1 February 2010

An international mediation expert, who will be presenting a native title mediation course at UQ in early April, has said it could take 30 years to clear the outstanding list of 550 native title cases.

Mr Patrick Cavanagh, widely recognized as a leading authority on mediation, will present the four-day intensive course Mediation Strategies for Native Title Stakeholders for UQ’s TC Beirne School of Law from April 8 to 11.

Mr Cavanagh has taught over 350 courses on negotiation, mediation and arbitration skills in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and SE Asia and said the four-day course is the only one of its kind offered in Australia.

“Native title legislation was introduced 15 years ago and the general concensus of participants is that it has failed to deliver results. Cases are taking six to seven years to resolve and at this rate of resolution, the 550 cases currently outstanding will take another 30 years to finalise,” Mr Cavanagh said.

“The federal government introduced the Native Title Amendment Bill six months ago and this new legislation gives mediators a lot more power to control the process. The School of Law course will identify the glitches in the existing system, examine the new amendments and changes, and offer effective options to expedite settlement.”

Although the course is offered as part of the Master of Laws program, Mr Cavanagh said legal qualifications were not a prerequisite to undertake study.

“It’s a mediation course rather than a law course and will provide an appropriate model for land dispute resolution which can be applied to Australia and other jurisdictions such as PNG. It is suitable not only for lawyers but also for policy makers, government agency employees, negotiators and mediators involved in native title.”

Mr Cavanagh will also be joined during the four-day course by mediation experts Mr Ian Hanger AM QC and Ms Miryana Nesic, who between them have more than 50 years of commercial mediation experience.

TC Beirne School of Law senior lecturer Mrs Margaret Stephenson will also be a guest lecturer, presenting on the topic “Legal Obstacles, Options and Lessons from the Finalised Agreements”. Mrs Stephenson has developed and taught a number of courses on native title and indigenous rights, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and has won teaching awards in this field.

For further information about the Mediation Strategies for Native Title Stakeholders course visit www.law.uq.edu.au/mediation-strategies

Mr Patrick Cavanagh, 07 3371 4053, 0407 749 216, patrick.cavanagh@settle.net
Ms Lynda Flower, School of Law Marketing, 07 3365 2523, l.flower@law.uq.edu.au