Conference Program 2023

Pacifica Congress

Conference Program 2023 at the Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart, Tasmania

‘Across the Pacific: Family Matters

take whanau 家庭事务hal

keluarga !”#ப வ&ஷய)க+’

Our program features celebrated speakers and cutting-edge topics. The Conference will be held on to the 31 Aug to 31 Sept 2023  the Grand Hotel Chancellor, Hobart. A conference program booklet will be provided to attendees upon registration.

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Conference Program 2023

ANNUAL PACIFICA CONGRESS CONFERENCE 2023 - Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart
Across the Pacific Family Matters
time tbcRegistration
9.00am -5 pmPreconference Workshop Full Day
Preconference Workshop Full Day
Preconference Workshop Half Day
Preconference Workshop Family Report Writer Training
Room: Full dayRoom: Full DayRoom: Half Day 9:00 am - 12:30 pmRoom: Half Day (1:30 -5 pm)
Professors Marilyn Freeman, University of Westminster London and Nicola Taylor, University of Otago New Zealand
Dr Lyn Greenberg, Couple and Family Psychology, CaliforniaDr Phil Stahl, Parenting After Divorce, San Diego and Dr Phil Watts, Mindstate Psychology PerthDr Kaylene Evers, Psychologist Melbourne
Identity Issues Impacting Children and Young PeopleQuality Therapy Amid Slings And Arrows: Standing Up For Child-Centered InterventionSupercharged Testimony – How to give authoritative and useful expert evidencePractical Issues for Family Report Writers

This Institute focuses on identity issues impacting children and young people as these are emerging as important considerations within the family justice field. Article 8 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989 requires States Parties to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity. This, however, seems to be a right which is hiding in plain sight, more easily recognised by law than by policy and practice. The Institute considers the psychological perspective of identity, what it means, and why it matters. We’ll consider a child’s established sense of self in the context of significant life events that affect children’s identity. Relocation disputes between parents and international child abduction will be addressed as examples of the areas of law and practice in which the issue of children’s identity may arise and have significant effect. Interactive exercises will then enable participants, working together in groups, to consider a range of diverse situations within the family justice field for their impact on a child’s identity (e.g., child protection / violence, surrogacy, adoption, gender dysphoria, forced marriage etc). The final session will include time for group discussion and consideration of identity issues in relation to participants’ own fields of practice.
Exposure to high levels of parental conflict is an Adverse Childhood Experience posing a substantial risk to children’s mental and even physical health. Parental conflict may interact with other stressors such as family violence, substance abuse, mental illness in a parent, special needs in a child or other issues. Much has been learned about the factors that promote resilience and healthy development in children. Therapy and other services are likely to be most effective when the professional is able to remain objective and address all factors contributing to the family’s dysfunction. Many obstacles to effective services remain, including polarization extends beyond parents to include extended family, professionals who have taken sides, and advocates from the broader community. Professionals may find themselves under attack from other professionals or advocates who are sincere in their beliefs but may misunderstand or misrepresent both scientific research and the professional’s role. Parents may also present with distorted expectations based on inaccurate information from advocates or the press. Dr. Greenberg will present the best available research and practical methods relevant to intervening with resist-refuse and other high conflict dynamics. She will provide strategies and tools for matching services to families, developing clear and defensible treatment plans, recognizing inaccurate information and distorted research, and anticipating and responding to challenges. She will also address key questions that attorneys and judicial officers may want to ask, tips for differentiating between appropriate and inappropriate professional conduct, and approaches for defending quality services. She will use active case discussion to demonstrate advanced techniques.
The two Phil’s have been giving evidence in court, and teaching practitioners how to give expert evidence, for total of about 75 years. Dr Stahl has honed his skills through a fairly litigious US court system, while Dr Watts is familiar with the dynamics and foibles of the local system. Together they present a dynamic duo of knowledge. This half-day workshop is about how to give expert evidence in the witness box and will help you polish up your ability to enable you to shine as a top tier expert. Watts and Stahl will give multiple tips on style and substance as well as things to avoid. While a good report is essential for expert evidence, your demeanour and style in court will contribute greatly to the weight and value that report has on the case.
Social Drinks and networking - from 5 PM
FRIDAY, 1 September 2023
time tbcRegistration
8 am - 9.30amWelcome and Conference
Her Excellency The Honourable Barbara Baker AC Governor of Tasmania
The Honourable Steven Strickland
9.30am - 10.30amPlenary 1 - Dr Guillermo Merelo -Diversity and Unconscious Bias

Chair The Honourable Steven Strickland
This presentation is a great opportunity to unpack the three key concepts of DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion). The content touches on the origin of such concepts, their theoretical and practical evolution, their social and business cases, and, more importantly, how practitioners can strategically implement DEI.
10.30am - 11.00amMorning Tea
11.00am - 12.30am
Plenary 2 Ms Sally Nicholes, Ms Shaynna Blaze and *** The Fort Sponsored by Nicholes Family Law WHAT DOES A MOTHER DO WHEN SHE DOESN’T WANT HER SON TO BECOME HIS FATHER?
Where do you go... who do you turn to... when home is where the harm is?

Set in 1990s regional Victoria, The Fort tells the story of one woman’s battle to escape her abusive marriage while attempting to shelter her son from the grim realities of family violence.

Kitty is a stay-at-home mum married to Graham whose suppression of a traumatic childhood sees him choosing to repeat abusive patterns of behaviour he and his mother experienced from his own father. Becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of her situation, Kitty begins to fear the impact her volatile marriage is having on 10-year- old Tom, and the long-term effects her turbulent home life might have on her son.

Kitty builds Tom a fort in his bedroom; a safe space where they can retreat when the hostilities they face at home become overwhelming. The Fort transports Tom and Kitty to a series of fantasy worlds, that give Kitty a taste of freedom, from the fear and control that dominates her home life, fortifying her to plan their escape.

Chair Justice Ciara Tyson
12.30pm - 1.30pmLunch OFW Presentation sponsored by Our Family Wizard
1.30 - 3.00pmWorkshop 1
Workshop 2Workshop 3
Workshop 4
Room: Chair: Ms Perpetua Kish

