Team Pink Reflects on the Australian ADR Awards 2022:

What is behind the scenes? Who stepped up to the stage at the Gala Dinner? What do the winners say about their Awards?

By: Irene Mai and Mindai Tan

As Interns and Associates at the Australian Disputes Centre (ADC), we have been privileged to work alongside six dedicated ‘Team Pink’ members this year, helping to organise and ensure the smooth running of the much-anticipated Australian ADR Awards Gala Dinner. The annual ADR Awards is one of ADCs and the industry’s most exciting events, and we’ve been fully immersed in the atmosphere of excitement and anticipation since last November.

Our preparation for the event started with the release of the nomination categories for the 26 Awards. We eagerly anticipated new submissions from prominent professionals and industry leaders from December through to February. As nominations poured in, the finalists were notified and the submissions went off to the judges, the suspense over who would emerge as the winners grew stronger by the day.

The Award Night was hosted at the recently opened North Building at the Art Gallery of NSW, offering a stunning backdrop of architecture, modern paintings and sculptures. The venue was buzzing with life even before the event proper, with guests mingling and chatting during the cocktail hour.

Our team worked diligently to ensure that the Gala Dinner, which attracted over 180 guests from across the country ran seamlessly. Chloe skilfully handled the seating plan, and deftly managed the last-minute correspondence/changes – all from Manila! Alex efficiently set up the ADR Awards photo wall and presentation table with Yiling, while Heidi worked meticulously on setting out the programmes with young lawyer and former ADC Associate, Gigi Lockhart. Our commander-in-chief, Deborah, oversaw the entire Team Pink operation.

It was time to welcome guests and Team Pink ,with help from Gigi and Liam Cross, ensured a warm welcome to all guests, guiding them to the photographer, escalators and elevator for the Law-in-Order cocktail reception in the Sculpture Gallery (2 floors below).

The sound of the Royal Australian Navy Band’s bugler, followed by the beat of the Drum Corp, created a dramatic call to dinner for guests. Aunty Bronwyn Penrith delivered a heartfelt Acknowledgement of Country and Deborah gave a warm welcome, thanking all the ADR professions for their contributions in supporting and promoting the development of alternative dispute resolution in 2022. She noted that the “ADR Awards night is not only a celebration of the many achievements of the ADR profession, but most importantly the friendship that bonded us together.”

The Royal Australian Navy Band later returned to the stage to perform two beautiful pieces that resonated with the Australian spirit on Woolloomoolo Bay.

Anthony McAvoy SC, spoke on the Referendum on the ‘Voice’ and its importance to Australian society, and the challenges that our First Nations people continue to face. Mr AcAvoy highlighted his ongoing advocacy for the rights of First Nations people and made a call to arms for ADR professionals to contribute to this important work. The Hon. Justice Julie Ward, representing the Supreme Court of NSW and Chief Justice Andrew Bell then spoke to guests, acknowledging the significance of the work undertaken by Australia’s ADR profession.

The pinnacle of the night arrived when the winners were announced. Witnessing the culmination of hard work and dedication was exhilarating to watch, but it was their heartfelt words of gratitude and passion that has left a lasting impression on us. Their inspiring remarks on the significance of their achievements left us in deep respect:

We’re absolutely thrilled to have the expertise, dedication and passion of our specialised team and mediators recognised through the Ombudsmen & Commissions ADR Group of the Year Award. We’re committed to providing high quality alternative dispute resolution services that support our small business people to thrive, and enable parties to move forward when commercial conflict arises.

Ombudsmen & Commissions ADR Group of the Year – VSBC

The award of Conflict Coach of the Year is important because it acknowledges the important role that a coach can play in supporting individuals to change their mindset about conflict, promoting not only short term conflict resolution but long term conflict transformation. I hope that it helps to raise awareness and promote the incredible benefits that conflict coaching can provide.

Conflict Coach of the Year – Dr Samantha Hardy

This Award recognises more than personal achievements as a practitioner and leadership within the dispute resolution community. It acknowledges the advances made across various dispute resolution processes in Australia, all of which will ultimately benefit disputants themselves and civil society at large.

ADR Practitioner of the Year – Peter Kassapidis

I am deeply humbled to be recognised as The Hon. Tom Bathurst ADR Advocate of the Year.  It is a great honour to receive an award named after such a distinguished lawyer, advocate and judge, and I am very proud of the professional acknowledgement from my colleagues and peers that this award represents.  It has encouraged me to continue to strive in pursuit of effective and noteworthy advocacy outside of the traditional courtroom context, and I hope it inspires others to do the same.

