The Challenges of Elder Mediation: Part I

Elder Mediation

The Challenges of Elder Mediation

Part I: Foundational Concepts

D.M.

This is Part I of a two part series of posts by D.M., a current JD student at Bond University.

Elder mediation is an important and growing topic in dispute resolution. This area of dispute resolution is important because Australia’s elderly population has been projected to grow to 8.8 million by 2057 (22% of the population). This is an increase from 3.8 million (15 % of the population) today. With such a dramatic increase, the demand for elder mediation seems sure to grow exponentially in the future.

‘Elder’ can be defined as ‘a person of greater age or seniority’. In an Australian context, this might be defined as a person who is aged 75 years or over. The highest prevalence of abuse within this age group is from the age of 80–85 years. Abuse of various forms is an important driving force behind the emergence of elder mediation.[1] Abuse can manifest as financial, emotional, physical or sexual abuse or neglect.

Why mediate elder disputes?

Elder mediation, when used correctly, can be an effective preventative process for current or potential elder abuse. Mediation efficacy decreases as abuse severity increases. Thus, mediation at an earlier stage of abuse or neglect will act as a more effective preventative measure. Furthermore, elder parties often prefer mediation over litigation as it is a more discreet method of alleviating an abusive situation and it is easier to maintain the relationships between the parties.[2]

Elder parties may prefer to mediate because it is less confrontational than litigation and confronting an abuser, especially when they are also the caretaker of the elder party, can strain the relationship if the matter proceeds to litigation. Thus, mediation retains the relationship between both parties while keeping the process confidential, which further works to retain these potentially decades-old relationships.[3]

Mediation is also preferable from an ethical standpoint because one of its purposes is for the elder party (generally the weaker party) to gain self-determination. Self-determination in elder mediation is achieved by not only informing the elder party of their rights, but also helping them achieve some independence in relationship with the other party. If the mediator correctly establishes the elder’s capacity, this may also correct any ageism biases and other incorrect perceptions of this issue.

Features of elder mediation

The parties to elder mediation are often family members, friends, fellow residents of aged care homes, caregivers or any combination of these roles. As a result, the mediator must consider questions such as whether parties should meet separately with the mediator or who should be present at each stage of the mediation. Power imbalances may arise in elder mediation due to the potential existence of abuse or neglect, combined with the fact that the perpetrators in the majority of elder abuse cases are the children or caretakers of the elderly party.

The circumstances of elder mediation may pose a challenge to the focus mediation places on self-determination. Power disparities may also create a real or perceived incapacity of the elder party to enter mediations.[4] Capacity is central to a process based on the principle of self-determination which requires parties to make their own informed choices on settlement options. The issue of capacity can be influenced by mental  or physical health problems (both chronic or temporary) or ageism.

My next blog post will examine the challenges of elder mediation in more detail and recommend some possible strategies and solutions.

[1] Joan Braun, ‘Elder Mediation: Promising Approaches and Potential Pitfalls’ (2013) 7 Elder Law Review 1, 5.

[2] Alexandra Crampton, ‘Elder Mediation in Theory and Practice: Study Results From a National Caregiver Mediation Demonstration Project’ (2003) 56 Journal of Gerontological Social Work 423, 425.

[3] Braun, ‘Elder Mediation’, 4.

[4] Rebekah Doley, ‘Accommodating Common Mental Health Issues in Mediation’ (2016) 27 ADRJ 84, 85-6.

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New Milestones for the Australasian Dispute Resolution Research Network

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It is now nearly five years since the Australasian Dispute Resolution Network blog was founded in late 2013.

Since that time we have now built up a loyal following of over 10,000 readers, plus additional subscribers through our Twitter presence.    To all of you who have supported us, thankyou!

Associate Professor Becky Batagol, who has served  tirelessly as our Editor-in-Chief for the past five years,  has handed stewardship of the blog to another long-time supporter of the Network,  Dr Olivia Rundle.

As always, the blog remains the primary means of communicating the work of the Australasian Dispute Resolution Network.    We consciously do not maintain any other burdensome administrative structures, such as a formal membership structure or mailing lists.  You can read more about our policies here.   We welcome and encourage participation from anyone wishing to disseminate research about dispute resolution and especially encourage PhD students and emerging academics to participate – and we are not limited to Australasia.   If you would like to become a guest blogger, or a permanent member, please contact Olivia.

