What you need to know about Mediator Accreditation

When we talk about Mediation Accreditation you need to be aware that there are two very different systems that accreditation relates to.

The first is entry level to the professional dispute resolution industry and is called NMAS Accreditation.

The other is a post graduate level accreditation as a family law mediator and is called accreditation as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.


Summary of this article

If you don’t have time to read the full article. These are the key points.

Lowest level of accreditation

  • the lowest level of accreditation as a professional mediator is NMAS Accreditation
  • NMAS accreditation requires the equivalent of a 38 hour course and assessment or experience and assessment
  • Use the Registers on the MSB Website check if a mediator is accredited

The highest level of accreditation

  • the highest level of accreditation as a professional family law mediator is the CHC81115 – Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution
  • this takes about a year to complete
  • Use the register on the Attorney Generals Website  to see if a FDR Practitioner is accredited

NMAS Accreditation

National Mediator Accreditation System accreditation is entry level to the industry and requires:


FDRP Accreditation

Family dispute resolution practitioner accreditation requires:

What is a RMAB?

Mediation Institute and a number of other organisations who train, assess and/or accredite mediators are called Recognised Mediator Accreditation Bodies (RMAB’s) 

The role is delegated to them by the Mediators Standards Board.

Link to the Mediators Standards Board Website

As a RMAB Mediation Institute:

Is becoming a NMAS Mediator Mandatory?

Not legally. The NMAS Accreditation System is a voluntary industry standard established in Australia to ensure that there is a way to identify mediators who meet a minimum standard.

Mediation Institute strongly advises members of the community to only work with a mediator who has current NMAS Accreditation.

If someone claims they are a mediator but are not NMAS Accredited it may mean that:

  • they have not been trained in mediation
  • they have not been assessed as competent in mediation
  • they have not met accreditation requirements to become accredited
  • they have not maintained ongoing professional development requirements to maintain their accreditation.

How do I know if a mediator is accredited?

As a RMAB our job is to assess mediator’s competence against the NMAS Standard and accredit them.

Once we accredit a mediator or re-accredit a mediator who is applying for their accreditation renewal we put their name on the national register.

The register allows anyone to look up the name of a person claiming to be a mediator to see if they are actually accredited.

They also have an obligation to tell you who their complaint handling body is and how you can access the NMAS Standards.

Are NMAS Mediators Accredited for Family Law Mediation?

No. The situation for Family Law Mediators is different. 

Completing the minimum requirements to become a NMAS mediator does not equip you to be a family law mediator.

It requires a much higher level of education and obligations.

The training required is CHC81115 – Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution Qualification or an approved higher education equivalent.

Only those who meet the training and accreditation requirements are entitled to call themselves Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRP’s)

How can I tell if a FDRP is really accredited?

Most FDRP’s are listed on the Australian Attorney Generals Department maintained register of Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners.

Some do not want their details published on the register so if you can’t find someone with a search of the register you can contact the Attorney Generals Department to check.

Why train and accredit as a NMAS mediator with Mediation Institute?

The top 3 reasons our students choose Mediation Institute are:

1. Flexibility

The course is delivered by flexible, accessible online learning.

2. Individuality

We offer ongoing enrolment throughout the year although service levels drop over Christmas. This allows you to start when you want and move through the course at your own pace.

Live mentoring means that you learn with the full support of live video NMAS Accredited Mediator / Trainer mentors who give you feedback as you are developing your skills.

3. Video Mediation

The added benefit to our online learning model is that you learn video mediation at the same time.

Mediation Institute provides this mediation training via eLearning and the skills development through Video Mediation.

You can find out more about our NMAS Accreditation Course here – https://www.mediationinstitute.edu.au/nmas-mediator-accreditation-course/

Why train to become a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner with Mediation Institute?

The top 3 reasons students choose Mediation Institute for the CHC81115 – Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution are:

1 Accessibility and Flexibility

Our course is delivered by online learning with live simulations for skills development. As with our NMAS Course you will learn Video Mediation and if you are not already a NMAS Mediator you will be able to use this course as a valid alternative to the NMAS Course in order to apply for assessment and accreditation as a NMAS Mediator.