The Hon. Tom Bathurst ADR Advocate of the Year – Nik Dragojlovic

Clients are always the biggest winners when it comes to successful ADR projects, but it’s so lovely for the team behind a great idea to celebrate their achievement. Receiving this award has been the highlight of our year! Thank you to Deb & The ADC for making this possible.

ADR Project of the Year – CatholicCare Toowoomba (by Sonia Brown)

The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV) is thrilled to be awarded the 2023 ADR Innovation of the Year Award. It means so much to us to have our work recognised and celebrated by our ADR peers. In the ADR sector, we all share the same goal of encouraging our community to learn how to better manage conflict, and these awards help us to achieve that goal. We are very grateful. This award acknowledges DSCV’s design and delivery of two innovative programs, Navigating Conflict and Leading Through Conflict, tailored to build capacity of principals and school staff to better manage interpersonal conflict and address systemic causes of conflict in the school environment.

Over 200 learners participated from schools across regional, rural and metropolitan Victoria, and many reflected on the profound positive impact the program had on their personal well-being and connections, relationships with colleagues, students, and parents.  Learner’s feedback on the program included “Simple to follow.  Great conversations. Useful for life (not just work)”, and “I only wish I had participated ten years ago”.

ADR Innovation of the Year  – Dispute Settlement Centre Victoria

I am profoundly honoured to be International ADR Practitioner of the Year.  I have had the privilege of seeking and obtaining access to justice for clients who are in distressed circumstances, in particular by fighting for their cases to be heard in independent and neutral dispute resolution fora, instead of overseas national courts which may be subject to government interference. I have also had the opportunity to work with industry bodies and arbitral institutions in shaping relevant legislation and ADR and arbitration frameworks, in order to (amongst other things) maximise the international expertise and investment that is available to Australia for the energy transition and its extensive public infrastructure construction programme.

International ADR Practitioner of the Year of the Year – Sean Marriott

I am deeply honoured to have been awarded Arbitration Practitioner of the Year. The nature, scale and variety of the arbitrations that I work on with my Clifford Chance colleagues is reflective of the immense advances that we have made as an Australian arbitration community in educating and working with corporate Australia to harness the advantages of arbitration and ADR.

Arbitration Practitioner of the Year – Julia Dreosti

The ADR Chambers/List of the Year award reflects our real commitment to, and exponential growth in, ADR work both in Australia and internationally across a wide range of sectors. In particular, Level Twenty Seven Chambers’ arbitration practice continues to prosper and we are proud to have the talent here in Chambers collectively commended.

ADR Chambers/List of the Year – Level Twenty Seven Chambers

It is a tremendous honour for the Clifford Chance team to be named Arbitration Practice Group of the Year at the Australian Disputes Centre ADR Awards. We are incredibly proud and delighted at this recognition. This award also reflects our unique position as the market leading Australian (and APAC) practice in all of the major international arbitration growth areas – investor-state, energy and resources, commercial and construction arbitration.

Arbitration Practice Group of the Year – Clifford Chance

Being awarded the Mediator of the Year was certainly a career highlight for me. Deciding to leave my career as a lawyer of 25 years to start a mediation practice was driven by a passion for alternative dispute resolution and a belief that the mediation of civil claims, particularly involving historical child abuse and medical negligence, could be done in a more trauma informed manner. I have actively implemented trauma informed principles to my mediation practice and am proud to be working with lawyers who are doing the same in their legal practices. Receiving this award was not only an extremely proud moment for me personally, but one that illustrated recognition by my peers and the industry, of the value of implementing trauma informed principles into a facilitative mediation practice.

Mediator of the Year Award – Julie Somerville

I am really pleased to be named the Under 40 ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022. It is a pleasure to be recognised as part of the Awards and, more broadly, part of the community dedicated to the advancement of excellence in dispute resolution in Australia and worldwide. The Award is also a fantastic reflection of the great work of our entire team, who I really enjoy working with to try to solve the various challenges that dispute resolution presents to us.

Under 40 ADR Practitioner of the Year – David Jenaway

Winning this award is deeply gratifying because, working as a solo FDRP, you don’t get many accolades. This recognition is an honour, particularly because there are so many great FDRPs doing such great work at the moment. Our clients are often experiencing the toughest time of their lives, and they don’t always have the emotional energy to value the work we do. So, this recognition reminds me that, although the work I do is complex, quiet, and sometimes lonely, my peers still recognise that I have made an important difference to families in crisis. There is no more gratifying recognition than the recognition of my peers, because they know what it’s like. Thank you so much.

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner of the Year – Jack Ellis

We congratulate all the ADR Award finalists and thank them for their hard work in the past year. All the achievements in ADR would not be possible without the contributions of everyone involved.

Photos from the fabulous Gala Dinner can be viewed here. 

We look forward to seeing you at the Australian ADR Awards 2023!