The Senior Australian of the Year 2014, The Hon Fred Chaney, was the keynote speaker when the Australian International Disputes Centre launched the AIDC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mediation Training Scholarships Program in Sydney on Wednesday, May 21.

The AIDC aims to deepen the understanding and uptake of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in Australia, and says the scholarship program is an exciting and important initiative to reach out to Indigenous communities to share the skills and benefits of mediation training.

AIDC Chief Executive Officer Deborah Lockhart says “The role of the mediator is to assist disputing parties discuss and negotiate the issues in their dispute and seek a resolution. Mediation is a powerful opportunity to help people maintain relationships and resolve their disputes without recourse to litigation. The AIDC scholarships program aims to develop the dispute resolution capability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Mr Chaney, a former federal Senator and Member of the House of Representatives, is the chairman of Desert Knowledge Australia and is on the Board of Directors of Reconciliation Australia. He was named Senior Australia of the Year in January 2014.

AIDC scholarships will be offered through community leaders, following a consultation process. Ms Lockhart says “The program aims to ensure that participants are not only trained in the national mediation standards, but that they will also have the support of their communities in undertaking the role of mediator.”

The first AIDC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mediation Training Scholarship recipients will commence training in Sydney at the AIDC in June 2014