2 Proper Work Placement

The requirement of the qualification is a 50-hour work placement with work with at least 5 families under the supervision of a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.  Some providers do not do this and instead count the role plays you do to develop your skills as being work placement. They may only require 20 hours of client related work.

Some providers leave you to find your own work placement and do not provide any support at all. Before you enrol with one of those providers make sure that you have a placement in hand as even the 20 hours is very difficult to get. Mediation Institute has arrangements in place for your work placement should you want us to arrange it for you.

3. Self-paced learning

There are a number of different types of live video mediation role plays required in the course but the scheduling of these and the speed you move through the course depend on your availability.

You can find out more about our CHC81115 – Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution course here – https://www.mediationinstitutGrad. Dip. Course Information


Find the right course for your budget and preferred training style but do your due diligence. Some questions we recommend you ask.

  • Do they allow for re-assessment if you don’t pass your assessment fist time? If so what does it cost? (NMAS)
  • Do they teach you how to facilitate Video Mediation and equip you for the 21st Century as a mediator?
  • Do they require the full 50-hour work placement, and do they support you getting your placement? (FDR)
  • Are their trainers practising professional mediators or academics who are teaching you theory rather than the reality of working in the industry?
  • Do they run a professional body that will continue to support you once you complete your entry level course?

Needless to say, Mediation Institute does all of these things and more. 

Please get in touch for an obligation free discusssion if you are interested in becoming a professional mediator.


Sweeping Changes to the Family Court System announced.

Pre-empting the current review into the Family Court System the Australian Attorney General, Christian Porter, announced on the 30th May 2018 that the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court will merge. The change is to take effect from the 1st January 2019. The new court will be called the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA). A new Family Law Appeals Division of the Federal Court of Australia (FLAD) will also be established to hear appeals from the FCFCA.

Western Australia has it’s own family court however it appears that the appeals divisions will hear some appeals from the Family Court of Western Australia although the Attorney General does not have the constitutional power to merge the Western Australian court into the rest of the country.

The intention is to speed up the process of settling family disputes which end up in court.

“Family break-up is a traumatic time for both parties and children, as well as the wider family. We have a responsibility to ensure that systems are in place to assist those families who cannot resolve matters without legal intevention are as efficient, and that the systems itself does not exacerbate the trauma of family break up, especially for children.

It’s estimated that these reforms will improve the efficiency of the federal family law system by up to a third, with the potential in time to allow up to an extra 8,000 cases to be resolved each and every year.”

Christian Porter, Attorney General

The Family Court currently hears family law cases involving complex financial arrangements, trusts, serious parenting arguments, allegations of child abuse in custody arrangements and protracted family disputes.

The Federal Circuit Court deals with the rest.

The new court will be divided into two divisions:

  • Division 1 will comprise the existing judges of the Family Court of Australia and deal only with family law matters.
  • Division 2 will comprise the existing judges of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and deal with family law matters and general federal law matters.

The Attorney-General said reform of the courts dealing with family matters is long-overdue.

Current situation

In the 2016-2017 financial year there were about 106,000 family law applications.

  •  almost 44,000 divorce applications in the Federal Circuit Court
  • almost 14,200 consent order applications in the Family Court (consent order applications are when the parties are able to reach agreement without requiring a court judgement)
  • about 25,600 interim order applications between the two courts (interim orders as orders made during a court case before the final trial hearing)
  • almost 20,500 final order applications across both courts following a final hearing (trial)
  • costs for families in the Family Court are estimated to be up to 4 times those of the Federal Circuit Court
  • matters in the Family Court require 45% more attendances by litigants than the Federal Circuit Court
  • days per trial in the Family Court are double that o fthe Federal Circuit Court
  • approximately 29% FCC matters and 42% of Family Court matters pending final orders are over 12 months old.
  • approximately 350 appeals are filed in the Appeal Division of the Family Court each year.

The Federal Circuit Court finalises over 85% of the final order family law matters.