We look forward to this next phase of evolution for the Network and the blog,  thank Becky for her hard work and welcome Olivia!

Multicultural Implications in Mediation: Part III

Multicultural Implications in Mediation

Part III: Solutions and Strategies

Niharika Ahuja

This is Part III of a three part series of posts by Niharika Ahuja. Niharika holds an LLM in dispute resolution with high distinction from Bond University. She is currently training as a family mediator in Alberta, Canada.

In order for there to be progress in implementing a culturally sensitive approach to mediation, there must be changes and improvement at all stages of the mediation process. This would involve, first, being mindful of the type of mediators that are selected to deal with multi-cultural disputes and, second, training the mediators to become competent in different types of cultural experiences. These two approaches would need to be supported by clear guidelines or requirements within the mediation training and accreditation systems.

Mediator selection is particularly important in this discussion. The type of mediator that is chosen to deal with the parties’ conflict plays an important role in how the emotions, mindset or cultural background of the parties are understood and accommodated. Selecting the appropriate mediator can also help to bridge the cultural differences between parties.[1] Harold Abramson argues, for instance, that a mediator’s credentials should include being trained to deal with cultural differences that may arise in a particular dispute and having the ability to approach the mediation in a way that fits the cultural needs of the parties.[2]

Training and accreditation

Training and accreditation processes also play an important role. In Australia, there have been inclusions of cultural sensitivity in the Practice Standards for the National Mediation Accreditation System (NMAS). In spite of this, studies show that there has been insufficient research done on how mediators can be culturally trained.[3]  Siew Fang Law found that the reason for this is due to the complex nature of culture itself, the lack of the practitioners’ or students’ motivation to deal with the complexity of cultural issues and, finally, the fact that the predominant expert theorists are male, white and from middle-class backgrounds.[4]

However, Law also posed some interesting suggestions on how these hurdles could potentially be overcome. The strongest suggestion was that intercultural training programs should be included and implemented in the accreditation training for mediators.[5] She proposes the following questions and challenges that the mediation training providers should consider:

  • Is the current mediation training program effective in producing culturally sensitive practitioners?
  • How many hours of training should be devoted to the intercultural component?
  • Are the existing mediation trainers capable of teaching intercultural mediation?
  • Are there sufficient and appropriate intercultural training resources?
  • How should intercultural mediation competence be assessed?

Competence and professionalism

The final element of this picture is mediator competence and professionalism. The ideal mediator would have to adapt and adjust the mediation according to the mix of cultures that are present in the session. However, in order for this to be possible, the mediator would be required to play an active and responsive role. As mediators have the duty to be a neutral and non-interventionist figure, this intervention would have to be dealt with cautiously. The mediator would have to exercise judgment in understanding different cultural experiences through a party’s behavior or emotions and determining how to adjust the mediation accordingly.

Law also made a list of four qualities a culturally aware and sensitive mediator should ideally possess.[6] The first was for the mediator to be self-aware and willing to learn. Secondly, the mediator ought to have awareness of the importance of reflection, in order to have the ability to question his or her cultural and practical assumptions and seek feedback on these assumptions from third parties. This would allow for mediators to recognise and understand the perspectives of others, rather than simply assuming or imposing their own viewpoint.

The third quality would be for the mediator to understand cross-cultural communication patterns and how to use interpreters and translators. This is important, as it would allow the mediator to understand how the parties in the mediation communicate and thereby avoid any misunderstandings that might otherwise occur. The last quality would be for the mediator to comprehend the relationship between language, culture, and power and to adopt a flexible attitude to accommodate for such habits throughout the mediation. Law argues persuasively that these essential skills can enhance the competency of a culturally aware mediator.

[1] Hilary Astor and Christine M Chinkin, Dispute Resolution in Australia (Lexis Nexis, 2nd ed, 2002) 253.

[2] Ibid 254.

[3] Siew Fang Law, ‘Culturally Sensitive Mediation: The Importance of Culture in Mediation Accreditation’ (2009) 20 ADRJ 163.

[4] Ibid 164.

[5] Ibid 166.

[6] Ibid 168.

