8.2 Core principles and skills for dispute and complaint resolution
Conflict is natural and can even have positive outcomes if it is properly managed and lessons are learned.
For that to happen, you need to have procedures, rules and policies to prevent, detect and deal with disputes and complaints, and to implement your decisions and solutions.
Conflicts and grievances within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities can be extremely complex—many have long histories, and bring into play large social networks and overlapping rights and interests.
The issues under dispute may be emotionally charged and based on deeply felt cultural values and explanations that are not easily understood by outsiders.
Dealing with such situations requires considerable experience and intercultural sensitivity.
8.2.1 Effective two-way principles
Whatever the issue, your processes will be more effective if they are informed by best-practice cross-cultural principles that build two-way legitimacy and accountability.
The principles below will help inform such an approach.
8.2.2 Skills and knowledge needed
Resolving disputes, grievances and complaints isn’t easy; especially if intercultural values and expectations are called into play.
To be an effective mediator of any form of conflict you need to have personal sensitivity, authority, astuteness, cross-cultural communication skills, and be trusted and respected.
Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations often find themselves at the frontline of trying to resolve disputes and complaints involving their members, governing bodies or staff.
As a result, many are investing in:
- running customised training for their own staff members and management in the areas of alternative dispute resolution and complaint mediation
- delivering education and information campaigns for their members
- ensuring their governing body leaders are equipped with the knowledge and skills to deal effectively with the contentious issues they are confronted with.