“Despite the number of cases filed each year remaining relatively static over the past five years, the number of family law matters awaiting resolution has grown from 17,200 to 21,000 and the median time taken to reach trial has grown in both courts, from 10.8 months to 15.2 months in the Federal Circuit Court and from 11.5 months to 17 months in the Family Court.”

Christian Porter, Attorney General

The time it takes to reach trial is considerably longer in some court locations.  Mr Porter believes that the merger could see an extra 8,000 cases being resolved each year.  Some cases are taking three years or more to be resolved through the court.

In 2016-17, almost 1,200 families had their disputes transferred between the Family Court and the FCC. The waiting time to have a case transferred averaged 11.1 months in the FCC and 4.6 months in the Family Court. In both cases, litigants had to restart their proceedings using the procedures of the alternate court.

Australian Law Reform Commission Report

A current wider reaching review of the family law system, not just the courts, is currently being undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission is due to report back to the Government by March 2019.

The issues paper makes interesting reading for anyone wondering about the focus of the enquiry. https://www.alrc.gov.au/inquiries/family-law-system

Media Release by the Attorney-General

The media release justifies the change as being to help families save time and costs in family law disputes.

“For too many families, disputes over property and custody of children, are being exacerbated by inefficiencies and growing delays in the court system caused by the overlapping jurisdiction and significant variations in the operational rules, processes and practices of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.”

“One key issue causing exacerbating delays for many families is the high number of cases transferred between the two courts. Almost 1200 families’ cases are transferred between the two courts each year, some after having been in court for more than 11 months. This means those families must start the whole court process again in the other court with completely different rules, procedures and processes. This and other inefficiencies mean highly skilled and trained judicial officers are being hampered from hearing and resolving more family law cases requiring resolution because of inefficient and often duplicated administration.”

Christian Porter, Attorney General

See the media release from the 30th May 2018 by the Attorney General here. https://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Media/Pages/Court-Reforms-to-help-families-save-time-and-costs-in-family-law-disputes.aspx 

Fact Sheet – Structural reform of the federal family courts

A fact sheet on the proposed changes is available on the Attorney Generals Website. https://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Media/Documents/Court-reforms.pdf

The Government expects to introduce legislation in the Spring Parliamentary sittings. Subject to passage of legislation, the FCFCA and the FLAD will commence operation on 1 January 2019.

Initially, the Federal Court and both divisions of the FCFCA will maintain their existing court rules. Following consultation with the judiciary, legal profession and other stakeholders, the new court will update its rules with a view to achieving consistency in forms, procedures, administrative matters and practice directions.

Transitional arrangements will be put in place for proceedings before the courts at the time of the commencement of the reforms to ensure that matters before the courts at that time are dealt with as effectively and efficiently as possible, and with the minimum of inconvenience and delay.

The structural reform of the federal court’s page is located here https://www.ag.gov.au/LegalSystem/Courts/Pages/Structural-reform-of-the-federal-courts

No consideration of Alternative Dispute Resolution

There is no mention of Alternative Dispute Resolution as an alternative to people going to court. We hope that the law reform review will identify more creative alternatives to the proposal to merge the courts such as providing additional resources and support to educate separating couples about negotiation and the effects of conflict on their children and the many alternatives to litigation through family dispute resolution.

The focus of this reform is on improving the efficiency of a service that many families would be wiser to avoid altogether.

“This single new court, the FCFCA, will help Australian families resolve their disputes faster by improving the efficiency of the existing split family law system, reducing the backlog of matters before the family law courts, and driving faster, cheaper and more consistent dispute resolution,”

“This significant structural change is designed to dramatically increase the number of family law matters finalised each and every year, and reduce the backlog of unresolved cases on hand at any one time. The purpose of the reform is to ensure Australian families experience shorter waiting times, and a reduction in the potential for conflict caused by prolonged and acrimonious family disputes.”

“The FCFCA will have one single point of entry for all federal family law matters to provide a consistent pathway for Australian families needing to have their family law disputes dealt with by court proceedings. Families will have one new court with one set of new rules, procedures and practices designed to ensure that their disputes will be dealt with by the FCFCA in the most timely, informed and cost effective manner possible.”

