolution in future years, the evolving nature of professional membership organisations and the role of Resolution Institute in a changed social and DR landscape. Directors engage in strategic design to meet current and future needs and to help ensure the longevity of Resolution Institute.
Directors and Committee members are covered under Resolution Institute’s association liability insurance policy and for personal injury while attending meetings and functions on behalf of Resolution Institute.
Within the next month, the office will be distributing notices of annual meetings and the forms to nominate for a role as a Director of the Board or as a Committee member for a Chapter or Special Interest Group. Some current members will nominate to continue in these important roles, bringing their insights and skills gained from experience. We look forward to these members being joined by other Resolution Institute members who will bring fresh insights and a diverse range of skills.
If either the role of Committee member or Director captures your interest and you would like to serve the DR industry in this way, please consider nominating.
Chief Executive Officer
August 2017 >>
I have been reflecting recently on dispute resolution as a profession. For some years, practitioners and others have debated whether it is appropriate that those who practise DR such as mediation, conciliation, arbitration, adjudication, be seen as constituting a profession.
Beyond the everyday wide usage of ‘professional’, the term ‘profession’ often has a more defined meaning. Professions Australia, a peak body for professional associations, includes on its website that:
“A profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others. It is inherent in the definition of a profession that a code of ethics governs the activities of each profession.”
While the debate about whether dispute resolution is a profession continues, it is worth noting that some elements of this definition are clearly evident for dispute resolvers.
In joining and then renewing membership, members commit to abide by the Resolution Institute Code of Ethics which, in its twenty-five clauses, clearly enunciates the conduct and behaviours required of our members. Members not adhering to the Code may be subject to the disciplinary action as required by the Constitution and by internal grading and external accreditation systems. To the extent that a framework exists, it seems that dispute resolvers are ‘a disciplined group of individuals.’
When I review the Code there are three clauses which stand out for me as capturing the major themes within the Code.
Clause 1: “To conduct their professional lives with integrity, honesty and respect for the law and to behave in a way consistent with this in their private lives”
This clause, exhorting members to demonstrate integrity and honesty, encapsulates the overarching message of the entire Code. In later clauses, the Code draws attention to declaring conflicts of interest, maintaining confidentiality and impartiality, being thorough in preparation and transparent in communication. The Code refers to the ‘professional’ business behaviours of having appropriate insurances, fees disclosure and being willing to take feedback. The Code reminds us throughout about the types of well-regarded community behaviours and ‘profession’-specific behaviours that members of the public can expect from Resolution Institute dispute resolvers.
Clause 4: “To offer and undertake only those DR processes for which they are qualified and in circumstances where they have the appropriate experience and/or access to appropriate professional support”
The emphasis of this clause on qualifications and knowledge and skills boundaries, is reiterated in different forms in a number of other clauses, notably including the requirement for ongoing learning and skill development and a requirement for cooperation “in establishing and maintaining the quality, qualifications and standards of DR practice”. The Code pays particular regard to the ‘profession’ as a whole. It is incumbent on us all, to cooperate in promoting standards of practice and qualification for the reputation of the entire ‘profession’. In its definition, Professions Australia emphasises ‘special knowledge and skills’. Dispute resolvers know that the conflict analysis, design, resolution and management skills that they have developed through training and accreditation, are frequently not evident elsewhere in the community. We too often see and hear heart-wrenching stories of people, businesses and communities who do not have the “special” conflict management skills and knowledge that dispute resolvers possess.
Clause 3: “To be faithful to the relationship of trust and confidentiality inherent in the role of DR practitioner”
This particular clause is one of my favourites, as it goes to the heart of what I think it means to be a dispute resolver. Where trust may have broken down elsewhere, people can count on dispute resolvers to be trustworthy. Other clauses paint a rich picture of the relationship dimensions of dispute resolution work, using expressions such as ‘even-handed, respectful and sensitive communications’, ‘participant self-determination’ and ‘assessment of suitability’. The Resolution Institute Code of Ethics also articulates one of the core elements of what practising a ‘profession’ is about: ‘putting the interests of participants above their own’.