Multicultural Implications in Mediation: Part II

Multicultural Implications in Mediation

Part II: Cultural Approaches to Conflict

Niharika Ahuja

This is Part II of a three part series of posts by Niharika Ahuja. Niharika holds an LLM in dispute resolution with high distinction from Bond University. She is currently training as a family mediator in Alberta, Canada.

What is cultural diversity and why is it important in mediation? Finding a precise definition for ‘culture’ is difficult. Siew Fang Law defines culture as ‘a set of values and beliefs acquired from learning, experiences and social upbringing, which creates implicit social rules or a code of ethics and behaviour within a specific group.’[1] Clarifying what cultural diversity means is essential in order for mediators to understand what aspects form an individual’s cultural experience.

In the mediation process, acknowledging different cultural experiences is important in understanding the parties’ emotions and attitudes. This may be even more complex than it may seem as different cultures have their own unique perceptions and expectations of how conflict must be dealt with. Western cultures differ importantly from Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, for example, in the appropriate ways to negotiate and resolve conflicts (and what a resolution looks like). Another important case study in Australia involves the distinctive perspectives and habits of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people when resolving disputes.

Mediation and ATSI cultures

Mediation appeals to ATSI communities as it is more in tune with their traditional ways of settling disputes within their community than adversarial litigation. Further, mediation is an effective and useful method to re-empower ATSI people by encouraging them to take full ownership and control of the dispute or conflict. However, this may also be dangerous as it may push a certain style of mediation or decision-making process that is inconsistent with the values or beliefs of ATSI cultures. Therefore, to ensure that the advantages are available and are utilised, mediators must remain mindful to conduct the mediation in accordance with the parties’ values.

The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) noted that ATSI dispute resolution should ideally be segregated from mainstream dispute resolution.[2] This was based on the reasoning that mainstream dispute resolution adopts a Western style, potentially alienating ATSI people by not accommodating their values. For an instance, studies show that people from ATSI backgrounds can shift contexts and identities with speed in conflict situations.[3] This may particularly be a problem where the mediation sessions are conducted in a fixed order, according to the agenda.

The traditional cultural framework for settling disputes in ATSI cultural contexts relates to the settlement that occurs within the community, not merely a settlement between individuals. Cultural perceptions of settlement or resolution within ATSI communities are therefore not solely in relation to individual finances or legal consequences, but the collective interests of the group. Furthermore, the Western perception of ‘resolutions’ being finished and not revisited is also contrary to many ATSI traditions. For these communities, the resolution may be continual and social in nature.

Risks and challenges

The VALS study mentioned above noted the consequences and risk of distrust towards the dispute resolution process and the possible missed opportunities.[4] VALS further identified the key inconsistencies between Western-style mediation and the Aboriginal perception of mediation as involving mediator neutrality, confidentiality and communication barriers.[5] Each of these features is potentially at odds with aspects of ATSI cultures mentioned previously. Only when ATSI approaches to conflict are understood can a non-Indigenous mediator understand how to approach the mediation in a way that accommodates the needs and viewpoints of the parties.

This issue cannot be avoided by always selecting an Indigenous mediator, as there will always be instances where a non-Indigenous mediator is preferred (or no alternative is available). Non-Indigenous mediators must therefore ideally be educated and trained not only to understand the cultural behaviour of ATSI communities, but also to learn how the community has traditionally approached similar kinds of disputes in the past and wishes to approach them in the present.

My next blog post will explore some solutions and approaches that mediators can adopt to address these kinds of cultural issues, not only when dealing with ATSI cultures, but in multicultural contexts more generally.

[1] Siew Fang Law, ‘Culturally Sensitive Mediation: The Importance of Culture in Mediation Accreditation’ (2009) 20 ADRJ 162, 163.

[2] Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Exploring Culturally Appropriate Dispute Resolution for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (VALS, 2015) 3 <https://vals.org.au/assets/2015/06/Alternative-Dispute-Resoution-ADR.pdf>.

[3] Deborah B Rose, ‘Indigenous Ecologies and an Ethic of Connection’ (1999) Global Ethics and Environment 172.

[4] Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Exploring Culturally Appropriate Dispute Resolution for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (VALS, 2015) 3 <https://vals.org.au/assets/2015/06/Alternative-Dispute-Resoution-ADR.pdf>.

