What is a mediation role play?

What is a mediation role play?

What is a mediation role play?

What is a mediation role play?  We answer this question in this blog post because it can be really hard for students to know what is and isn’t an acceptable standard when it comes to their studies. This is especially true when the are leaning something that requires practical skills development and competency based assessment.

When it comes to Mediation Training the standards are very clear. This post is intended to make sure that anyone considering a provider for NMAS Accreditation Training or the Mediation Skill Set are very clear about what the standards are and what you are buying.

Mediation Skill Set

We’ve just had someone swap to Mediation Institute for the NMAS course from another provider who has been supposedly training her for months in the mediation skill set. I say supposedly because she had not done any live interactive role plays that she was able to claim as credits towards her course with Mediation Institute.

The Mediation Skill Set is a skill set under the Vocational Education and Training framework. It is part of the certificate IV in Community Services qualification. Mediation Institute has the capacity to train the skill set through our partnership with Inspiritive but we can’t economically do so in comparison with the NMAS Accreditation Course.

That is because the assessment requirements are higher than for NMAS standards requiring evidence of having worked with five mediations (simulated role plays is fine). The requirements for NMAS is only three as the mediator plus the assessment.

We are aware that some RTO providers are offering this Skill Set at a very low fee in order to provide their students with a pre-requisite qualification to the CHC81115 – Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution qualification. We caution students to do their due diligence.

You would expect that all VET training is to the required standard but unfortunately despite the many problems with quality in the industry the regulator of Vocational Training and Education still does not always protect students from sub-standard training.

We strongly encourage any student considering VET training to read the qualification requirements. Training.gov.au is a joint initiative of the Australian and State and Territory Governments and is designed to make publicly visible the requirements for training in all Vocational Qualifications.

The CHCSS00110 – Mediation Skill Set is made up of three units of competence. It is targeted at Certificate IV level. In order to find out what the assessment requirements are you will have to go to the individual units to know what content should be in the course and also the assessment requirements.

There must be evidence that the candidate has facilitated at least 5 different mediations with clients with varying circumstances and types of dispute, with at least 1 co-mediation.

Here is a link to one of the units quoted above – Training Details CHCMED002

One of the other units requires practice role plays of the pre-mediation process.

This can be done in simulation (role plays) but must cover all the requirements of the unit so you’d expect about 90 minutes would be a minimum requirement for the mediation role plays in order to demonstrate all of the assessable skills.

There would also be the need for practice role plays as a role player as well as part of the learning process.

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NMAS Accreditation

National Mediator Accreditation is actually not a VET qualification. It is offered under a voluntary industry standard established by the Mediators Standards Board (www.msb.org.au)

The Standards for NMAS Accreditation Courses require the student to participate in 9 role plays (a minimum of three as the mediator).

From the point of view of the training provider there isn’t a lot of cost in people being role players. We really only need to count the number of role plays with mentoring / feedback required when we are determining our delivery costs.

The course is either delivered as a workshop or series of workshops or online.

Some workshop trainers do wandering feedback during the early role plays but the best ratio of trainers to students is one to three.

Some training providers get students do recorded role plays at home with friends and relatives or other students online for later feedback.

We think that is poor instructional design. We usually offer our course fully online although sometimes offer blended delivery or role play days.

We really like doing online video role plays because it is easy to record the role play so the student can review themselves against the feedback and pick up some of the areas for improvement in a way that overcomes their cognitive resistance. I’ve often provided feedback to a student only to have them not really believe that they did or didn’t do something. That is understandable as in the moment it is hard to distinguish between what you intended to do and what you actually did. Recording the video role play is the trainers best friend in this regard and really helps students with calibrating and improving their skills.

We think that all of the role plays are important so we want to be providing live coaching for every one.

Allowing students to do role play and then only giving feedback later to one student was something we used to do when we initially started training. We quickly discovered that it isn’t a good idea and now provide live mentoring and feedback. We found that we got “thought viruses” where one student would do something that looked OK to the others but was inappropriate. Then the students who were role players would incorporate that, wrong but OK looking, thing and also make the mistake spreading it to other role players.

The other problem with delayed marking of role play is that they take as long or longer than the role play itself (90 minutes) and that is a big chunk of time to find in a day to do a review. It is really easy to get a backlog of videoed role play marking if you are not doing live assessment so students wait days or even weeks for feedback.

Making the right choice requires asking the right questions

Mediation facilitation is a unique skill and because it is a skill it requires practice to learn. That’s the bottom line when it comes to learning mediation. If you are just reading theory and discussing concepts you will not learn to facilitate mediation.

Just because you are a counsellor, lawyer, psychologist, manager or whatever other roles you’ve done, it doesn’t make you a competent mediator.

Facilitating mediation is a unique skill set. It is difficult to facilitate communication between people in conflict, assisting those who are less articulate to share their needs and interests and helping those who are more dominate to listen and take onboard other peoples needs in order to get a sustainable resolution. Helping people to negotiate while at the same time remaining impartial and avoiding biasing the process through your action or inaction is a really valuable and increasing in demand skill set but knowing what to do in theory isn’t the same thing as being able to do it.