Christian Porter, Attorney General

We hope that a wider view of the family law system will provide the Attorney General and other decision makers the opportunity to see the benefits of more families not using the family court at all. The best way to reduce the conflict caused by prolonged and acrimonious family disputes is to provide support for families to resolve their disputes themselves with the assistance of professionals rather than handing over their fate to the hands of an overworked family court judge.

Innovations in alternative dispute resolution such as those being offered by the not-for-profit, Interact Support established by Mediation Institute directors can make more of a difference for families that combining courts.  Interact Support has video mediation high conflict family dispute resolution for those couples who are turned away from standard government funded Family Dispute Resolution services as well as Mediator Facilitated Negotiation which is a lower cost method for people who are too high conflict to negotiate directly but unwilling or unable to pay the tens of thousands of dollars that lawyer negotiation typically costs.

Integral to the Interact Support High Conflict Family Dispute Resolution Services is the use of the New Ways for Families Course which teaches participants skills to help them to be better negotiators and about the genuine, long-term harm that exposure to family conflict causes children.

Many people are being advised by their lawyers to file for exemptions to Family Dispute Resolution and go straight to court for parenting matters and to bypass any discussion of family dispute resolution for property matters.

It is disappointing to see the assumption in the Attorney Generals statement that all of the cases in the Family Court are there because the families can’t resolve their issues without legal intervention in the form of going to Family Court.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that systems in place to assist those families who cannot resolve matters without legal intervention are as efficient as possible and that the system itself does not exacerbate the trauma of family breakup, especially for children.”

Christian Porter, Attorney General

A reduction of the 22,000 cases that go to family court would be easy to achieve simply by tightening up the exemption rules and raising the threshold for access to the court and requiring mandatory alternative dispute resolution for property matters.

Education for lawmakers, lawyers and separating families about the potential for people to be empowered to make their own decisions regarding how to care for their children and how to divide up their assets is needed as well.

It is ludicrous that government funded services offering 2 hours of “free” family dispute resolution are seen to fail if they can’t help a couple to sort out their issues in that time and the only other alternative is to spend 2 or more years fighting in court.

The customised, nuanced and highly individual agreements that can be reached in Family Dispute Resolution take a little more time to achieve than is generally provided by the publicly funded system and yet not enough people automatically think of engaging an independent Family Dispute Resolution practitioner to work with their family to achieve this outcome. Once agreement is reached getting enforceable consent orders is a relatively simple, administrative process.


Mediation Institute Webinars

Mediation Institute Students and Members can now see upcoming webinars on the Events tab on our website.

If you know the event you are looking for you can search or if you are not sure you can browse the calendar view or click on the View As button and view a list or day view.

We will progressively populate the event calendar with Mediation Institute events as well as conferences and other events of interest to our members.

What if I can’t make it to an event live?

Tutorials are recorded and uploaded to the Members area and a link is usually also added to the event in the calendar.

Events such as Supervision must be attended live as we may discuss sensitive issues that would be inappropriate to record.

CHC81115 Grad Dip FDR Flyer

CHC81115 Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution


The CHC81115 – Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution provides the skills and knowledge you need to facilitate mediation for couples and families as they go through separation and divorce. You will be helping them to reach parenting agreements, property settlements and to resolve their co-parent and wider family relationship issues.

This course provides in-depth learning on family violence and conflict, it’s effect on children and the family law environment for separating couples.

This qualification provides the training you will need to fulfill the role of family dispute resolution practitioner (FDRP). When accredited you will provide mediation services and interventions for families who need assistance with parenting agreements and property settlements as well as those who are experiencing high levels of relationship conflict and may be involved in the family law system.

Graduates accredit with the Attorney Generals Department and then go on to work independently, as a contractor or employee of a FDR Service.

The legal and ethical obligations of Family Dispute Resolution practitioners under the Family Law Act 1975 and the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008 are part of the course curriculum.