Professions Australia continues its definition to include “these codes are enforced by the profession and are acknowledged and accepted by the community.” To what extent is the Resolution Institute Code of Ethics accepted by the community? One measure is the complaints that Resolution Institute receives. While we are pleased that we receive relatively few complaints, the complaints that we do receive are an acknowledgement that clients see dispute resolvers as a ‘profession’. Complaints very often reference the ‘special skills and knowledge’ of the dispute resolution ‘profession’ and quite frequently the Resolution Institute Code of Ethics. That our clients expect behaviour consistent with a code of ethics and consistent with the special knowledge and skills described in grading and accreditation systems, is one small indicator of dispute resolution already being a profession or on a fast track to becoming one.
Chief Executive Officer
July 2017 >>
I wrote to members recently about the review of our operational structure and the departures of two highly capable and respected staff members.
I recalled the bold move in 2013 and then again in 2014 by former Boards to integrate to create a cross-Tasman dispute resolution professional membership organisation with a larger and more influential presence and with a mission, articulated in 2016, as “Leading excellence in resolution”.
To deliver on this mission, Resolution Institute has focussed on growing the skills, knowledge and professionalism of members and new entrants to the field. Over the past two years, the number of full time and part time staff members working from our offices in Wellington and Sydney has grown from 12 to 22, to deliver expanded training and Chapter CPD events, to launch a series of webinars, to increase our social media presence, to liaise more extensively with government and to make criteria based nominations, all underpinned by careful financial management.
As Resolution Institute grows and evolves, our executive team keeps a watchful eye on the skills matrix of our staff, adapting roles and responsibilities that recognise our diverse skills and ensuring we deliver high-quality customer service and value for our members. In this spirit, I am pleased to announce that commencing next week we will implement a new structure.
As often happens, with every exciting opportunity there is also sad news. We are sad to farewell two senior team members, based in the Sydney office, and wish them well on the next step in their career journeys. Our Communications Coordinator, Brian Decelis, who, after 1½ years is returning with his family to Malta and takes up a new position as General Manager with an educational provider. In early August, Ellie Pietsch, our GM – Australia, having been with us for more than 3½ years, will also leave to take up an exciting new opportunity with a change management consultancy. We thank both Ellie and Brian for their vital contributions to Resolution Institute’s endeavours to improve the opportunities for resolving disputes effectively and enhancing access to justice. We wish them all the very best in the next steps in their careers.
The revised structure made possible by these sad departures comprises:
- An expansion of the Executive team from three to four – CEO (Fiona Hollier), General Manager NZ (Catherine Cooper), General Manager AU (Member Operations) and General Manager AU (Business Operations). Members of this team work closely together, guided by the mission, to implement the strategic plan. The CEO has overall responsibility for implementation, for operations and for developing strategic partnerships and each General Manager has operational, tactical, project management and staff supervision responsibilities.
- A reconfiguration of the communications role into two functions: events administration and communications, with a particular focus on services across Australia and New Zealand such as webinars and Pulse.
I am delighted to announce that Hannah Pia Baral, who joined Resolution Institute in December 2016 as Digital News and Information Coordinator, has now been appointed General Manager, AU (Member Operations). Hannah has senior management experience in professional membership organisations and brings a wealth of knowledge about technology, volunteer engagement, knowledge transfer and learning. Hannah will lead a team responsible for membership, accreditation and grading, member communications and Pulse, chapter and member group liaison, member engagement, member insurance program, webinar, member event and conference delivery and database and search directory development.
We look forward to appointing shortly a highly capable person for the second General Manager AU role, who will be responsible for training and assessment, nominations, business development and marketing, sponsorship and corporate partnerships, RI venue hire, trust account, HR and WHS and office operations. We are also currently in the process of recruiting enthusiastic and competent people for the events administration and communications functions.
