Conflict management in a community
A feud between four groups of Aboriginal community members had been going on for a number of years. The constant arguments and incidents were very distressing for everyone and in some cases families were split between the feuding mobs. The community was tired of the fighting - some members couldn't even remember why it all started and weren't sure why the arguments went on. Eventually, the police suggested the mobs ask Community Justice Centres (CJC) to help.
CJC offered a conflict management process. An Aboriginal mediator was appointed and began the process by meeting with each of the four mobs individually. At each meeting, the Mediator explained the process and helped the mob identify who would attend the conflict resolution process with the other mobs and who could speak on behalf of the group. The mediator explained that the mediators involved in the conflict management process wouldn't take sides or impose their ideas on anyone. Their role was to help the mobs communicate but to leave the choices about how to resolve the issues in their hands.
Once all the community mobs had met with the Aboriginal mediator, a date and time was set to bring all the mobs together for the conflict management process. The session lasted three hours and everyone was able to have a say about their needs and discuss options. At the end of the session, the groups all decided to make an agreement that stated they all wanted to live a peaceful life with no conflict. They agreed that if members of one mob were upset with members of another, they would try to talk it through or contact CJC for mediation. They agreed each mob would respect the homes and possessions of the others. The mobs also agreed to have the local Aboriginal Corporation organise community training. Another important and healing part of the conflict management process was that some community members apologised to other community members for past wrongs and this also helped everyone move forward from the past conflict.
By participating in conflict management, the community members had taken a big step to making their community a safe and respectful place to live.