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Border Rivers Gwydir Catchment Management Authority

University of New England

Our Team

Julian Prior

Role: Organiser, Educator

Organisation: Centre for Environmental Dispute Resolution, University of New England, Australia

Biography: I have been a member of staff of Ecosystem Management since 2000, although I have been involved in teaching within the discipline since 1992. For the 20 years prior to coming to UNE I worked in natural resource management in Australia and overseas, while employed by a range of government and non-government agencies and international development organisations.

My teaching and research interests lie in the areas of natural resource policy, rural extension and environmental dispute resolution. I also have a particular interest in resource management in developing countries, with my specialisation being in African pastoral development.

I have a strong professional and research interest in the developing field of environmental dispute resolution. I have trained in facilitation, conflict resolution, mediation, and negotiation and am the Director of the recently instituted Centre for Environmental Dispute Resolution at UNE (CEDR).

Research I conducted in NSW between 2002-2004 with 6 Regional Vegetation Management Committees and 5 Regional Water Management Committees clearly demonstrated to me that training in negotiation, conflict resolution, and consensus building would have greatly benefited the reaching of agreement within these committees.

The Speaksoftly project is based on the premise that many natural resource management conflicts can be avoided or mitigated when stakeholder representatives undertake training in collaborative negotiation and community consensus building. I hope that, through this Speaksoftly pilot project, we can gradually build an accessible training framework that will allow community members to develop their environmental negotiation and consensus building knowledge, skills, and behaviours.

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Ben Rolfe

Role: Organiser, Webmaster

Organisation: Wisdom Ecology

Biography: I have been a programmer and designer for 10 years now, working with companies, as a contracter, and freelance. In this time, I have worked on the websites of major corporations such as Panasonic, Nestlé and Telstra, as well as those of small community organisations in Australia and southern Africa, and larger NGOs such as Oxfam.

I am passionate about learning by doing in virtual environments, and about optimising peoples interactions with, and understanding of, their physical environments. I am presently studying a PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast, where I am investigating computer game-based learning around environmental issues.

Given the nature and scale of most environmental issues, dispute resolution is an essential, yet often overlooked, aspect of most natural resource management scenarios. I came to the SpeakSoftly project with the aim of developing a low-cost, scalable delivery platform for capacity building in basic environmental dispute resolution.

If you have any technical difficulties with the website, please contact me at

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