As well as these restructured roles, we also welcome Wei Vong and Seema Parekh to take up vacancies in the Sydney based Learning Pathways team (following the departures of Winona Wawn and Cassy Ashford); and shortly, we will farewell Kathy Broad from the Wellington office and look forward to welcoming her replacement in Training and Membership services.
When we recruit new members of staff we seek both high-level skills and also strong alignment with the Resolution Institute values of collaboration, excellence, integrity, diversity and innovation. The staff members that Resolution Institute is fortunate to have pride themselves on cooperative teamwork, going above and beyond, aiming always to do the right thing, looking for new and better ways and encouraging individual ideas and strengths.
We value our members’ support as we fill these important roles and the interest and assistance members can offer as new staff take up the challenges of “leading excellence in dispute resolution”.
Chief Executive Officer
June 2017 >>
We are thrilled that so many members have chosen to continue being part of the leading voice in the DR community. The rate of renewals is faster than in 2016, when we first started to track this data.
The quick response to membership renewals is testimony to the appropriateness of the strategy the Board set late 2016 underpinned by five pillars: influence, leadership, engagement, innovation and enablement.
Resolution Institute has become a large (for the sector) and influential organisation. This has translated into a surge of activity and expansion over the last two years.
- We have developed the framework for chapters to increase from five to seventeen, networking and special interest groups (SIGs)
- We have supported the delivery of more than 100 chapter and SIG events in the past year
- We have launched a program of webinars – with 3 delivered so far, attended by more than 600 members and colleagues, and another 15 planned for the end of 2017
- Over the last year we have drafted, designed and distributed over 900 promotional notices for training, Chapter and SIG events and ‘Keeping you informed’ notices and opportunities
- We negotiated an even more competitive Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurance package down to $220 in 2016-17 from $299 in 2015-16
- We have designed a Resolution Institute member logo almost ready for release – keep a lookout for this to be launched in the coming fortnight
- We have completely revised the member search directory, ready for release within about 8 weeks, to aid consumers and DR users to access the DR provider who will suit their needs
- We post daily on social media - Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn- with news items and articles attracting more than 1,200 followers.
- We have established innovative partnerships with two providers to develop on-line mediation platforms customised for Resolution Institute members
- We continue to deliver a packed program of training courses – about 20 in mediation, 10 in conflict management coaching, 4 in probity advice as well as a range of one day CPD offerings
- We encourage high standards of DR delivery through our accreditation of more than 200 DR practitioners per year
- We research, draft and submit Responses to government inquiries at a rate of one per month (on average), drawing on responses to surveys we design and to which we invite different segments of our membership to contribute
- We increasingly receive requests to provide guidance and support to government and industry to help design DR systems and establish DR provider panels
- We review a growing number of service and promotional ideas from businesses and DR providers keen to partner with us
- We have evolved our partnerships with other DR organisations to deliver conferences and events: the recent GPC conference, the recent Industry Forum on Dispute Resolution and late last year the RAIF arbitration conference and the upcoming cross sector conference – Relate, Resolve, Restore - in Wellington NZ, planned presentations at conferences in Singapore (about on-line mediation platform), and RAIF in Hong Kong.
This tells the story of extraordinary busyness and high productivity which has most recently been exemplified by the successful Global Pound Conference events held in Sydney and Auckland at the end of May 2017. These events placed Resolution Institute in the spotlight, as we worked closely with our legal firm partners, Herbert Smith Freehills and Kensington Swan, to deliver engaging conversations between DR providers, potential users of DR and their advisers and to collect valuable data about the perceived and actual delivery of dispute resolution and the part DR contributes to increasing access to justice. Take time to read the items prepared by members who attended the events in Australia >> and New Zealand >> They give weight to my comments in May that Resolution Institute takes a robust strategic approach to investment to ensure strong returns in raising awareness of DR, increasing the profile of Resolution Institute and on promoting the professionalism of our members.
Chief Executive Officer
May 2017 >>
The Australasian Law Awards were held in Sydney Thursday 18 May, 2017. Underpinned by our strategic pillar of Influence and Profile, Resolution Institute initiated the inaugural Arbitrator of the Year and Mediator of the Year in Australia, extending the benefits of our long term sponsorship of the New Zealand Mediator of the Year Award.