I have successfully trained hundreds of people and know just how hard it is to unlearn advocacy and counselling skills enough to use similar techniques in a new way in the mediation context.

If a training provider is offering to reduce the number of role plays or train you to be a mediator without role plays you need to be aware that the training doesn’t comply with NMAS or VET standards.Unless they are offering a low cost awareness program it is not worth doing in an industry where there are standards requiring competence through role plays.

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New Student Feedback

I mentioned that this article was triggered by conversations with a new student. The original enquiry was for our NMAS Assessment service but although she’d been on their course for almost six months she didn’t have evidence of any role plays at all. There were none that she’d done as a role player and the one that she’d done with her family members was still waiting on feedback so nothing to show for it in order to get credits towards her NMAS course and certainly not eligible for assessment against the NMAS Standards.

This is what she shared with us.

Thank you for your time over the phone and for registering me in your Mediator Training. I appreciate your insights and approach. I have since had a call back from [the other training provider – name removed] who have said they could complete my role play, assessment and accreditation in time – however I am no longer comfortable that the quality of their course is at the level it should be, and would prefer to re-do the course through you and do the full role plays properly and live, not video recorded with friends and submitted for their later review!!

My motivation is to become a great mediator, not just to check the boxes and short cut to accreditation, so I see the value in doing things properly through you and am happy to now be trained by the Mediation Institute!

I was really surprised when she called back wanting to enroll after I’d had to tell her that we could not offer her the opportunity to be assessed for NMAS as her training was non-compliant.

I felt really bad doing it considering the amount of time and money she’d wasted on a course that wasn’t doing what it should have done and certainly wasn’t trying to sell her on our course.

The feedback after the first Mediation Institute role play she did with us was.

All going really well thanks. The role play yesterday was great – such a good learning experience. I see why you can’t give accreditation for the [other training provider] course now – chalk & cheese! I learnt more in that one mediation & debrief from Ken than I did in their whole course

We established Mediation Institute to provide flexible, accessible, quality training for people who want to be dispute resolution professionals. I’m not saying that Mediation Institute is the only reputable provider of mediation training. There are some other very good providers of this type of training but if you are interested in becoming a great mediator then you need to ask questions about how the training is delivered, the number of role plays that you will be doing, how they will occur and how your skills will be developed and assessed.

If they don’t know or can’t satisfy you that there is appropriate support available keep looking for a provider. If your instincts are telling you that you’re talking to a sales person who’ll tell you whatever you want to hear, ask for it in writing. Of course we’d be delighted to provide the training for you and are more than happy to answer any questions you have about mediation or the industry –  Mediation Institute NMAS Training and Accreditation Course.

You can see from our calendar we definitely have role plays going on and if you have any doubts about the use of video mediation get in touch and we’ll allow you to come along to one of the role plays as an observer. Mi Events Calendar

Requirements for NMAS Accreditation

Requirements for NMAS Accreditation

What is NMAS Accreditation?

The NMAS is the National Mediator Accreditation System for Australia. It was established and maintained by the Mediators Standards Board.

Under the NMAS the process and requirements for NMAS Accreditation is prescribed.  If you did your NMAS Training with Mediation Institute you will have been prompted to read the NMAS in it’s entirety during your course.

You can access the NMAS as a downloadable PDF on the Mediators Standards Board Website.

What are the requirements for NMAS Accreditation?

You must have completed a 38 hour NMAS Course or equivalent training and then completed an assessment for competence. 

There is an alternative pathway if you are an experienced mediator. In the experience qualified pathway you do not have to have completed a course  you can provide evidence of your experience and pass an assessment. 

Review our NMAS Training for the requirements.


Accreditation Pathway

Requirements for NMAS Accreditation

Image courtesy of the Mediators Standards Board

Step 1: Complete a Training Program in accordance with NMAS Approval Standards Part I, Section 2.3. Training is a minimum of 38 hours and requires 9 mediation role plays within a 24 month period prior to assessment. 

Step 2: Achieve Competent Grading in an Assessment once you have completed your training course you must pass an assessment conducted in accordance with the NMAS Approval Standards Part I, Section 2.4. Mediation Institute offers these two steps in a single train and assess course as well as the option for assessment only if you have completed your training elsewhere.

Step 3: Apply to an RMAB such as Mediation Institute for NMAS Accreditation. You must apply for accreditation within 6 months of completing your assessment and provide the necessary evidence to show that you are eligible to apply.

Step 4: Your name will be added to the National Register by Mediation Institute once your NMAS Accreditation is approved.

  • Application Form Required

There are criteria for accreditation as a mediator in addition to the training and assessment requirement.

