What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process by which people who are in conflict can be helped to
communicate with each other about what is important for them and how to make
decisions about resolving their dispute. The mediators provide clients with a
supportive atmosphere and a method of talking to one another, to assist them to
sort out the issues and come up with acceptable solutions, and make mutually
Mediation can be used in a wide range of situations including Family Law,
neighbourhood, commercial and workplace disputes, parent/adolescent conflicts,
problems at school and issues concerning the care of the elderly.
The mediation process involves:
- The parties listening to each other's point of view without interruption.
- Identifying issues which need to be resolved.
- Sharing of relevant information.
- Exploring ideas and options.
- Testing possible solutions.
- Decisions and agreements put in writing.
A mediation session is about 2 hours. The average number of sessions for the
whole process of mediation is between 3-5. The frequency of appointments is
adjusted in accordance with participants' needs.
The Role of the Mediator
Mediators are highly-skilled people from a variety of professional
backgrounds, such as law and the social sciences. They are trained in mediation
and in resolving disputes. The expertise of mediators allows for a diverse range
of disputes to be dealt with.
The mediators can either work alone or with another mediator. They do not
give legal or psychological advice but will explore general principles that
apply to couples who are separating.
The mediators are impartial, evenhanded and neutral and they control the
process, not the content that is discussed, and they maintain the
confidentiality of the process. They are solution and future-focused in helping
the parties resolve their dispute. The mediators ensure that everybody agrees to
the decisions being made.
No one is forced to agree to anything unless they want to.
What can participants expect?
Mediation is a voluntary process, where decisions made are not legally
binding. Everyone gets the opportunity to express his or her own point of view
and is free to talk about issues of concern, with everyone present.
Participants must be willing to listen to the other party and be genuinely
willing to negotiate and commit to reaching a solution and considering a
compromise. Participants must be prepared to follow the process.
Benefits of mediating a dispute:
- Saves money and delays, because mediation is cheaper and quicker than the
- Promotes co-operation and improves communication that can enhance an
ongoing relationship which assists parenting and other relationships.
- Provides a structure in which future disputes can be resolved more
- Control in the decision-making process; no imposed decisions.
- Generally less stressful or traumatic than court proceedings.
- People are less likely to breach agreements they have made themselves.
- Client fees apply to mediation services and are calculated on the basis of
Alternatives to Mediation:
- Do nothing.
- Continue the conflict.
- Seek the assistance of friends in resolving the dispute.
- Seek Arbitration, which is a less formal legal process to resolve the
- Instruct lawyers to negotiate agreements on your behalf.
- Commence court proceedings.
- Resolve the issues yourselves, without professional assistance.
This information is provided by Relationships Australia who are
Australia's leading provider of professional services to support relationships.
It is a not-for profit community based organisation. Our Mission: Relationships
Australia is committed to enhancing the lives of communities, families and
individuals by being the leading professional provider of quality relationship
support services. Our Goals: To work in partnership with others to ensure a
society which supports positive and respectful relationships; To serve a more
diverse range of clients; To provide relevant services that meet the needs of
clients; To adopt business practices that enable the delivery of efficient and
effective services; To ensure a positive work environment that delivers outcomes
for clients; and To be financially robust to achieve our goals.
You can contact the national office of Relationships Australia on 1300 364
277 to find your closest state branch.