Our sponsorship of this annual event resulted in high exposure of Resolution Institute to the more than 700 lawyers and guests from international and local law firms, government and in-house counsel teams. Our sponsorship included naming rights for the two awards, prominent logo display, a full colour page advertisement in the program and tables reserved for Resolution Institute at the front of the room. Joining us at Resolution Institute’s table were supporters and sponsors of Resolution Institute in acknowledgment of their contribution.
The highpoint of our sponsorship was of course, the awards themselves. We are thrilled that 10 of the 11 finalists are Resolution Institute members (see details here >>). Our hearty congratulations to them all on this prestigious achievement. The finalists with the highest aggregated scores from an independent panel of judges were Arbitrator of the Year, Alex Baykitch, and Mediator of the Year, Stephen Lancken. Alex and Stephen exemplify the high professional standards and outstanding contribution to the DR industry of our members.
Sponsoring these Awards is important strategically for Resolution Institute as it helps us grow our influence and profile within the legal, government and commercial sectors. The Awards raise the profile of DR within the legal field, showcasing dispute resolvers as highly trained professionals with an important role to play in our justice system. The practical outcomes that we intend are that law firms and in-house counsel will seek dispute resolvers qualified by Resolution Institute and that Resolution Institute will be named as the referrer of resolvers in dispute resolution clauses in contracts.
Our sponsorship of the Australasian Law Awards is unashamedly focused on external exposure, as indeed is our participation as Global Partners of the Global Pound Conference (GPC). The GPC provides Resolution Institute with extended reach to advisors, parties, DR providers and people influential in the DR industry. As with the Awards, this is a significant opportunity for Resolution Institute to raise the profile of DR and to increase the perception of Resolution Institute as the go-to organisation for dispute resolution information and professionally qualified and recognised dispute resolvers.
The GPC also gives us the chance to support vital data collection about dispute resolution. Dispute resolution advocates and providers have long bemoaned the relative paucity of research data available in the field. The GPC provides the opportunity to augment the excellent work currently done by researchers within universities enabling us to grow our research data which in turn enables us to develop evidence based initiatives and practice.
Resolution Institute is savvy in our exposure investments. We seek strong return on investment, as indeed, you, our members do in your business development and marketing activities. We have our eye firmly on raising awareness of DR, increasing the profile of Resolution Institute and on promoting the professionalism of our members. In so doing we make the ground more fertile for you, our members, to sow the seeds that will grow your client base and the use of your DR services.
Chief Executive Officer
April 2017 >>
I think you might like to hear that Resolution Institute members are keen lifelong learners. Our members are also at ease with e-delivery. The statistics that Resolution Institute collects and monitors show that members soak up information that we supply to their in-boxes.
Resolution Institute regularly surpasses the benchmark rate within the not-for profit sector of 28% opening of written communications (see www.hubspot.com). The opening rate of Pulse, published monthly, hovers at around 40%. The opening rate of the approximate 100 Keeping you informed notices p.a. keeps pace with this as well as our 100 local CPD and networking event notices.
These opening rates demonstrate that the Resolution Institute strategic intent of being an information hub is well aligned with member interests. The question, "Will this information be of value to a significant number of our members?" continues to be a robust criterion for our publishing decisions. It aligns with our mission of "Leading excellence in resolution", as we ensure that our members have access to information about trends, professional learning opportunities, DR news, precedents, research findings and thought leadership. Within Pulse, Legal Updates regularly feature within the top three of opened items. Our sincere thanks to Clayton Utz for their ongoing commitment to providing us with these high quality case notes.
As well, the opening rates of e-communications, provided us with the impetus to publish the Resolution Institute peer reviewed journal, The arbitrator and mediator, in 2016 using the online e-zine publishing tool, issuu. The email announcing its publication had a 47% opening rate. On issuu, the journal has had 360 reads, with 82% of readers accessing it from a desktop, 10% from a smartphone and 8% from a tablet. Available for download and for printing, the journal delivered and accessed in e-format, helps to guarantee its viability and its appeal to the digital natives who are the dispute resolution professionals of the future.
Over the past 12 months, visitors to our website have increased by 14% from 58,906 p.a. to 67,371 p.a. More than half a million pageviews were accessed over the past year with the most read including the mediation training and assessment information pages (with a combined viewership of almost 30,000), CPD tracker and the membership categories information. The directory received more than 8,000 page views. Events, standard DR clauses for use in contracts and the PI/PL Insurance pages were viewed more than 4,000 times. To provide the online resources that our members and increasingly consumers need, we are refreshing the website with streamlined information architecture, increased user-centred navigation, improved visual appeal, greater directory accessibility and responsive design to suit tablet and smartphone access.
In the past 15 months, we have witnessed increases from 50+ to 250+ followers on Facebook, 375 to 575 on LinkedIn and 300 to 360 on Twitter (March 2017). To get a sense of perspective, Resolution Institute followers compare favorably with, for example, the Dispute Resolution Branch, Department of Justice and Attorney-General, Queensland Government and Mediators Beyond Borders International which have respectively, 258 and 410 LinkedIn followers.
Typically Resolution Institute posts twice daily on each of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter providing up to date industry developments, resources, events and news. Our Facebook reaches around 100 users per day with top posts recently including an ABC News story about new farm business debt mediation laws in Queensland and a podcast by US DR practitioner Tammy Lenski about the risks of sweeping conflict under the rug.
Our LinkedIn posts reached an average of 2,600 users per month. The most popular posts over the past three months included an RI mediation training workshop in Wellington, NZ, the call by the NSW Attorney-General to resolve legal disputes away from court and an Infographic on What is mediation? What are the prerequisites that determine a successful mediation?
Our tweets in March attracted over 9,000 impressions and more than 200 profile visits. Since the beginning of the year, the ABC news story on the Queensland farm business debt mediation was a top tweet as were a Cinergy conflict master questions blog post on “necessary conflict” and an RI Fellow, Ian Bailey AM SC being honoured on Australia Day.
Communicating current, topical and interesting information is a hallmark of a go-to leading organisation within an industry. Resolution Institute is committed to taking this role as a professional membership organisation serving the information needs of our members and other industry stakeholders.
Of course, we are alert to the risks of information overload. We know that a small number of our members report this as a problem; and simultaneously, we know that our members, along with the broader community are fast developing skills in scanning communications to identify items of relevance to them.
In our continuous review of our communications strategy, our current focus is on capturing and grouping information for more targeted communications which occur with appropriate frequency. We would love to hear from you, our members, about what you like about our communications and what you would like more of, less of or different. Just drop a line to email@example.com to let us know your thoughts.
Chief Executive Officer
March 2017 >>
In the past 12 months more than 15 government agencies or private regulatory bodies have sought Resolution Institute’s advice about DR schemes being reviewed or developed. Business areas include farm debt, motor vehicle repairs, land valuation, copyright and conduct and compensation for competing land tenure. Resolution Institute has provided advice about:
- designing dispute systems
- developing panels of dispute resolvers
- implementing appropriate levels and systems of training and accreditation and
- preparing schedules of fees that serve the interests of consumers, practitioners and the agency itself.
In addition, Resolution Institute has made submissions to more than 10 government inquiries since the beginning of 2016. This level of activity indicates the maturity of the DR market in Australia and New Zealand, where DR provides options, rather than an “alternative”, for resolving matters. Proudly we acknowledge Resolution Institute’s significant voice in shaping the delivery of DR in our communities and its instrumental role in growing the DR pie for the benefit of members and consumers.