[5] Ibid 5-8.

Multicultural Implications in Mediation: Part I

Multicultural Implications in Mediation

Part I: Issues and Challenges

Niharika Ahuja

This is Part I of a three part series of posts by Niharika Ahuja. Niharika holds an LLM in dispute resolution with high distinction from Bond University. She is currently training as a family mediator in Alberta, Canada.

Mediation is a tool that helps to bridge the gap between differences, and this requires knowing and respecting the culture of people that you meet.[1]

Many Western nations have seen a rapid growth of individuals from a diverse range of cultures, religions, and beliefs over recent decades. In Australia, over 43 percent of the population were born overseas from over 200 different countries and are now permanently settled in the country.[2] Due to the increasing cultural diversity in many countries, maintaining social order requires cultural sensitivity and respect towards the particular issues or lifestyles of minority groups. This is not only relevant in our social or justice system but also in mediation.

As one of the key features of mediation is communication, it is critical that mediators and the parties understand each other’s cultural experiences. However, this may put mediators in a difficult position. On one hand, mediators are obligated to remain neutral between the parties. At the same time, however, it is crucial for the parties’ background and emotions to be understood and accommodated, which may require active steps on the part of the mediator. Allowing for flexibility in responding to cultural issues within the mediation process can help to achieve the important social objective of maintaining social order across cultural differences.

The mediation process

Mediation involves the voluntary attendance by both parties to resolve their dispute with the guidance of a third party, the mediator. In the introduction to the process, clarification is given regarding the roles of the mediator and the parties. It is clarified that the mediator is there to direct the process, while the parties are in control of the substantive or content issues. This is to ensure that mediators do not overstep their limits by imposing any value judgments on the parties and their dispute.

The opening statements allow parties to ‘tell their story’ by explaining the concerns that have brought them to the mediation. Researchers and mediators have given particular attention and value to this stage to see how it allows the parties to achieve their version of justice by articulating their concerns.[3] What is worth noting here, however, is that the parties are disclosing these statements to the mediator, who is considered the figurehead or authority throughout that session. Therefore the parties may feel the need to display their story according to what would resonate with the mediator the most.

One of the most significant and valued communication strategies used by mediators is rephrasing. Rephrasing promotes understanding between the parties by encouraging them to rephrase their assertive emotions and statements into neutral interests. An important concern at this stage of the mediation is that some cultures prefer to express or deal with conflicts in an emotional rather than neutral or rational way. This potential challenge would require the mediator to have the skills to guide the mediation according to how the parties are accustomed to resolving it in their cultural tradition.

The role of Western culture

Morgan Brigg has undertaken valuable research on how the mediation process is shaped by Western culture.[4] Brigg notes that the Western ideology adopts a different approach to selfhood as opposed to other cultures. The Western ideology is mainly that conflict is destructive and can only be resolved by peace and harmony. This is problematic, as many cultures have a different perception and way of resolving or not resolving conflicts, as will be discussed in more detail in my next blog post.

What is important to acknowledge is that this ideology has heavily influenced and dominated the way mediation is conducted. Aside from the mediator’s own perception being molded by these ideologies, the actual process, and organisation of the mediation may reflect a Western approach to conflict. For instance, mediators are the most satisfied with the process when the parties have reached an actual agreement between them. This satisfaction is dependent on the fact that mediators perceive their duty as resolving conflicts by peace and harmony, in accordance with the Western ideology.

My next post will further explore the role of cultural differences in shaping responses to conflict, looking particularly at the experiences and challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the mediation process.

[1] Alessandra Sgubini, ‘Mediation and Culture: How Different Cultural Backgrounds Can Affect the Way People Negotiate and Resolve Disputes’, Mediate.com (March 2006) <https://www.mediate.com/articles/sgubinia4.cfm>.

[2] Siew Fang Law, ‘Culturally Sensitive Mediation: The Importance of Culture in Mediation Accreditation’ (2009) 20 ADRJ 162, 162.

[3] See, for example, Isabelle R Gunning, ‘Diversity Issues in Mediation: Controlling Negative Cultural Myths’ (1995) Journal of Dispute Resolution 68.

[4] Morgan Brigg, ‘Mediation, Power and Cultural Difference’ (2003) 20(3) Conflict Resolution Quarterly 289.

