Workplace learning model for Family Dispute Resolution
The design of the Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution program through CSU Training is based around workplace application.
The practical experience is an important component of any training because it provides learners with the opportunity to apply and develop skills and knowledge in the real work context.
Professional experience such as practicum and work placement is recognised as an effective way to prepare professionals such as teachers, health workers and community services workers for work as indicated in the following references.
A significant potential benefit for students in work-based placement is that often they have one on one guidance and instruction with immediate feedback on their performance.
www.flinders.edu.au - Retrieved 15/07/09
All student teachers reported benefits fro practicums. They viewed practicum as an opportunity to focus on applying what had been learnt to the real environment and to embed knowledge and practice in the holistic environment . . .
www.herdsa.org.au - Accessed 15/07/09
The National Review of Nursing Education (2002) Our Duty of Care Report recognised the vital importance of clinical practicum in nursing and midwifery preparatory education.
www.nnnet.gov.au - Accessed 15/07/09
The philosophy of professional practice is based on the notion of learning by doing, where theory and practice come together to enhance student learning and prepare graduates for the workplace (eg., James & Colyer, 2001; Jewell, 1989; Ralston & Ellis, 1997).
www.ecu.edu.au - Accessed 15/07/09
The library student practicum is the perfect vehicle to promote and encourage professionalism in librarianship. It also continues the valuable mentoring role into the next generation of information providers.
http://www.alia.org.au/ - Accessed 15/07/09
Practicums are an essential part of many professional courses at universities. They are included in many disciplines and provide the student with the opportunity to put the theory they have learned into practice. Practicums also provide students with real life experiences and allow them to prepare themselves for employment in their chosen field.
http://www.avetra.org.au/ABSTRACTS2006/PA%200050.pdf - Accessed 15/07/09
- Learners are required to undertake direct observation of skills application in the workplace as directed by the Training Package
- Learners will need to have access to a workplace for a minimum of 10 hours
- Learners will need the opportunity to practice and apply knowledge and skills in the workplace under supervision
- Learners will need to nominate a Workplace Coach who will guide them through their learning and skills development in the workplace context
Family Dispute Resolution organisations can play a significant part in ensuring the professionalism of the industry by hosting work placements for student studying the Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution.
Benefits for practicum sites:
- The industry gains highly qualified and work ready practitioners
- Ensuring the future and professionalism of the industry
- Quality assurance - opportunity to contribute to the high standard of FDR practitioners
- Shape future practitioners into the professionals YOU want
- Provide the organisation with the chance to train a worker in readiness for employment
Initially the idea of hosting a work placement student can seem quite overwhelming and resource intensive for a FDR organisation or agency. The following case studies have been included to show various models of providing work placements, which meet the needs of the learner and consider the resources of the FDR organisation/agency.
Kevin has a BA in Social Sciences, two years experience working in crisis accommodation and is interested in pursuing a career in family dispute resolution. He wishes to retain his current employment in the industry while he takes on this extra study. He has found a provider that offers the Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution by distance which will suit his needs and lifestyle. However, to complete this course he is required to undertake a minimum of 10 hours of practical application of his skills and knowledge in a family dispute resolution workplace.
How can this work?
Kevin approaches the local family relationship centre and speaks to the Manager about undertaking the practical component of his course within that organisation. The Manager is happy to explore the options with Kevin as she sees the benefits of training a new worker in this field of high staff turnover. The centre operates with limited, mainly part time staff and deals with very sensitive issues where client confidentiality and privacy are paramount.
The Manager suggests that Kevin be mentored by their most senior FDRP and spend time in the centre each Friday morning when she is working. Kevin is happy to spend one half day a week at the centre as this will fit in nicely with his work roster and not detract too much from his family time. Kevin???s visits to the centre will initially involve an orientation and familiarisation focus, reviewing organisational policies and procedures, and in particular, those around confidentiality. Once he has met with Susanne, his Workplace Coach, and established a schedule around his learning needs he can then review the policies and procedures and observe the general operations of the centre.
Kevin can be included in staff meetings, session debriefs and interagency functions, all of which will add to his learning and understanding around the role of the centre and the FDRP.
He can be given access to client files for review purposes to gain knowledge around the procedures and tools utilised by the centre in recording and documenting client details.
Kevin can then observe the intake and assessment stage of the process. Kevin can practice this element of the work through role plays with other staff members, before being allowed to actively take a role in this process. With consent from the parties, Kevin can be invited to observe in FDR sessions with a variety of clients. He could be expected to follow up on these sessions by;
- producing relevant documents and records as required by the organisation and as directed by the legislation;
- sending out follow up correspondence;
- making contact as required with other relevant services or parties.
This will be consolidated with ongoing activities from his Learning and Assessment guides covering these areas. Kevin will be expected to practice this role in simulated settings - i.e., through role plays etc.
The next step would be in allowing Kevin to co-facilitate in FDR sessions with his Workplace Coach.
Kevin competently completes his study, and obtains a Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution and is able to obtain his registration with the Attorney General's department as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. He continues to work in his job at the crisis accommodation services and is much better skilled to work with people experiencing issues around family domestic violence, relationship disputes and shared parenting.
