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"Mediation is SO much better than court"

In Australia mediation is being suggested as the way forward to deal with the abuse of elderly members of the community.

Using similar mediation services as those employed in complex child abuse cases (where the success rate has been upwards of 80%) National Legal Aid Chairman Graham Hill said the same process could be useful particularly when there are financial, contact or property issues to be addressed.

Hill said (in a comment Northwest Mediation endorses) that mediation “is so much better than court because court destroys relationships …whereas mediation tries to enhance relationships in a family setting…We have put to the attorney general’s department that this service could be applied to cases of elder abuse, which can be quite sensitive with family involved.”

In Sydney at Tuesday’s elder abuse conference Christian Porter, the attorney general for Australia announced a nationwide plan dealing with the abuse of the elderly which follows recommendations in the report by the a report by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) published in June this year

Claims arising from the conviction of former USA Olympic Gymnastics team coach Larry Nassar for multiple offences of child abuse against Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, Twistars and others are ongoing.

In an email obtained by Fox news John Engler, the interim President of Michigan State University, has said he wants to return to mediation to deal with the outstanding claims. We reported in previous blogs how mediation could help in these circumstances and now it seems following Nassar’s conviction the University is keen to get back to mediation to resolve the claims against it.

Mediation can lead not only to financial settlements but can help give closure to all those involved with the responsible authorities able to accept their role (should they agree to do so) in any alleged cover up.

Engler apparently said in the email “I fervently hope, a just resolution that helps the survivors bring some closure to this horrific chapter in their lives”

The other coaches implicated in the claims were asked to refrain from comment as was Michigan State while the prosecution was ongoing, the University is now going over the 45,000 pages of documents provided to them by the prosecutors prior to entering formal mediation talks.

Over in my kind of town, Chicago, the Waukegan Police Department who have been undergoing a diversity training initiative as a result of a mediated settlement following the shootings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge in 2016. In the initial phase of the mediated settlement all the city’s departments received training but the new initiative is aimed purely at the police force. The mayor Sam Cunningham said "As opposed to trying to worry about the Building Department, the Fire Department, public works, let's focus in on one aspect," The previous mediated settlement included efforts to increase diversity in public services and cultural awareness.

The training sessions will focus on diversity, ethics conflict management, all good core values for officers but also key in mediation itself. Recent training from the same company focused on those emotions and misinterpretations of actions which can lead to suicide, wrongful arrests and divorce.

Human Resources consultant Rick Harris said "We're really driving home the concept of bias, unconscious bias…We all have that. It's the bias that helps keep them alive on the street, but it's the same bias that might make them profile (an individual)." The courses will hep identify when an officer is able to use force, the use of recordings from body cameras and methods to diffuse potentially damaging and dangerous encounters.

The Mayor added that the training was more effective due to Harris’ continued sessions “drilling in all these good habits, getting rid, maybe, whatever bad habits there may be."

One of the skills in mediation is the use of encouragers, those small words or noises which draw more out of the party while they recount their side of events or put forward potential solutions.

I was reminded one of the greatest users of encouragers by hostage negotiator Suzanne Williams during her appearance on Radio 4’s The Museum of Curiosity. Suzanne referred to house keeper and tea provider in chief in Father Ted, Mrs Doyle as portrayed by Pauline McLynn, not that I’m suggesting that in all mediations you should repeatedly say “ah go on” but careful use such small encouraging sounds are part and parcel of the mediators armoury.

Over in Ghana the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has been praised for his leadership in mediating efforts to help end the unrest in Togo. He has met with representatives from various sections of the dispute including the leaders of Togo’s opposition parties and the President of Togo President Faure Gnassingbe (who has been in power since 2005 and was preceded by his father who ruled for 38 years).

Issues arise around the length of term the president has served in office which was previously limited by Togo’s constitution.

Referring to the thousands of Togolese who had taken part in violent demonstrations Professor Edmund Nminyem Delle of the Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) praised the Ghanaian premier and said that a mediated settlement would avoid demonstrations which whilst to be expected in a democratic country parties must avoid such protests being “unbridled protest and violent” which could lead to “the loss of precious lives, destruction of property and general insecurity…We must reduce the tendency of using violent means to resolve political problems or the heavy arm of the State security to deal with political opponents and suppress divergent views in a democratic environment”.

We’ve mentioned before why mediation is a great way to deal with neighbourhood disputes but it seems that although some parties are keen to take part others cannot be drawn.

Head of territory sales for Google in UK and Ireland Koert Holtgreve has made harassment complaints against his neighbour over what was originally the issue of a 4 cm encroachment by his new wall at Holtgreve’s Peckham pad.

He said that the neighbour, Janet Highland, “has also been given numerous opportunities through mediation to sit down and try to amicably resolve any differences there might be. She has unfortunately declined all offers.”

The wall, only six meter’s long is alleged by Highland to be over the boundary line. As is so often the way in boundary disputes there is a little history between the neighbours Highland having been sent a harassment notice for shouting abuse at the Holtgreves and she lodged a complaint against the Holtgreves for playing Frank Sinatra too loud in the afternoon (could it have been old blue eyes’ version of Killing me softly or Play it Loud!).

Despite accepting that legal action would be too expensive Highland has not opted to accept the invitation to mediate at a far lower sum. Northwest Mediation stands ready to assist.

Mediation is cheaper, quicker and less stressful than running any case to court, it can help with any dispute whether it's a noisy neighbour, an employment issue, the sale at an under value of a property, family issues, commercial disputes or inheritance arguments contact Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at

neighbour mediation; commercial dispute resolution; commercial dispute; corporate dispute; commercial mediator; family mediation; inheritance mediation; property mediator;

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