You must:

  • Be of good character and prove that by providing 2 references or other evidence
  • Disclose if you have been disqualified from any form of professional practice
  • Disclose any criminal convictions
  • Disclose any impairment which could influence your capacity to discharge your obligations in a competent, honest and professional manner.
  • Disclose if you have ever been refused NMAS Accreditation or renewal or had your accreditation suspended or lapsed.
  • Provide evidence of professional indemnity insurance or cover
  • Download our application form for full information

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.


Hosted NMAS Accreditation Course

Mediation Institute now offers the opportunity for organisations to arrange a blended delivery NMAS Accreditation Course through a hosted workshop model.

How does it work?

Mediation Institute provides this opportunity for organisations who have 3 or more students who they want to train as NMAS Accredited Mediators.

You provide the venue and pay for any travel that is required for our trainers to go to site and we provide the blended delivery. The workshop is designed as a practical role play opportunity and includes three days of intensive practice with three role plays scheduled each day plus Q&A sessions, discussions and exploration of the role of mediation in your business.

You can enroll more students however the need to be in multiples of three people (the role play tri’s)

If you do not have multiples of threes consider hosting for students from other organisations or individuals who want this skill set. Mediation Institute pays a rebate of $150 for each student who you host from another organisation to cover catering and incidental costs.

Mi Blended Delivery Model

Blended delivery means that part of the training is online and part is at the workshop. Our method is to teach theory through eLearning and skills development through video or face to face role plays.

  • When students enroll they will be enrolled in the online learning and can get started
  • They are required to participate in a minimum of three video mediation role plays including one as the mediator before the workshop
  • During the workshop there will be two practice days and an assessment day

Request More Information

14 + 4 =

Elearning Mediation Training

eLearning Mediation Training is a specialty area for Mediation Institute.

We provide training for people who want to become dispute resolution professionals but who can’t afford five days straight of training typically offered by other training providers.  Our approach takes a little longer but provides a more structured and well-paced approach to learning allowing time for reflection, discussion and application not typically available in the fast-paced environment of a workshop.

Our belief is that one size does not fit all, especially when it comes to learning.  eLearning provides greater flexibility than workshop training and we think that is valuable.

Who is this course for?

The course is for anyone wanting to become a professional mediator in Australia. It is best suited for those who work full time and don’t want to give up a week of holidays or earning, those who are at home mums or dads and those living in regional and rural areas who don’t want the expense of traveling to a major center for a week of training.

Mediation Institute is the mediation training specialist and services are provided by mediators for mediators. We do not have any sales staff or others working with us who are not fully trained and accredited mediators.

That means that anyone you speak with knows the industry, the skills you need to be a professional mediator and will tell you the truth in response to your questions.

How can you train skills by eLearning?

Mediation Institute uses the same video mediation tools that professional mediators use with real clients to provide video mediation training. The hard part of mediation training is learning the facilitative and neutral role that you must take as a mediator.  That requirement along with being able to facilitate the structured mediation process are what you will learn during the course through practice video mediation role plays.

We don’t have to teach you how to be in a room with clients. We give you credits for that if you are over 18 and have previously worked!

Training outcome:  eligibility to complete the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS) assessment

Course duration:

  • 40 hours including a weekly commitment of 5 hours of video tutorials and role plays and 5 hours of self-paced study. Daytime and Evening training options.
  • You can fast track by committing to 9 hours per week of webinar and role play activity.

Course Commencement date: the first of each month.

Course Cost: $1,999 + $500 for Assessment = total training and assessment fee of $2,499

Accreditation as a NMAS Mediator requires an application form, proof of good character and professional indemnity cover and costs $320 for two years with Mediation Institute including your NMAS Accreditation, Free Professional Development Webinars and mentoring and an approved External Complaints Management Service.

Training Schedule  

  • Monday’s – 1-hour webinar (or one hour video if you can’t make the webinar live)
  • Tuesday’s – 2-hour role play – day and/or evening schedule
  • Wednesday – self-paced learning using our award-winning eLearning program and the Mediation and Communication Skills Manual
  • Thursday’s – 2-hour role play – day and/or evening schedule

Course Content

  • The National Mediation Accreditation System and becoming an NMAS Accredited Mediator
  • The Requirements for Accreditation as a Mediator
  • The Dynamics of Conflict
  • Ethical Standards
  • Pre-Mediation
  • Mediation Process
  • Practical Application – 9 video mediation role plays

 What happens if I miss a live training webinar session?

If you miss a webinar you can watch a video of the content but we encourage you to attend so that you can enjoy the interaction with other students and ask questions live.  You can contact the trainers throughout your studies with any questions that arise during your self-study.

If you miss a role play your course will take longer to complete.

How long do I have to complete the course?

You will need one month (unless you double up and do four role plays a week). You have three months to complete and can ask for an extension if necessary.

Who do I speak to if I have questions?

You can call

  • Joanne Law – Director of Studies on 0401 293 500 or
  • Ken Speakman – Director of Applied Learning on 0404 072 330

How do I enroll?

You can enroll online – https://www.mediationinstitute.edu.au/product/nmas-mediator-accreditation-course/ or download an application form here. NMAS Enrolment Form 4.2018 v1

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