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Queensland: teaching students conflict resolution and mediation

SUSANNA LOBEZ: The Queensland Law Society recently sponsored a competition in School Conflict Resolution and Mediation - SCRAM. Thirty five Queensland schools competed and last week the Corpus Christi College team, from Brisbane, narrowly defeated Monto State High School and won $3,000. The conflict was about theft from the school tuckshop, and issues at stake were: Was the tuckshop left unattended? Should students dob on each other? and, Who carries the can?

UNIDENTIFIED: How can you know how it's happened, when you never know it's happened?

UNIDENTIFIED: Yes, we don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED: Well, you're the one telling us it was an accident, so it must have been.

UNIDENTIFIED: How do you know it was accident?

UNIDENTIFIED: Well, I didn't do it. Did you do it?

UNIDENTIFIED: No, I didn't do it.

UNIDENTIFIED: So it's an accident.

UNIDENTIFIED: Did Chris do it?

UNIDENTIFIED: No.

UNIDENTIFIED: Could anyone else get into the tuckshop at any time?

UNIDENTIFIED: Anybody can get into the tuckshop, it's a self-serve tuckshop.

UNIDENTIFIED: We had to take the money out, remember?

UNIDENTIFIED: Can anyone get into the back, at any time?

UNIDENTIFIED: Well, you can get to the fridge anywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED: Did you stay in the tuckshop at all times?

UNIDENTIFIED: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED: No, we had to take the money out, remember.

UNIDENTIFIED: So both of you left?

UNIDENTIFIED: No, I just had to take the money out.

UNIDENTIFIED: You said 'we' just had to take the money out.

UNIDENTIFIED: Yes, we took it in turns, but I did.

UNIDENTIFIED: I think at the moment, we're getting nowhere. We're getting nowhere at the moment, we're always coming in, there's a little circle and we're coming back to here. So I would like to talk to the two parties separately, privately for a second, and give them an opportunity...

UNIDENTIFIED: Is there anything you'd like to talk to me about now?

UNIDENTIFIED: Well, I don't really want to say this when the others are around - I know who did it.

UNIDENTIFIED: Who did what?

UNIDENTIFIED: Who pulled the plug.

UNIDENTIFIED: Do you want to share that, Ashley?

UNIDENTIFIED: Will they find out about this?

UNIDENTIFIED: No, not if you don't want them to.

UNIDENTIFIED: Okay. The other day when I was catching the bus to school I overheard James - Year 8 kid - he was bragging to his friends saying how he snuck into the tuckshop and stole a whole lot of stuff, then he pulled out the plug in the freezer and said there was no one in the tuckshop when he did it. So I don't think Shannon and Alex were in there all the time. I don't really know how to tell the others that he did it. Because I don't really want them all to think I slacked off on my job, and I don't want Shannon and Alex to really get into trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED: Okay. If you feel that it would make things easier on this whole mediation and how far you get, you can tell them - as I said earlier, nothing that is said here today will leave this room. So it's up to you if you want to tell them. Okay?

UNIDENTIFIED: As you can see, there is obviously a lot of confusion and resentment amongst your group at the moment. I just like to point out, sometimes people can't agree. That's a common fact of life. But I think that although we haven't got everywhere today, you are starting to move towards making it....

SUSANNA LOBEZ: Mediation for beginners up north, an initiative of the Queensland Law Society.