In 2 months time, the FDR Centre has a vacancy for a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and suggests to Kevin that he apply for the position. Kevin applies and is successful in gaining the position. The vacancy is filled with minimal disruption to your service or client's needs.
Case Study 2
Gale is a part time teacher in Community Services at the local TAFE. A friend of hers works at Centacare in family mediation and she is aware that there is a high demand for qualified workers in this field. She holds an undergraduate qualification in humanities and is told by her friend that she will need specialised training to work in family dispute resolution. Following a search of providers, Gale has found that CSU Training offers a work based distance education program which is cost effective and enables her to undertake the training in the comfort of her own home. However, a requirement of the training is to have access to a family dispute resolution organisation where she can use the experience of an existing practitioner to support her knowledge and skills development and to practice these newly learned skills. Gale approaches her friend to discuss the possibility of using Centacare for her practical component of the training. How could this work?
Gale suggests that she would be able to spend the TAFE holidays at Centacare and was willing to spend two weeks there in the first semester and another 2 weeks in the second semester holiday period. She met with the Supervisor who was willing to accommodate Gale for these times and was happy for Cheryl, Gale's friend, to act as her Workplace Coach to work with Gale and provide the additional support that was required to underpin her learning and get her up to speed with the operations of the centre.
During the first two weeks, Gale familiarises herself with the operations and relevant policies and procedures of the centre. Gale worked her way through the first units from the learning and assessment guides, and was able to contextualise these to the working environment through observation and through discussions with Cheryl. A visit of the local family law court was organised for Gale so she could see first hand what happened when an agreed parental plan was not reached through mediation and a meeting with the Court's Domestic Violence Liaison Officer gave Gale insight into this aspect of family dispute.
Gale observed the intake process and was invited to do some of the initial client follow up required from this stage, ie. Search for AVO's or other information that may impact on the process, contact with other parties involved in the dispute etc.
Gale then observed Cheryl facilitate some FDR sessions as part of her learning and be involved with any debrief following these sessions. Through this process, Gale was able to see first hand how Centacare approaches and conducts family dispute resolution sessions.
Gale was expected to continue her self paced study using the learning and assessment guides provided by CSU Training and to organise times with Cheryl to discuss and clarify her ongoing learning.
During the second two weeks placement, Gale was expected to take a more active role in the centre, conducting intake and co-facilitating some family dispute resolution sessions with Cheryl. Gale had the opportunity to practice her skills and apply her knowledge in a real setting.
On completing her placement with Centacare, Gale was able to utilise her new skills and knowledge in her TAFE teaching and provide her students with another context of community service work.?? She was successful in gaining a Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution and registration with the Attorney General's Department as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. While there were no current positions with Centacare, the Supervisor was happy to place Gale on an eligibility list and was confident that there is a well trained FDRP that can slot immediately into a position when the need arises.
Case Study 3
Carmen is married with two school aged children - 8 and 6 years old. She has been a stay-at-home mum since having the children but previously worked as a lawyer in a local law firm. Carmen is interested in re-entering the workforce and has thought about retraining in the dispute resolution area. She is looking for training and work which suit her circumstances and has found a Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution which is self paced and offered by distance education. However the program requires Carmen to have access to a workplace where she can build on and apply her learning. How could this work?
Carmen approached her previous employer for some guidance and is told that they refer clients to another legal firm which specialises in family law. She approached this firm and explained what she was looking for. They were a little hesitant about how it will work but following discussions it was decided that Carmen would spend an hour a fortnight with Phillip, the most experienced FDRP who will act as her Workplace Coach. Phillip received and completed the Workplace Coach Training Module and with the Workplace Coach support notes, felt ready to guide Carmen through her learning.
In addition to this, Carmen spent one (1) day a month in the firm where she worked along side the team of lawyers involved in FDR. During this time she observed intake procedures and gained an understanding of how the clients are assessed for family domestic violence or any other issues which would impact on the mediation process.
Carmen learnt the policy and procedures of the law firm in relation to FDR practices, observed and then conducted initial intake and assessments. Carmen was required to observe FDR sessions with a variety of clients to gain knowledge on opening statements, setting agendas and working toward parenting plans. To reinforce her learning in this area, she was able to practice in a simulated setting with Phillip and other staff.
Carmen continued to meet with Phillip each fortnight to discuss what she had studied in the learning material she received from CSU Training and to explore any issues which had arisen either from her one day a month spent in the firm or from her learning materials and assessment items.
Carmen co mediated with Phillip, or another FDR Practitioners, to be able to put all her learning into practice.
Third party reports were completed to indicate that Carmen satisfactorily applied the required sills and knowledge in context.
Carmen successfully completed her training, was awarded a Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution and obtained registration with the Attorney General's Department to be able to operate as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.
Carmen set up her own business and was delighted when the law firm where she did her practice approaches her with the offer of a contract for two days per week to relieve Phillip who was taking 6 months long service leave. Carmen accepted and the law firm was able to continue to offer the same level of service to family law clients without disruption while Phillip was on leave.