On completion of the qualification, graduates can apply for registration with the Attorney General’s Department to practice as FDRPs under the Family Law Act 1975. Once registered with The Attorney General’s Department, graduates can also apply for accreditation under the National Mediator Accreditation Standards (NMAS) by applying to Mediation Institute, a Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body (RMAB).

Mediation Institute will deliver this qualification in partnership with RTO Inspiritive.


This qualification is delivered fully online or with the option of blended learning, combining online learning with face to face sessions in Brisbane, Melbourne or Perth. A Supervised work placement is mandatory.


Approximately 50 weeks online learning and a 50-hour compulsory work placement which may commence as soon as you are assessed as competent in simulation for each skillset.

  • Point of Difference: This course duration is an estimate only. Students can complete the course at your own pace. We expect the majority to complete in significantly less than 50 weeks and you have up to 24 months to complete your studies if life gets in your way.

Employment Opportunities

Upon successful completion of this qualification, graduates may gain employment in Community Services Sector roles including:

  • Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP)
  • NMAS Accredited Mediator
  • Manager of an Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (with sufficient experience in management competencies)

Units of Competency

This qualification is made up of 10 units of competency (6 core units and 4 elective units)

Core Units

Code Unit Title
CHCFAM001 Operate in a family law environment
CHCDSP001 Facilitate dispute resolution in the family law context
CHCDSP002 Adhere to ethical standards in family dispute resolution
CHCDSP003 Support the safety of vulnerable parties in family dispute resolution
CHCDFV008 Manage responses to domestic and family violence in family work
CHCFAM002 Work with a child focused approach

Students can complete the core units only option in order to accredit with the Attorney Generals Department however the electives provide valuable additional training in working with high conflict families.

Elective Units

Code Unit
CHCPRP007 Work within a clinical supervision framework
CHCDFV012 Make safety plans with people who have been subjected to domestic and family violence
CHCDFV007 Work with users of violence to effect change
CHCFAM007 Assist clients to develop parenting arrangements

Entry Requirements

Entry to this qualification is open to individuals who have one or more of the following qualifications or experience:

Have an undergraduate degree or higher qualification in psychology, social work, law, conflict management, dispute resolution, family law mediation or equivalent

  • Have the mediation skill set from the Community Services (CHC) Training Package
  • Are a NMAS Accredited Mediator
  • Can provide documented evidence of previous experience in a dispute resolution environment, in a job role involving the self-directed application of knowledge, exercise of independent judgement and decision-making, and a range of technical and other skills.

Technological Requirements

This course is delivered online with a significant component of Video Role Play practice. To participate in this course you will need:

  • A computer or laptop with a reliable internet connection (sufficient for video meetings)
  • A fast and secure web browser
  • A web camera and head set – a web camera is standard on laptops and able to be plugged into a computer

If you have any doubts about your technology book in for a video meeting with our team to test your set up.

Contact the office on office@medaitioninstitute.edu.au with a suggestion as to suitable meeting times.

Mandatory Work Placement

You have the opportunity of a minimum of 50 hours work placement with this qualification.

  • Point of Difference: Mediation Institute does not short change your learning by counting simulations or workshops as being client work.

With Mediation Institute you will have real work experience with real clients including taking enquiries, following up with real clients during and after family dispute resolution, undertaking safety planning, providing post separation parenting coaching (New Ways for Families Course Coaching) and of course, co-mediating in Family Dispute Resolution.

During your work placement, you will work with a minimum of five families with family dispute issues including the need for parenting plans, property settlements and the resolution of specific issues.

  • Point of Difference: All client work will be under the direct or indirect supervision of an accredited FDRP and will include Video Mediation and phone contact with clients.

Your work placement is part of the learning program and captures a range of evidence to support a decision of competency. Students and supervisors are provided with a comprehensive work placement guide and structured supervision program to support positive supervision and effective learning.

If any required evidence is not available in the workplace due to the mix of your clients following the work placement additional simulations or assessment may be required. The learning plan identifies the specific tasks you need to complete during your work placement.

