Michelene Benson CV

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Prior to beginning a private consultancy, I worked as a full-time trainer/mediator/facilitator for the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) for eight years.  As a conflict resolution specialist, I designed and conducted workshops, presentations and talks for diverse groups of people.  I have also gained much experience in materials design and development.

 I spent a significant amount of time in the CCR Youth Project, which engages in long-term peace-building initiatives in the education arena.  As the Training Manager of the project, I coordinated the training and intervention activities.  I also managed the Peace Education Partnership Programme – a year-long training and support programme for selected schools.  The success of this programme was captured in the BBC produced documentary Hope in Hell.  This documentary then led to the production of the SABC series Taming Tigers for which I prepared the treatment and facilitated the training sessions.  The series was broadcast nationally and internationally on DSTV.  The Youth Project was one of the first recipients of the Premiers Award for Excellence in Education.

 For the last 3 years of my term at CCR, I worked in the Prison’s Transformation Project.  The project sought to contribute to the transformation of prisons from a militaristic culture to a culture of learning, growth and development where human rights are respected and people are treated with dignity and respect. To this end, we offered training in conflict resolution to management, staff and residents (inmates).  Consultation regarding organisational development, crises intervention, and other processes comprised a significant area of my work.  Mediation and facilitation services were also provided.

 In 2003, I returned to CCR to Manage the Youth Programme for nine months.  The project employed 3 staff members and operated on a budget of 3 million over three years from the Danish Embassy.  Hereafter, I accepted a long term contract of 7 months to conduct the Professionalism in Unit Management course for Goodwood Prison.

 I have a keen interest in designing training programmes.  Implementing pilot programmes from which replicable models can be developed is a personal goal which finds expression in my work.  I enjoy producing training videos for long-distance education and for supplementing training programmes.  Designing modules, experiential learning techniques and materials on specific aspects of conflict is a particular passion.  The Peer Mediation Training programme and materials produced for the WCED: Safe Schools Division is one such project.

 I served on the resource panel of the CCR, Mediation Training Services Project as a trainer/facilitator.  I also conducted private tuition for CCR junior trainers in the areas of training, presentation and facilitation skills. 

 On occasion I  teach the Conflict Resolution module at the South African College of Applied Psychology.  My duties include lecturing, small group facilitation, administering and assessing assignments as well as conducting the overall assessment of the students in this module. 

 As a member of the Partnership Advancing Conflict Transformation (PACT),  I provided services to local government structures seeking to manage conflict or obtain conflict resolution skills and strategies.  The Western Cape Housing Symposium, organised by PACT was an initiative of the partnership.

 Through the Consortium for Community Education and Peace Training (CONCEPT), BUDS worked in partnership with development practitioners to contribute to transformation in education.  The CONCEPT consultants recently assisted BUDS to conduct a community project in Elim, Overberg District for the Ethical Leadership Project – a project which is housed in the Western Cape Premier’s Office and forms part of the Moral Regeneration Initiative.

 Counselling and trauma debriefing services are provided to those parties involved in conflict and trauma when the need arises.  The WCED: Safe Schools Division was a major client of BUDS till March 2008.

I recently completed training in divorce medition for the Northern divorce mediation.  The purpose of the training was to afford mediators specialised training in the Care and Contact Negaotiations for divorcing parents in accordance with the Childrens Act.

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