Resolution Institute’s lead in the regional and international conferences of RAIF in Sydney in late 2016, the Resolve, Relate and Restore Conference in Wellington (not yet run as a result of the earthquake) and the Global Pound Conferences in Sydney and Auckland in 2017, provides important exposure for Resolution Institute. In these three instances, Resolution Institute has been pivotal in seeking and gaining the participation of more than 50 law firms or influential leaders who have generously agreed to be presenters. We anticipate that the GPC events will provide exposure of Resolution Institute, as a GPC Global Partner, to more than an additional 100 business leaders and legal advisors. The 2018 National Mediation Conference (being extended to include other DR methodologies) and the Resolve, Relate and Restore Conference (generously sponsored by Family Works, Guided Resolution, and Ministries of Business, Innovation and Employment, of Education and of Justice) provide an extra platform for exposure of Resolution Institute within the DR community.
Resolution Institute’s connections with law firms also have deeper roots. Clayton Utz on a monthly basis prepares legal updates for Pulse, Herbert Smith Freehills and Kensington Swann are providing facilities for the upcoming GPC conferences and firms such as Baker & McKenzie (VIC), Belperio Clark (SA), Corrs, Dentons, Colin Biggers & Paisley, Holman Webb (NSW) and Jackson McDonald (WA) sponsor Resolution Institute Chapter events on a regular or periodic basis and firms such as Bell Gully, Cameron & Co, Holland Beckett and Mc Caw Lewis also provide invaluable sponsorship for NZ events. (A full list is published in our annual report page 4 >>). In Melbourne and Sydney, more than 30 law firms accepted Resolution Institute invitations to attend cocktail events focusing on nomination services in adjudication and arbitration.
Resolution Institute regards you, our members as our best advocates of RI and of dispute resolution. In the March edition of Pulse, we feature initiatives by Chapter and Special Interest Group in South Australia and NSW to reach out to DR stakeholders through partnerships with the SA Business Commission and with Holman Webb in Sydney. These exemplify Resolution Institute collective member efforts over many years to engage with potential clients or referrers of work, in their business development activities recognising that “a rising tide lifts all boats”.
When organisations merge or rebrand, their risk analysis usually includes potential detriment to reputation or brand awareness, as indeed the Board’s analysis has done for Resolution Institute. Resolution Institute is heartened by the evidence that we continue to have high visibility to government and business organisations, that our members continue to reach out into the community and that our profile is expanding in ways that offer opportuniies to exert influence in shaping and growing DR opportunities across Australasia.
Chief Executive Officer
February 2017 >>
The GPC Sydney and Auckland events are just around the corner. There will only be 40 seats for each stakeholder group. We expect that many of our members, particularly those focused on commercial disputes, will be keen to get a seat in the room at a table with people who could be future clients to participate in this important worldwide conversation about how matching DR to meet client needs. The individual sponsorship packages provide a marketing advantage which includes a place for you and one for one of your clients, as well a range of other benefits. We encourage you to think seriously about demonstrating your commitment to shaping the future of DR by supporting this event in Sydney >> and in Auckland >>
Resolution Institute is one of nearly 60,000 not-for-profits registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) out of an estimated 600,000 NFP organisations in Australia. The NFP sector employs approximately 890,000 people and contributed about $43 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP). Presenting on making conflict between Chair and CEO healthy at the Association Forum’s CEO and Chair Symposium attended by some 50 NFPs, I was reminded again about the importance of culture. At Resolution Institute, we have a culture of greeting conflict positively and seeing the opportunities it provides for future growth and innovative solutions. This constructive ethos and the skills that flow from it, provide Board and staff with a diverse set of tools for effectively addressing challenges and enriching relationships. Feedback suggested that this is not universally the case with NFPs and that there is considerable scope for RI members to consider developing processes and products for this sector.
