Congratulations to our Family Works Resolution Service Manager Timothy McMichael who was named Mediator of the Year at the prestigious New Zealand Law Awards on November 23.
Timothy was one of seven finalists from throughout New Zealand who were nominated for the NZ Law Awards Resolution Institute – Mediator of the Year and the only one who is an NZQA-qualified coach and assessor.
A passionate advocate of dispute resolution for separated and separating Kiwi families, Timothy has had more than three decades of experience in the fields of family justice, counselling and Family Mediation in Britain, the United States and New Zealand.
Judges praised Timothy, who set up FWRS in April 2014 following changes to the Family Court, for his commitment to the importance of hearing children’s stories during the mediation process.
His workload, successes, feedback and support of the Child Consultation model were impressive, the judges said.
“Mediators need to get to the point and Timothy seems apt at doing so,” said one judge who also praised Timothy’s “excellent 90 per cent clearance on a decent case load of 70”.
FWRS is the only fully funded Family Dispute Resolution supplier in New Zealand that offers a comprehensive Child Consultation Service which is widely used in Australia and the UK but not here.
Child Consultation involves a trained child consultant meeting the child one-on-one – independently of the Mediator – to ascertain the child’s thoughts and feelings around their home care arrangements.
Timothy said he was humbled to be chosen from the well qualified cohort of finalists who included lawyers from the Ministry of Business Innovation, large, respected Wellington legal firms and a legal academic from Auckland University.
“I am passionate about bringing Family Mediation to more and more New Zealanders and if receipt of this award, by increasing my profile, also increases the profile of the Family Works Resolution Service, that can only be of benefit to separating and separated Kiwi parents.”
The award also recognised that Dispute Resolution sits clearly within the New Zealand legal system.
“The fact that this is a legal award means that dispute resolution, be it mediation or arbitration, sits alongside all other kinds of court process.”
Resolution Institute, which sponsored the award, is the leading Australasian mediation, arbitration, training and accreditation body, setting national standards for mediation in New Zealand and Australia.
“Resolution Institute continues to push the bar up higher for mediation competency which only increases further the value and effectiveness of DR services.
The award also recognised the work that Timothy and FWRS are doing to support two indigenous practitioners in the Far North as they become trained, qualified and accredited mediators within their communities.
Mediators Dale Johnson and Tania Henderson of Far North Reap in Kaitaia are due to begin working as mediators at the start of 2018.
In 2015 Timothy won a Resolution Institute Practitioner Award for his contribution to developing and promoting dispute resolution in New Zealand communities.