Two Weeks in Australia
I just finished a series of seven seminar days in three cities in Australia: Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. Mostly I spoke to highly experienced professionals about managing high conflict people in legal disputes and workplace disputes. These included mediators, arbitrators, human resource professionals, managers, government agency administrators, disabilities commissioners, judges and others. They generally agreed with me that we are seeing an increase in high conflict behavior (they spell it behaviour) across society. When I showed them the statistics from the large United States study about personality disorders, they said that they are probably experiencing the same prevalence in Australia.
In Canberra and Sydney, I spoke for the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia. Canberra is the nation’s capital, so that many managers with government agencies also attended the seminar. In Canberra, I had the honor of being introduced by the Deputy Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia (yes, all of Australia). He mentioned characteristics he had observed in high conflict cases and he emphasized some conclusions which were a perfect introduction to the skills I presented throughout the day. In Sydney, I was also introduced by a retired high court justice, who has been instrumental in promoting alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in Australia. I also spoke to the Australian “National Mediation Conference,” which is held every other year.
In Melbourne, I had the opportunity to speak to over 100 managers and human resource professionals for their State Services Authority, which provides support to a wide variety of their federal government agencies. The State Services Authority has prepared a guidebook for dealing with high conflict behaviour, which is getting a lot of attention in other government agencies. (In the photo I am standing with the key organizers of the lecture and workshop I gave for the SSA.) Then, for three days I provided a course in managing high conflict personalities at Monash University to law students and practicing professionals, including several disabilities commissioners. While there I also had a tour of the Victoria State Supreme Court Building – by one of the Justices of the state Supreme Court!
One of the issues that arose is the problem of limited consequences for high conflict behavior in the workplace, because Australia has so many protections for employees. However, we discussed ways to still manage them and require behavioral improvement. While Australia has not suffered the economic recession of the United States and Europe, they are starting to have job cut-backs, especially in government employment. So they said the timing of these seminars on managing upset emotions and conflict in the workplace was particularly helpful.
Overall, I was treated extremely well while in Australia, and quite impressed with their judicial support for alternative dispute resolution and seeking solutions for managing high conflict people in legal and workplace dispute resolution. I look forward to future contacts – and visits!
About Bill Eddy William A. (“Bill”) Eddy, L.C.S.W., J.D. is a family law attorney, therapist and mediator, with over thirty years’ experience working with children and families. He is the Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego, California. He is also the President of the High Conflict Institute, which provides speakers, trainers and consultants on the subject of managing high-conflict people in legal disputes, workplace disputes, healthcare and education. He has taught Negotiation and Mediation at the University of San Diego School of Law and he teaches Psychology of Conflict at the Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law. He is the author of several books, including:
For more information about Bill Eddy, please visit: www.HighConflictInstitute.com.