Learning & events

Webinar | Child Inclusive and Developmentally Focused Dispute Resolution: Two evidence-based methods

with Jennifer McIntosh

Thursday 24 September 2020 | Online

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (AEST)

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Child Inclusive and Developmentally Focused Dispute Resolution: Two evidence-based methods

In this webinar, award winning researcher, Professor Jennifer McIntosh will describe the rationale for applying a developmental perspective to family-law dispute resolution, and detail two evidence-based approaches to this work, covering infancy through to late adolescence. The principles of Child Inclusive Mediation and of the Young Children in Divorce and Separation program are outlined.

The online training for both, housed on the Children Beyond Dispute website, is discussed.

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About the speakers

Professor Jennifer McIntosh, Ph.D. AM

Jennifer McIntosh is a clinical and developmental psychologist, family therapist, and researcher.

In her research fields, Jennifer has specialised in the development of assessment methods and interventions for separated families in high conflict. In 2019, she received national recognition for her work, through the award of Member of the Order of Australia, for significant contributions to developmental psychology. In 2011, she was recipient of the AFCC Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award. This international award recognizes outstanding research and/or research achievements in the field of family law and divorce.

She is known internationally for the development of the Child Inclusive Mediation process, supported by a four-year, prospective study of outcomes, since replicated in the USA. Through this work, McIntosh has had a substantial impact on both policy and practice formation in Australian and international Family Law. Her family law work is now housed at www.childrenbeyonddispute.com

Jennifer continues her family trauma research now as Professor of Research, The Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University. She is also Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Deakin University, and Fellow of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute.

Jennifer McIntosh has a long history in developing and testing interventions that promote better parenting in the face of conflict and change.

Her most recent study, a random allocation, 5 site pilot, tested a new education intervention for separated parents of very young children. The study drew on findings from secondary analysis of the LSAC data, exploring outcome for infants of various post-separation parenting factors (McIntosh, Smyth, Kelaher, 2010/2013). Targeting those factors implicated in emotional regulation difficulties, the YCID intervention (Young Children and Infant Development) is a brief intervention given through conversation with parents, in the context of dispute resolution processes. It promotes the making of ‘developmentally supportive parenting plans’, through emotional availability and responsiveness of parents to their baby or toddler, and the management of co-parenting conflict in the service of the baby’s emotional security. Early pilot findings are encouraging (McIntosh & Tan, in press), and independent replication studies are underway.

McIntosh has a keen interest in assessment and measurement in complex clinical and population level systems. She authored the Family Law DOORS (Detection of Overall Risk) screening tool (2012), commissioned by the Attorney General’s Department for use throughout the Australian Family Law system. The ten domain tool is the first to systematically screen the safety and well-being of parents, infants and children as they move through the family law system. Analyses from the first 700 cases conducted at Relationships Australia (SA) is currently under review, with 5 related studies in train, in collaboration with Professor Yvonne Wells, La Trobe University.

Related professional development initiatives include the highly acclaimed Children in Focus Program, in association with La Trobe University. Multiple publications and multi-media resources have stemmed from this (see bibliography for detailed list). Her related parent education booklet, Because it’s for the kids: Building a secure base for parenting after separation, is widely used throughout Australia in courts, and in education programs with separating parents in high conflict. It has been translated into French and German and is now distributed by the International Social Service Geneva, to separated parents throughout Europe.

Jennifer has played a leading role in national and international research and associated professional development programs. Key stakeholders include the Australian Attorney General’s Department, Family and Community Services, The Office for the Status of Women, and the Family Court of Australia, the UK Family Justice Council, AFCC (USA).


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