Move into me­di­a­tion

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WORK­PLACE con­flict is cre­at­ing jobs and in­creas­ing de­mand for qual­i­fied post­grad­u­ate me­di­a­tors across the na­tion.

Far from be­ing just a mat­ter of deal­ing with a few square pegs in round holes, work­place con­flict can be costly and lead to ab­sen­teeism, a de­crease in pro­duc­tiv­ity and po­ten­tial lit­i­ga­tion, ex­perts say.

Gov­ern­ment, pri­vate and pub­lic busi­nesses are in­creas­ingly em­brac­ing Al­ter­na­tive Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion (ADR) as a cheaper way of solv­ing and pre­vent­ing work­place con­flict.

ADR is fast be­com­ing a growth mar­ket and a pop­u­lar op­tion for those look­ing to de­velop their ex­ist­ing skill set through post-grad­u­ate study.

Em­ploy­ment in the field is expected to grow as me­di­a­tion com­pa­nies ex­pand their busi- ness and new grad­u­ates en­ter the field.

Univer­sity of South Aus­tralia’s me­di­a­tion and con­flict res­o­lu­tion pro­gram di­rec­tor Clare Sweten­ham says the com­bi­na­tion of Aus­tralia’s tight eco­nomic cli­mate, the ris­ing cost of lit­i­ga­tion and gov­ern­ment-im­posed manda­tory schemes makes ADR more ap­peal­ing to busi­nesses.

She says they re­alise work­place me­di­a­tion is less of a risk to rep­u­ta­tion and are more aware of me­di­a­tion op­tions.

‘‘ It’s also cheaper, faster, more flex­i­ble and less con­fronta­tional than go­ing to court,’’ Sweten­ham says.

She says be­cause man­agers can find it dif­fi­cult to deal with con­flict or are in­ad­e­quately equipped to do so, qual­i­fied me­di­a­tors are in de­mand locally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Univer­sity of South Aus­tralia me­di­a­tion grad­u­ate Ju­dith Bur­nell left a role in the ed­u­ca­tion field to en­hance her con­flict-man­age­ment skills through post-grad­u­ate study.

Bur­nell, who is a work­place me­di­a­tor for Ac­cess Pro­grams, says me­di­a­tion is a handy ad­di­tion for psy­chol­o­gists or hu­man re­la­tions work­ers.

‘‘ The prin­ci­ples of me­di­a­tion, con­flict res­o­lu­tion and how con­flict de­vel­ops can be trans­ferred to just about any work­place and per­sonal re­la­tion­ships . . . so you can use them in any job,’’ Bur­nell says.

‘‘ Con­flict in work­places can cause lack of pro­duc­tiv­ity and . . . bad be­hav­iours in work­places can af­fect re­la­tion­ships and cause col­leagues to feel they’re walk­ing on eggshells around those in­volved.’’

POR­TA­BLE SKILLS: UniSA grad­u­ate Ju­dith Bur­nell works as a me­di­a­tor.

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