Training Methods

  • Online learning – reading course material and supplementary material
  • Webinars and watching recorded webinars if you are unable to participate live
  • Access to the New Ways for Families – Parenting after Separation Course
  • Use of the Family DOORS risk screening tool
  • Incorporating content from the AVERT Family Violence program
  • Research projects as part of your supervision unit (elective)
  • Forum and web meeting discussions
  • Role plays and simulations (Video Role Plays and face to face if you attend a workshop)
  • On the job learning during your work placement

Assessment methods

  • Knowledge questions
  • Activities (Activities, Projects and Case Studies)
  • Role Play and Simulation Observations
  • Work place observations – third party supervisor reports
  • Co-assessment discussion between your workplace supervisor and course assessor (unless your supervisor is a qualified assessor)
  • Point of Difference: Students will be allocated as “clients” and taken through the whole FDR process from first contact to developing a parenting plan in simulation and then have the opportunity to do the same process with simulated “clients” as the FDR. Real, experiential simulations not unrealistic role plays.

As a guide we recommend that you allow a minimum of 8 hours a week for your studies – 3 hours for role plays and other interactive activities and 5 hours for coursework, reading and completing assessments.

Work Placement

  • Point of Different: Mediation Institute arranges work placement for students with Interact Support. interact.support and ongoing contract work with Interact Support is available once qualified.

Recognition of Prior Learning

You may be eligible for recognition of prior learning for this qualification. Please see our RPL Kit for more details.

NMAS Accreditation as a Mediator

Mediation Institute is a Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body (RMAB) under the Australian National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS). This course meets the threshold training, education and assessment requirements as set out in the NMAS. those requirements.


If you need Mediation Institute’s assistance with your work placement the course fee is:

  • Full Qualification (10 Units) with Mediation Institute providing the work placement – $11,900
  • Core units only (6 units) with Mediation Institute providing the work placement – $8,900

If you DO NOT need Mediation Institute’s assistance with your work placement the course fee is:

  • Full Qualification (10 Units) without Mediation Institute providing the work placement – $8,900
  • Core units only (6 units) without Mediation Institute providing the work placement – $6,900

Enrollments and Further Information

We commenced enrollment in February 2018 and you will be able to join the course up until the end of November 2018. We take a two-month break from enrollments over December and January. Don’t miss out on joining the Class of 2018. 


Conflict of Interest waiver

From time to time as a mediator, you may be in a position to make a decision about whether to proceed with mediation or FDR when there is a potential conflict of interest.

If there was a genuine conflict of interest you would be required by ethical standards to withdraw from the proposed mediation and hopefully help the client to find another provider.

If you are not sure if there is a genuine conflict of interest have a look at these resources.

Basically, if a prior relationship or some personal benefit that may flow to the mediator is likely to bias the process either for or against one of the participants then you have a conflict of interest.

As part of your Mediation Institute Membership, you can always give us a call for a quick 2nd opinion if you’re facing an ethical dilemma.

Believe me, it is much less work for us to have a chat than it is to investigate a complaint about professional conduct so we are happy to be a sounding board.

What do you do if there is something that raises a red flag but you genuinely believe that you will be able to facilitate the dispute resolution process without bias?

Waiver of a potential conflict of Interest form

You MUST disclose to the potential clients as soon as you become aware of the potential conflict of interest.

If you AND the clients believe that the potential conflict of interest is not going to be an issue you can proceed however you should document that agreement to proceed with a potential conflict of interest waiver form.

There isn’t a standard form provided by any authority however we have an example of the one used by Interact Support in the Mediation Institute Members course area.

Example Document for FDR – Click here to go to the file. 

You will have to log in to the member’s course to access the file https://mi.study247.online/courses/9/ 


Other examples wanted

Would you like to contribute to our file resources?

You can. Just log in and go to the files area.

Navigate to Templates and Sample Documents => Conflict of Interest and then click on Upload (top right of the screen) you should be able to upload your example document to share with your fellow members.

If you are better at mediation than you are at technology just email your sample document through to us and we’ll upload it for you.




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