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National Conversation Canberra 2023

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The State of the Collaborative Nation – Shaping the Future of Collaborative Practice in Australia

Friday, 13 October 2023
Mills Oakley Office, Canberra

On a crisp Canberra Friday at Mills Oakley offices, the heartbeat of collaborative was evident in the lively discussions at the recent National Conversation Day. There were many highlights of the day, which unfolded as follows:

A keynote address by her Honour Deputy Chief Judge Mercuri, whose insights, inspired attendees to think innovatively about the future of collaborative practice in other areas of law.

The Panel session that took us through the evolution of collaborative practice in Australia, ideas on how collaborative practice will continue to evolve and its significant potential in the future. Thank you to our chair Susan Warda and the panel Cassandra PullosLynda McKie CFP®and Gloria Hawke

Bernie Bolger and Julia Brierley Brierley led the first training for the day, “Trust the Cornerstone of Collaboration. They mixed serious psychological concepts with humour and fun, creating intimate spaces for deeper dives into the subject of Trust.

The second training session for the day was delivered by an experienced team of collaborators, Sue AbramsJohn ThynneShelby Timmins and facilitated by Olivia Gesini. The case study for the session was based on an actual matter successfully resolved by the team using the collaborative process, which cemented for those in attendance how trust in the professional team, trust in the clients and trust in the collaborative process all work together to create results that would not otherwise be considered, let alone possible.

In between the work, there was also time set aside for nourishment and networking. The short breaks were buzzy and it was evident there’s just never enough time set aside for networking, when you are enjoying it.

A huge thank you to our wonderful sponsors who made these sessions possible:
·        Happy Lawyer, Happy Life Clarissa Rayward our morning tea sponsors
·        JustFund Jack O’Donnell our lunch sponsors
·        Collaborative Professionals NSW, Shelby Timmins our drinks sponsors
·        Session 1 sponsors, Birchstone Tax Law, Daniel Taborsky
·        Session 2 sponsors, Foster Johnson Olivia GesiniBrooke Johnson (Crompton) Johnson, Averil Foster
·        Our generous venue sponsors, Mills Oakley Canberra Susan WardaVince Sharma

And last but certainly not least, thank you to everyone who attended, participated, contributed and supported the National Conversation Day.
As the sun set on Canberra at the end of our day, one thing was clear – the conversations started are far from over. We hope to see you all again at the next National Conversation Day in 2025.

Special thanks to:

Event Program


The place of Collaborative Practice in Law Today.

The Honourable Deputy Chief Judge Patrizia Mercuri (General and Fair Work)

Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2)


Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice: Where we have been, where we are today and where we are headed – insights into the evolving role of collaborative practice.


  • Susan Warda, AACP Board Member and Partner, Mills Oakley Family Law Sydney

Panel Members:

  • Her Honour Deputy Chief Judge Mercuri, FCFCOA
  • Cassandra Pullos, AACP President, Accredited Family Law Specialist
  • Gloria Hawke, Board Member Collaborative Professionals (NSW), Collaborative Practitioner – FDRP and Family Therapist
  • Lynda McKie, Collaborative Practitioner – Financial Services


Building Trust: The Cornerstone of Collaboration.

An interactive session presented by social science professionals on the importance of trust in collaborative matters and how to build trust quickly and deeply with both colleagues and clients.


  • Bernie Bolger, AACP Board Member, Collaborative Psychotherapist, FDRP and Mediator
  • Julia Brierley, AACP Board Member, Collaborative FDRP and Mediator


Trust in Action: Unpacking Collaboration through Case Studies.

An interdisciplinary case study demonstrating the power and importance of trust in collaborative practice equipping attendees with actionable insights and strategies for our own collaborative practices.


  • Sue Abrams, AACP Vice-President, Collaborative Family Lawyer
  • Olivia Gesini, Collaborative Family Lawyer and Former Deputy Registrar of the High Court of Australia
  • John Thynne, Director Vincents Chartered Accountants, Collaborative Practitioner, Accountant and Valuer
  • Shelby Timmins, Collaborative Professionals (NSW) President, Collaborative Practitioner – Coach,  FDRP, Mediator and Parenting Coordinator


Dispute Resolution in Uncertain Times.

  • Di Simpson, Chair of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia

AACP thanks our event sponsors:

AACP thanks our platinum, gold, and silver corporate members:

AACP thanks our corporate partners: