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Q

What is mediation?

A

Everyone experiences conflict at different times in their life. It may be with a member of your family, or a friend at school, a neighbour or someone you work with. Of course, politicians are often in conflict with each other about policies the Government should follow, and, throughout history, nations have been in conflict about particular issues. Mediation, also known as family dispute resolution, is a process that is used to help resolve disputes and reduce conflict.

A mediator is a person who stands in the middle of people in dispute (“the parties”), without taking sides, to try to help them agree on (“negotiate”) a solution that each person can accept. The mediator must be someone each person accepts as the mediator. He/she does not tell people what to do and has no power to make a decision (like a Judge), but does help them think about different ideas and options that they could perhaps accept. The option that is eventually agreed to usually includes some benefit for each person, even if the option is not an ideal outcome for any one person. A person may sometimes be reluctant to agree, but should never feel forced to agree.

To be successful, mediation does not require each person to agree with the other’s point of view – only that each agrees to do, or not do, certain things. Then, of course, it is important that each person actually does what they have agreed to do.   

Mediation can be very helpful, especially if the mediator is skilled and experienced. But it does not solve every dispute because each person must be willing to mediate and also consider options other than their preferred one. Sometimes, you may not feel you can negotiate with the other person or you might think it is not the right time to make an agreement. In mediation, people often have to compare another person’s proposal with what will happen if they don’t reach agreement.

If there is no agreement in mediation, a person may feel strongly enough to argue their case before a person or Court that can make a legal decision about the issue in dispute.

For more information, visit Relationships Australia Victoria's website.