The varied conversations at the Flinders University conference on Reforming Civil Justice included questions about the unique role of each part of the DR system. What is it that Courts do that no other part of the system can do? Deliver solutions to disputing parties? Enforce solutions? How can society provide access to justice for all people in our community? Increasing use of online dispute resolution (ODR) may be part of the jigsaw. In preparation for the panel discussing ODR, I read the HiiL trends report on ODR and the Courts. I found it to be an easy and informative read which paints a picture about innovative ODR approaches in many different jurisdictions. We have included a link to it in Pulse as I think many of you will find it interesting reading that helps you to stay informed about our area of work >>
The ICC mediation competition in Paris once again gave teams from universities across the world the chance to practise their skills and learn more about mediation. Coached by Resolution Institute members the Australian and New Zealand teams showed a depth of knowledge and skill which is evidence of the very strong DR focus in this part of the world. Modelled on the ICC competition, the Australian Chamber of Commerce is launching an Asia-Pacific competition. Resolution Institute is pleased to be providing prizes of mediation training to winning teams. As in Paris, this competition will be looking for experienced mediators to role play and to judge the competition. If you are interested in volunteering for this unique experience, consider signing up by 21 March >>
Chief Executive Officer
January 2017 >>
What a great start to the year to be able to extend our hearty congratulations to two of our members who have been recognised for their contribution in DR. Life member David A R Williams QC was admitted to the New Zealand Order of Merit as a Knight Companion for services to international law and arbitration. David was also a founding board member of LEADR NZ. In Australia, member and highly experienced adjudicator and arbitrator, John Murray AM has been appointed to conduct a significant review of security of payments legislation in each jurisdiction across Australia. Resolution Institute gives its best wishes to both David and John.
Global Pound Conferences in Sydney and Auckland
We are becoming more and more excited about the upcoming GPC events which are being held in Sydney and Auckland on 29 and 31 May respectively. As you may already know, the goal of the Global Pound Conference (GPC) Series is to create a conversation about what can be done to improve access to justice and the quality of resolution services around the world in civil and commercial dispute. Resolution Institute is proud to be a Global Partner of the GPC Series.
The GPC Series will play host to more than 5,000 people, with local events in up to 40 cities, across 31 countries worldwide, over a period of 18 months. The local events will gather data intended to enable the dispute resolution market and all participants to consider the current attitudes to and usage of dispute resolution and to explore how to adapt and extend DR services to align better to disputants’ needs.
Each event brings together key opinion leaders, leading corporations, DR providers and other stakeholders who regularly participate in the resolution of civil and commercial disputes. The line-up of panelists that we are expecting in both Australia and New Zealand will make both programs compelling.
Our thanks to the members of the Local Organising Committees in Sydney and Auckland for volunteering their time to assist in organising these events. We are finalising the programs for the events scheduled for 29 May in Sydney and 31 May in Auckland and registrations will open soon. Registration numbers will be closely allocated and monitored to ensure a spread across the five major stakeholder groups – parties, advisors, influential individuals and organisations, facilitative providers and determinative providers. Keep an eye on the Sydney >> and Auckland >> pages to for the latest updates.
Resolution Institute is currently negotiating to provide valuable sponsorship for a commercial Mediation Competition being organised by the Australian Chamber of Commerce. Scheduled to be held in Melbourne in July, this will be the first regional mediation competition in the Asia-Pacific region conducted along much the same lines as the competition organised by the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris annually. Resolution institute is advertising the opportunities for members to volunteer as coaches and as competition judges. We encourage our members to share your expertise to develop the skills of the future generation of mediators and lawyers.
In the meantime, we would like to give our best wishes to the Australasian teams taking part in the ICC Competition being held in the first week of February in Paris. Sixty-six university teams from 33 countries will take part in this biggest annual educational event devoted exclusively to international commercial mediation. We hope there will be a repeat of last year’s clean sweep for Australasia with teams from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), University of Auckland and Monash University who, coached by Resolution Institute members, took the top three spots in the competition, beating law schools from ‘Ivy League’ and other prestigious universities. We keep our fingers crossed!
Finally, if you have not already done so I encourage you to leaf through the 2016 Annual Report. The Report tells the story of a remarkable year for Resolution Institute. As well, for stimulating articles about DR practice and issues, find time to read the arbitrator & mediator. Reading articles of this quality helps us to sharpen our skills and understanding to ensure that we deliver the best quality DR services that we can. While you are in the ‘Members’ area of this website (where both these publications are stored), peruse the other resources available noting the ones you will come back to.
Chief Executive Officer