Updated: Nov 11, 2022
Here at FamilyProperty, we make it our business to understand our subscribers and are committed to working with them to ensure that their businesses thrive. We’re proud to shine a light on their diverse journeys. This week, FamilyProperty’s Beth Barclay sits down for a chat with mediator, Julian Kelly.
Beth: Tell me a little bit about your background. Why did you decide to be a mediator? How long have you been a mediator?
Julian: I was a primary school teacher for fifteen years in Bourke, Moree, Inverell and Dubbo. Seventeen years ago, my son was born with a condition that resulted in him being legally blind so my wife and I chose to move to Tamworth to be closer to family. With no full-time job in Tamworth, I was on the hunt for something different.
Not long after, I started working at the Department of Communities and Justice (formerly the Department of Community Services) in child protection as a Caseworker and Manager of Casework. While I was there, I was involved in Children’s Court matters and worked very closely with solicitors. I saw an urgent need to assist families, solicitors and case workers from a holistic standpoint.
So - after a decade at the Department of Communities and Justice - I completed my National Mediator Accreditation Standards Training and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner Training. For the last two years, I have been an accredited mediator.
Beth: One part of your story that I think people would be very interested to hear more about is your foster care work. How did you find yourself doing this work? What is your reason for doing this work? Can you tell me about your most memorable or difficult case?
Julian: During my 10-year tenure at the Department of Communities and Justice, I was always appreciative of the underrated role that carers played in the Out of Home Care system. Childhood trauma plays such a significant role in the future of those who have experienced it. The brains of children are wired differently because of the trauma. I want to make a difference in the lives of children doing it tough. That is why I like doing foster care assessments.
One of my most memorable foster care assessments involved a family member who desperately wanted to care for the children. There was no doubt that they loved the children but they had been subjected to a lot of trauma in their life. In the end, I did not recommend them as a carer but recommended that the children see them often.
Beth: What is an ordinary day in your life as a mediator like?
Julian: A usual day involves conducting mediations and if I am not conducting a mediation, completing initial consultations for upcoming mediations and liaising with solicitors and parties.
When I do conduct a mediation, I ensure everyone is as physically comfortable as possible and look for signs of emotional distress as distress diminishes the ability to make reasoned decisions. I find myself reframing the positions of parties as often communication can be awkward due to the tension in the room. I try to focus on how communication will look in the future because separated parents will still need to communicate with their co-parent for years to come. I educate parents on options for communication. If parents have experienced trauma, I help them to understand in the initial consultations that there will likely be triggers for them and talk to them about how they can deal with them.
Beth: You use FamilyProperty in your practice. What is it about FamilyProperty that makes your life easier? What features do you use most?
Julian: FamilyProperty has made my life easier because of the automation. In one matter, the clients were in their 60s and were not tech savvy. I was able to insert their details into FamilyProperty during their preliminary conferences which proved to be very helpful at the mediation.
I believe that the electronic Balance Sheet which models settlement proposals and different percentages and figures will be the biggest assistance to mediators and lawyers. It allows you to have all the information in front of you which is very helpful for clients to understand and means that you do not need any paper.
Beth: What are you looking forward to the most in the next year professionally?
Julian: I am looking forward to growing my business generally, especially the mediation side.
Beth: What do you enjoy doing on your days off?
Julian: On my days off, I enjoy running/jogging. I often travel to visit my eldest daughter who is studying social work and law at the University of Newcastle too.