VADR CPD – Nichole Cullen: the role of humour in Mediation

Mediation provides a serious forum for the resolution of challenging issues between disputing parties. It’s no laughing matter. Or can it be? In this contagiously humorous presentation, Nicole will reflect on funny moments that have arisen in mediation over her two decades of practice and the appropriateness or otherwise of her response. Covering topics such as the mediator’s opening statement, the role of the mediator, challenges with support people and managing high-conflict personalities, this presentation promises insights that will hopefully be forgotten by the end of the session. Nicole’s presentation will flirt with neurology, psychology, sociology and physiology, in no particular order.

Nicole Cullen has a very serious background as a commercial litigation lawyer. Armed only with a wardrobe of dark-grey suits, she progressed from a medium-sized law firm to one of the big four firms, where she managed large-scale litigation cases and learnt how to apply numbers consecutively to documents. From there, the excitement grew as she worked for as a lawyer for a bank (described by many as a ‘double whammy’). Nicole was then coerced into managing a ‘hornet’s nest’ complaints resolution scheme in the finance sector, where she became adept at responding to media enquiries. From there, she plodded through five years as Deputy Chairperson of a federal tribunal. Having tried just about every other alternative, she ultimately established her own consulting practice, Cullaborate. Finally answerable to no-one but herself, she realised that humour was something to rejoice about and embrace rather than to hide from. Artfully finding the light side of a situation is a craft Nicole believes can be properly applied in mediation.

Event details are as follows:

Date:     Monday 27 November 2017

Time:     5.45 pm (registration/socialising) for 6.15pm to 7.15pm

Venue:   Coopers Inn, cnr Exhibition & Little Lonsdale Sts, Melbourne

Cost:      Free for VADR Members (non-members $25) 

In honour of the festive season, wine, beer and orange juice as well as finger food will be provided.  Other drinks are available downstairs.

The event carries one CPD point. If you would like to attend, please email

What s18C of the Racial Discrimination Act means to Conflict Resolution

This is a VADR event – Notice for the information of Mi RMAB members in Victoria

Presentation:  6:15pm–7:15 pm

Cost:         No charge VADR members     and   $25 Non-members


RSVP:       by Monday 16 October 2017

Controversial s18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was instituted over 20 years ago to deal with situations where racism produces a material disadvantage for someone. This may be a factor in a conflict dealt with by mediation, such as when a person is denied a promotion, treated differently at school or university or rejected as a tenant for a rental property. Currently some politicians are seeking to water down or repeal the section altogether. Caroline Counsel will explore the competing tensions of s18C and freedom of speech through an analysis of case law.  She will also explore the larger themes of language and intent and what that means for us in our varying methods of dispute resolution.

Presenter is Caroline Counsel.

Caroline has been a family lawyer for more than 30 years and established her firm, Counsel Family Lawyers: Better Families, Brighter Futures, in 2004. She is an Accredited Family Law Specialist with the Law Institute of Victoria and an FDRP.  An Independent Children’s Lawyer for more than 15 years, Caroline is a Past President of the Law Institute (2011) and holds the Chair of the Family Violence Portfolio.  Ahead of the Royal Commission, Caroline formed a Family Violence Taskforce chaired by Chief Magistrate Peter Lauristen, now considered to be one of the primary advisory groups to Government. She is one of the inaugural board members of the Victorian Legal Admissions Board, inaugural board member of the Australian Association of Collaborative Professionals (May 2016) and was appointed by government to the Family Violence 10 Year Industry Taskforce.


What do family lawyers really think about FDR?

VADR Event – Susan Hamilton-Green

In 2015, Susan Hamilton-Green, family lawyer and a specialist in Family Law (LIV) since 1990, surveyed about 110 practitioners to explore what family lawyers really thought about Family Dispute Resolution. Their responses and additional comments provided a good indication of the overall approach of family lawyers to FDR and what they see as significant when making recommendations to their clients.

In this presentation, Susan discusses her findings, including the many factors family lawyers take into consideration when advising and directing their clients to FDR and the areas highlighted as important for FDR practitioners in their ongoing relationships with family lawyers.

A registered FDR practitioner, trained arbitrator and conflict coach, Susan has been a Specialist in Mediation (LIV) since 1993, provides mediation training, coaching and supervision, undertakes private mediation, and conferences for FDRs through VLA. She is a lecturer for the College of Law, a principal of InTandem Legal Services and the principal of Creative Family Law Solutions.

Cost:               $25 – Free for VADR Members

The event carries one CPD point. Finger foods will be provided and drinks are available at bar prices. To register, email