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

Commercial Mediation – what we can learn from the New Zealand experience

Monday 10 July, Melbourne

Join the Mediation & Facilitative Special Interest Group for this presentation by Victoria University of Wellington’s Grant Morris reviewing the current state of New Zealand’s commercial mediation market in light of his empirical study of mediators, gatekeepers, and users in the area of private commercial mediation. Grant will share the conclusions of his research and attendees at the session will be able to consider to what extent the findings of this important empirical research resonate with the Australian experience.

Grant will also explore strategies to grow commercial mediation in New Zealand and attendees can consider these and others for increasing the use of commercial mediation in Australia and elsewhere. Strategies include:

  • Greater promotion to potential users of mediation
  • Increased opportunities for budding commercial mediators to gain experience
  • Introducing mandatory mediation for commercial disputes before the Courts

About the presenter Dr Grant Morris

Grant is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Victoria University of Wellington. He joined the Faculty in 2002 after working as a negotiator for the Office of Treaty Settlements. His research and teaching specialty areas are New Zealand legal history and negotiation and mediation. Grant is the author of Law Alive: The NZ Legal System in Context (OUP), Prendergast: Legal Villain? (VUP) and numerous articles and chapters.

Recently Grant has been exploring the nature of the NZ commercial mediation market and the styles of mediation used in NZ employment disputes. Grant is the recipient of a Victoria University ‘Excellence in Teaching’ Award. He is an accredited mediator with Resolution Institute. Grant helped to create the SibSupportNZ programme to support young people with disabled siblings and has been the lead facilitator for this programme since 1997.