Mediation, Mediator, Mediation – Part III

Part III of Greg Rooney’s three part series.  Part II is available here 

There is much of the Newtonian thinking underpinning those promoting the dispute resolution (DR) product.  This can be seen in Boulle and Field’s recent blogs [1]where they connect measurement with understanding, a classic Newtonian concept. For example ,Boulle and Field propose that it is only by evaluation and measurement that the legitimacy and credibility of mediation can be assessed. This is based on the Newtonian concept that the world is ordered and that if enough research is done and a full understanding of a situation is achieved then the future can then be predicted.

The challenge to this Newtonian view of the world can be seen in the replication movement in which many of the significant social science experiments of the past are being repeated with vastly different results from the original conclusions.[2] This is because nothing is repeatable in a complex environment. It has thrown into doubt the validity of much of the so-called evidence-based research and observational case studies carried out in the social science field. This has become a significant problem for academia.

The Newtonian view of the world has been superseded by modern physics; particularly, the laws of thermodynamics and the emerging awareness of quantum physics. These offer far better explanations of what is happening and more importantly why the world has changed so much.

The laws of thermodynamics hold the best scientific explanation of the disruptive world we live in.  Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that is the study of systems. The first law of thermodynamics is that nothing is created or destroyed; it simply changes form.  The second law of thermodynamics asserts that this change is always in the direction of decay and that all natural processes lead to an overall increase in disorder. It is why human beings, and nature in general, cannot reverse the ageing process.

As this change occurs nothing is lost or destroyed. It is simply reconstituted in another form which then becomes the new paradigm, before it too starts to decay. Disruption is therefore a normal part of reality rather than the ordered Newtonian view of the world that existed pre-2007.

The emerging understanding of quantum physics also impacts on our understanding of the complex world we now inhabit.  It is a branch of physics which is highly uncertain and interconnected and where change occurs depending on the position of the observer. It breaks down the Newtonian link between cause and effect.

The answer to what will happen in the future in a complex environment cannot be found through analytical thinking. Outcomes cannot be predicted because in a complex environment every element is interconnected and constantly co-constrain each other. It evolves in random by constant modification never in the same way twice.  Therefore we can only understand what is happening in retrospect. Because no two contexts are the same it is impossible to forecast or predict what will happen. Joining the dots in advance is an illusion.

This is a significant challenge for academia and theorists.

Conclusion

So tomorrow morning the traditional ‘process’ (non-evaluative) mediators will again go off to work where they will try to remain totally present in the moment to observe the dynamics of the interaction between the parties.  They will probe first and then sense and respond to the reaction and they will try and suspend any attachment to their memories, desires and the need to understand what is happening and will try and not be deterred by blockages and impasses.  They will allow their intuition to guide them through the session rather than letting the mechanical side of their brain be the master.[3]

These are the same soft skills that leaders and managers in the commercial world need to use to manage the flow of networks between people in the way that allows for the safe space for minority views, diverging opinions, conflict and internal disruption to emerge. They require a higher state of alertness and the ability to provide a real-time response to emerging patterns and behaviours. This is the best pathway to creating strategic surprises and opportunities.

For the legal community in general and the ‘dispute resolvers’ in particular, the answer to restoring value for the legal product in the new economy is not to push aside or try to diminish the traditional mediation movement but to embrace it, and welcome it as the path to acquire the necessary soft skills to constructively engage with the fluidity, ambiguity and complexity of the new age.

I therefore suggest that rumours of the death of mediation and the significant role of the traditional process mediator are greatly exaggerated.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Future mediation: A flexible bundle of knowledge, skills, attitudes and ethical attributes. Posted on 24/08/2018 by Dr Rachael Field excerpts from Laurence Boulle and Rachael Field, from Mediation in Australia (LexisNexis, 2018)

[2] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06075-z

[3] Mc Gilchrist, I. The Master and His Emissary, 2009, Yale University Press.

 

Greg Rooney has been a mediator in private practice in Australia for 27 years and has since 1995 taught mediation and allied ADR subjects in a number of universities and private institutions in Australia and internationally. Greg has over the last 14 years mediated over 200 face-to-face meetings between religious leaders and individual victims of sexual abuse within a number of Christian religious institutions in Australia as well as abuse within the Australian Defence Force and the South Australian Police Force. Greg, together with colleagues Margaret Ross and Barbara Wilson, have since 2012 run an annual Mediation Retreat in Tuscany, Italy.  www.gregrooney.com.au

Many thanks to Greg for his inspiring and thought-provoking posts this month.