Room: Chair: Mr Darren MortRoom: Chair: Ms Elizabeth Picker

Room: Chair: Ms Lilia Szarski
Dr Charlie Azzopardi, Systemic Psychotherapist - Couple & Family Therapist, MaltaDr Phil Watts, Mindsate Psychology Perth and Ms Rachel Oakeley, Barrister PerthDr Sarah Calvert,Clinical Psychologist, AucklandDr Guillermo Merelo, Diversity Works, New Zealand
Very Early detection, Risk Assessment & Management of Parental AlienationQuestions of the Court ExpertHow psychological science can inform thinking about what participants, lawyers and judges need to know to make the best decisions for children.Unconcious Bias
Children are referred to the Institute of Family Therapy-Malta from various settings, most
already carrying a diagnosis of one or more disorders, the most common of which include
ADHD, ADD, ODD, deliberate self harm, or suicide contemplation. Our work has revealed
that most of these children concurrently experience marital/parental discord and fearfully
anticipate marital separation. Other children witness high conflict parental relationships,
marital separation and foster care. Occasionally a child vehemently and aggressively refuses
to see a previously loved parent. This is typically visible during high conflict legal separation
processes or in foster care situations. Much attention recently focused on crisis management
and reunification programs, assessment tools, and legal interventions. Research on the very
early signs of Parental Alienation (PA) is non-existent. Both clinical experience and literature
have taught us that the process of marital separation starts much earlier than the actual legal
filing of the request (Dominion 1979, Gottman, 2000), and in a much calmer space. Most of
the children’s behavioural problems encountered at family therapy clinics are often systemic
metaphorical homeostatic (Minuchin, 1981) self-protective representations of the children's
worries about their family’s anticipated doom. Such behaviours can potentially be alienation
from impending parental alienation. Early detection of these signs can help identify and
predict risk of PA. The development of a Risk Assessment tool is now inevitably needed to
guide front line professionals to intervene timely to prevent Parental Alienation in which the bestinterest of the child remains a priority.
This workshop by psychologists Dr Phil Watts and Dr Phil Stahl and barrister, Rachel Oakeley will cover
Parameters of work
o Family Law Rules - what experts could, should, shouldn’t do
o Terms of Reference & Questions to experts
• what you should get, what you can refuse to answer,
• Fees
• Makita - what an expert actually is
• Key family law cases where experts feature
• The Toe cutters – APHRA complaints
• Shadow experts – trips & traps
• Preparation for XXN
Complex Cases which come before Family Courts around the world need the best possible information about all those involved, adults and children. In most Family Court matters it is the vast knowledge base of the social sciences and especially psychology that is best going to aide in high quality decisions making and successful outcomes. This presentation will look at how current and up to date psychological science and its knowledge base can inform and support both the participants and decision making in the more complex cases that come to Courts (High Conflict, Resist Refuse, Hague etc).For practitioners it encourages a review of how up to date your engagement with your science is and for lawyers and judges (and indeed parties) it will give you a sense of what you should be seeing in the reports coming before you.
This workshop introduces participants to unconscious bias, its implications for rational decision-making, the neuroscience behind it and the effects it plays on daily interactions with people from many diverse backgrounds. Through some powerful storytelling, participants are expected to learn, reflect and challenge traditional notions of self-awareness.
3.00pm - 3.30pmAfternoon Tea
3.30pm - 5.00pmWorkshop 5
Workshop 6
Workshop 7
Workshop 8
Room: Chair: Ms Amanda Graham Monash UniversityRoom: Chair: Dr Stella LaletasRoom: Mr David Edney
Adjunct Professor Zoe Lawton The University of Auckland and Mr Kieran Pender,Dr Amylie Paquin, SwitzerlandMs Suzie Delbridge, Delbridge Forensic Accounting, Newcastle, Ms Olivia Grobtuch, Kennedy Partners, Melbourne, and Dr Rachel Carson, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Melbourne
Dr Alison O'Neill, Sydney Collective Psychology, Sydney and Dr Phil Stahl, Parenting After Divorce, San Diego
Legal EthicsThe Longitudinal Study of Separated Parents and StepfamiliesThe family implications of property disputesParenting Plan Evaluations: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Longitudinal Study of Separated Parents and Stepfamilies in Quebec is a large population-based study dealing specifically with issues of parental separation with a representative sample of mothers and fathers (1551 parents, mothers = 761; fathers = 790, separated for about 2 years, completed 3 online questionnaires with 24-month intervals). The study was designed to capture the complexity of the issues and impacts of family separation, the evolving nature of family transitions. and more specifically the individual, family, and social factors associated with the development of a conflictual co-parenting relationship after separation. Most studies on parental separation generally collect data from the mother. The reality of father is thus often little studied, but our study helps to fill this gap. The elements that distinguish fathers from mothers in their experience of conflictual separation will then be developed. The presentation will allow for a better understanding of the trajectory of separated families and will contribute to the development of targeted practices based on individual parent characteristics.
Despite more than 40 years of workshops and trainings, Guidelines, and journal articles related to Parenting Plan Evaluations (PPE), many Family Report Writers still have considerable challenges understanding this challenging work. In this workshop, the presenters, who have more than 50 years of combined experience with these cases, will identify the mindset and the skills needed to assess and write a high-quality reports. The presenters will also provide examples of defective work, biased evaluations, and fatal flaws to help participants use the new AFCC Guidelines and research to understand ways to improve the quality and consistency of their work.
For Family Report Writers, this workshop will teach critical skills to help learn what makes a good assessment and how to avoid bad or ugly evaluations. For lawyers, this workshop is designed to teach them how to critique a report. For judges, this workshop will help give guidance on the weight to give to a report, or elements of the assessment or even when to throw out a report as being inadequate, when making decisions in complex family court matters.
Ms Anthea D’Emden and Ms Kristen Wylie Tasmania Legal Aid
Client centric legal services – where clients are heard and feel heard
Tasmania legal Aid (TLA) places the voices of our clients at the centre of everything we do, and they are integral to the design and evaluation of our services and policy development. Collaboration and consultation with our clients, staff and partners are at the foundation of our service design and delivery. This session profiles two examples of TLA’s client-centric approach.
The first example is a set of practice standards and guidelines (PSG) for Independent Children’s Lawyers, which are a first in Australia. These PSG respond to the voice of the child including how they want to participate in proceedings about them, as well as what they need from their lawyer. The PSG provide trauma informed, practical and meaningful tips for ICL engagement with children, considering their diverse needs, lived experiences and developmental stages.
The second example focuses on a recent review of TLA’s Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) program. Client feedback and consultation highlighted that some aspects of the service required improvement to strengthen responses to participants experiencing family violence. Client engagement was essential in understanding the client’s experience at all stages of the FDR process, and in shaping new processes for an FDR service that is client-focused, safe and responsive to family violence.
5.00pm - 6.30pmSocial drinks
SATURDAY, 2 September 2023
time tbcRegistration
7.30am - 9.00amPacifica Congress Board meeting Room TBA
9.00am - 10.30amPlenary 3 Family Law Reform Again? Can we get it right this time? Presenters Professor Richard Chisholm

