MEDIA RELEASE  16 November 2020

Australia is a global leader in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and the ADR Awards recognise both individual and team excellence in the field. The 5th Annual Australian ADR Awards, presented by the Australian Disputes Centre, were held on Friday, 13 November 2020.

In highlighting the significance of the work done by Australia’s ADR professionals, the NSW Attorney General, The Hon. Mark Speakman SC MP, recognised their innovation and importance as skilled mediators, arbitrators, conciliators, facilitators and Ombudsman. “Courts should be a last resort for resolving any sort of dispute. You are making that happen. You are reducing the personal, financial and public costs of litigation. You are helping prevent people’s problems from escalating. You are making a differences to lives. Thank you for the enormously important work you do.”, said Mr Speakman.

During 2020, ADR practitioners have revolutionised their practices. Bringing complex disputes online, they have ensured that disputing parties can resolve their differences throughout the global pandemic. NSW’s Land and Environment Court was awarded ‘ADR Innovation of the Year’ for their innovative approach in utilising a range of phone and virtual media platforms to help resolve disputes without the need for a contested hearing.

Also at the forefront of international practice standards, Australian-based Arbitrators and Arbitration practitioners demonstrated their expertise in advancing the conduct of online arbitral hearings. DLA Piper was awarded Arbitration Practice Group of the Year, and partner Gitanjali Bajaj was named Arbitration Practitioner of the Year. Conducting her significant international arbitration practice from Sydney, Judith Levine was named Australia’s Arbitrator of the Year.

In opening remarks, Nathan Moran, CEO of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, and Mark Speakman recognised the enormous contribution of Indigenous Australian’s to the field of ADR. With the Awards ceremony being held during NAIDOC Week, and the internationally renowned Indigenous Bangarra Dance Theatre performing for guests, recognition and celebration were palpable with three Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander nominations winning Awards.

ADR Project of the Year and ADR Community Mediator of the Year went to the team at One Pacific and the remote central Australian communities of Ali Curung and Tenant Creek. From Melville Island, Marius Pirrawayingi Puruntatameri was named Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mediator of the Year. Highlighting the Tiwi Islands’ first representation at the Australian ADR Awards, Mr Speakman commended their ‘Ponki’ mediation programme (meaning ‘welcome’, ‘peace’ or ‘it’s finished’) as “a fascinating area of Restorative Justice, helping long-serving prisoners reintegrate back into the community, and helping troubled youth stay out of jail”.

In congratulating all ADR Award finalists, the Australian Disputes Centre’s CEO, Deborah Lockhart, recognised the enormous breadth and depth of Australia’s ADR expertise. “In 2020 we have twenty-four ADR Award categories, and nominations from across seven Australian States and Territories. Disputes are a normal part of life; in our families, workplaces, commerce and communities. It is how we deal with these issues that makes the difference. In facilitating timely and cost-effective dispute resolution, Australia’s ADR professionals are every-day advancing our access to justice. They are helping us to move on from our problems and to thrive. This work has a profound impact on the fabric of Australian society. I commend your expertise, and congratulate you for your achievements, commitment and resilience in 2020.”, said Ms Lockhart.

In a vibrant online Gala that included local and international speakers and artists, guests were challenged with creating a new word that represented ‘2020’. Elder Marius Pirrawayingi’s Tiwi word, Makatingari, meaning free running water or, in the context of 2020, go with the flow, was a crowd favourite and award winner.

For a full list of Australian ADR Award Winners 2020, see


For further information and inquiries contact: Deborah Lockhart, CEO Australian Disputes Centre

t. +61 2 9239 0700 e.