Mediation, Mediator, Mediation – PART II

Greg Rooney

(Part II of Greg’s blog following from last week’s Part I)

In response to the challenge of trying to provide value to the new collaborative economy the legal profession has sought to rebrand itself to try to recover commercial relevance. It has looked to the trusted mediation movement as its path to restoring that lost trust. The legal profession has sought to rebadge itself by dumping the designation “litigators” and replacing it with “Dispute Resolvers” (DR) now with lofty ideals:

“Through a fidelity to the good of DR, lawyers not only contribute constructively to society but they can also achieve positive interpersonal and individual change for their clients. This positive impact has the potential to extend to healing, wholeness, harmony and optimal human functioning.” (Boulle and Field) (1)

It is ironic that the long-term criticism of traditional mediation by the legal profession has been that it is too ‘touchy-feely’ and into “healing, wholeness, harmony and optimal human functioning” the very thing that it is now trying to champion DR as.

The proponents of the DR push have gone much further than a simple rebranding exercise. They have chosen to question and diminish the intent and identity of the traditional mediation movement.

Firstly, Boulle and Field (1) suggest that despite mediation’s versatility and diversity of applications it is not clear how mediation will respond to the challenges ahead. Secondly, they suggest it follows that this uncertainty for the future somehow renders mediation vulnerable to being subverted, rejected and replaced or modified beyond recognition.  They then conclude that because of this uncertainty for the future we should not pine for or have nostalgic sentiment for mediation’s (presumably lost or invalid) original intent and identity.

The real intent of the Dispute Resolution movement is revealed by the assertion that:

“It will be necessary to use research to ensure that if evaluative mediation becomes the normative approach, as well it might, that quality-control and ethical frameworks exist to prevent rogue mediators making de facto determinations.”  (Highlights inserted) Boulle and Field (1)

The recent Global Pound conferences were essentially a public relations exercise to pursue this end. It is the promotion of evaluative mediation and allied semi-determinative processes as the pre-eminent conflict resolution process by, in part, commandeering the high value of mediation in the eyes of the community. I am not sure the commercial world is buying this makeover, particularly when it still built on an adversarial solution focused culture that is not in harmony with modern economic drivers.

I would argue that the traditional non-evaluative ‘process’ approach to mediation is far more in tune with the modern collaborative economy. It is an experiential approach which gives the parties the time and space to step back and allow patterns to emerge. The mediator can sense and respond to these patterns.  This creates the potential for new opportunities to emerge out of the interaction that can lead to innovation and creativity. It can help repair disrupted trust which is the central foundation of the modern economy. It is mediating for the emergence of the new rather than providing an evaluation of the parties’ respective positions in order to close the gap.

The core facilitative skills that mediators acquire through the practice of sensing and responding to the immediacy of the moment equip them with the exact soft skills that the commercial world needs to manage in this complex environment. This is reflected in the fact that most MBA courses run throughout Australia have now been redesigned to incorporate soft skills as a core component of their coursework. Further, the big four accounting firms have created legal departments based on a collaborative non-litigious approach to providing legal expertise.

  1. Future mediation: A flexible bundle of knowledge, skills, attitudes and ethical attributes  Posted on 24/08/2018 by Dr Rachael Field.  Excerpts from Laurence Boulle and Rachael Field, from Mediation in Australia (LexisNexis, 2018)

(This is Part II of Greg’s three part series.)

Greg Rooney has been a mediator in private practice in Australia for 27 years and has since 1995 taught mediation and allied ADR subjects in a number of universities and private institutions in Australia and internationally. Greg has over the last 14 years mediated over 200 face-to-face meetings between religious leaders and individual victims of sexual abuse within a number of Christian religious institutions in Australia as well as abuse within the Australian Defence Force and the South Australian Police Force. Greg, together with colleagues Margaret Ross and Barbara Wilson, have since 2012 run an annual Mediation Retreat in Tuscany, Italy.  www.gregrooney.com.au