10 May 2022

MEDIA RELEASE: Specialised family resolution dispute clinic an Australian first

Gold Coast based mediator and academic, Associate Professor Libby Taylor, is one of 8 outstanding dispute resolution practitioners recognised for their work with the recent 2022 annual Resolution Institute Certificate awards. It was her unique and innovative way of practising Family Dispute Resolution that saw her take out the much-coveted award at a virtual ceremony on May 3.  

Initially Libby practised as a lawyer until becoming an academic. Libby undertook her first mediation training course in 1997 at the Bond University Dispute Resolution Centre. Libby has been teaching and designing mediation and other dispute resolution subjects for many years in the Law Faculty at Bond University on the Gold Coast.

“I’m very attracted to mediation as a process and particularly family dispute resolution which I’m passionate about because it is a better option to resolve conflict than going through the courts. I love teaching dispute resolution and am thrilled every time I see a lightbulb moment as students learn the skills they need to effectively interact with people. All of us who have taken that step of moving from lawyers to mediators and family dispute resolution practitioners rethink how we relate to people in a positive way,” said Libby.

Libby has been at the forefront of designing, developing, and implementing a Graduate Certificate in Family Dispute Resolution, and a specialist Master of Laws in Family Dispute Resolution. In an Australian first in 2017, Libby opened a Family Dispute Resolution Clinic at the university where separating parents could participate in family dispute resolution. Students conduct these sessions in the Clinic under the supervision of accredited family dispute resolution practitioners.

“Students gain first-hand experience in family dispute resolution and work with real clients in a real environment which is so crucial to developing their professional and ethical identities. It’s hard for students to get supervised workplace hours as some separating couples don’t want others sitting in on what are very personal matters, so this works and works well,” said Libby.

“The clinic has been closed for the last two years because of Covid but there are big plans for the reopening on June 1st this year. It’s crucial to the success of the clinic that clients feel reassured and comfortable that their confidentiality is protected. Feedback from clients has been very supportive and positive in allowing students to practise family dispute resolution and mediation skills under the supervision of qualified and accredited family dispute resolution practitioners,” said Libby

“Students are given training and instruction before they see clients and are debriefed straight after each session. This ensures that what worked and, importantly, what didn’t and what might work better next time are canvassed openly. This service is also able to offer affordable dispute resolution to people for whom other avenues might be financially out of the question,” said Libby 

“This award means a lot to me as I don’t seek out attention, but I’ve been doing this work for a long time and it’s nice to feel appreciated. That the work we are doing here is being recognised and acknowledged is wonderful. I have some good ideas about how we support students and mediators in the future to make the whole experience an even more significant learning opportunity as we reopen the clinic. It is also very rewarding to offer a service to people to assist them in making good parenting decisions about their children and to help them to develop a co-parenting relationship,” said Libby.

All eight awardees were announced at a virtual award ceremony held on May 3, 2022. The ceremony can be viewed here