Chair: TBA
10.30am - 11.00amMorning Tea
11.00am - 12.30pmPlenary 4 Children, adolescents and gender dysphoria:Challenges in an adversarial system Ms Belle Lane, barrister, Mr John Blythe, clinical psychologist, Dr Alison Clayton, psychiatrist
Chair: Ms Kirstie Colls
12:30pm - 1.30pmLunch
1.30pm - 3.00pmWorkshop 9
Workshop 10
Workshop 11
Workshop 12
Room: Chair: Ms Stephanie Reid
Room: Chair: TBA
Room: Chair: TBA
Room: Chair:TBA
Dr Rae Kaspiew Australian Institute of Family Studies, MelbourneMs Anthea D’Emden and Ms Kristen Wylie Tasmania Legal AidJustice Ciara Tyson, Family Court of Western Australia and Dr Lyn R Greenberg, Couple and Family Psychologist, CaliforniaMs Olia Pelayo, Children in Focus Sydney
Court Orders! What now! Parenting Orders researchICL Practice and Standard guidelinesReportable Therapy for Families In Conflict:
What’s working? What Needs Improvement? Where Do We Go From Here?
Behind the scene of Supervised Contact Service and how we make the visit safe and fun for parents and children
Exposure to high levels of conflict constitute an Adverse Childhood Experience posing a substantial risk to children’s mental and even physical health. Reportable family therapy is one of a number of service innovations aimed at reducing the risks children face from exposure to high levels of parental conflict. What have our experiences taught us about what can be effective in these cases? What scientific findings and case information should we consider in setting treatment goals? What issues have arisen with respect to sharing of treatment information and therapeutic coordination when there is more than one therapist involved in a case? What procedures work best for responding to complaints and attacks on therapists? What do we need to know to address poor practice while supporting professionals who are delivering quality services? This presentation will include up-to-date scientific findings that can assist professionals in differentiating between appropriate and inappropriate therapy and procedures for developing, implementing, and evaluating treatment plans,identifying other services that can assist children and families and issues related to the shortage of qualified practitioners.
Supervised Contact Services play an important role during family separation. Especially if there are serious allegations of child sexual abuse, domestic violence or drugs and alcohol misuse. At Children in FOCUS we provide safety to the children and a safeguard for parents who hate each other – either from further abuse or false allegations. We can guide parents where needed to ensure they feel supported and can parent naturally under supervision. Ultimately, we provide safety, opportunity & hope to the children and the parents who engage in our service.

We deal with all sorts of issues before, during and after the supervised visits. I will explain how we remain neutral and professional while managing difficult situations which arise during the visit. How do we keep the visits safe and fun at the same time? I will answer all these questions and unveil behind the scenes of the Supervised Contact Agency “Children in FOCUS” and share the good, the bad and the ugly of our daily operation. I will provide tips and suggestions on how everyone involved in the family law system can keep the focus on the children at all times to reach a better outcome for the family.
Dr Alison O'Neill and Chris Lennings NB
Exploring and Enhancing the Quality of Single Expert Reports in Australia
Concerns about the quality of single expert reports has prompted the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to recommend an accreditation scheme aimed at improve the quality and consistency of single expert reports (also known as Parenting Plan Evaluations (PPEs). However, little is known about what consistitutes high-quality reports, the quality of reports submitted to courts in Australia, or how to improve them. A series of four Australian studies recently sought to address this gap by using a mixed method design. The presentation will summarise the research aims, methods, and findings. Findings can be used to assist evaluators in improving the quality of their work and can also assist legal professionals to better assess the quality of reports provided to the court and decide the weight accorded to the PPE.

Learning Objectives:
1) Learn about Australian research on the quality of expert reports.
2) Apply findings to your practice.
3.00pm - 5.00pmSocial Drinks at end of conference


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