The Australian Family Law System Review has reached the next stage with the release of the Discussion Paper on the 2nd October 2018.
What is the Review?
The review is being undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission to review the Family Law System in Australia. The discussion paper makes 124 proposals and asks 33 questions which you can comment on as part of the community consultation.
The ALRC invites submissions in response to the proposals, questions and analysis in the Discussion Paper by 13 November 2018.
About the Discussion Paper
The discussion paper is a 357 page document that is made up of the following sections
- Executive summary
- Education, Awareness and Information
- Simpler and Clearer Legislation
- Getting Advice and Support
- Dispute Resolution – including expanding the availability of FDR, FDR in property and financial matters and supporting further development of FDR and LADR models
- Reshaping the Adjudication Landscape
- Children in the Family Law System
- Reducing Harm
- Additional Legislative Issues
- A skilled and Supported Workforce
- Information Sharing
- System Oversight and Reform Evaluation
We are in the process of reviewing the document in relation to the proposed changes regarding Family Dispute Resolution for Mediation Institute and the proposed changes with regards to Information and Support for Interact Support
If you have specific comments about either of these areas that you would like to share with us as we put together our response please use the form on our Contact Us page.
More Information and to download the Discussion Paper
This short video narrated by Mediation Institute Director of Studies, Joanne Law, explains why mediation works.
Why mediation works from Mediation Institute and Interact on Vimeo.
This post is a summary of a TED talk of interest or relevance to Mediators. The ten tips apply well to your role as a mediator in helping people to have better conversations just as much as they do in your everyday life having conversations with your family, friends and acquaintances.
10 ways to have a better conversation
10 Ways to have a better conversation is a talk from TEDxCreativeCoast in May 2015 by Cleste Headlee
1 Be Present
It is really important to be present. Not thinking about the past. Not thinking about what you’re going to say. Not thinking about what needs to go on your to do list or what’s for dinner tonight.
Being present is binary and something very important that you can give someone else when you are in a conversation with them. Being present is not something you can fake. You are either present and listening to them or you’re not. Multi tasking and half listening is not being half present.
2 Don’t Pontificate
Pontificate means to preach or state your opinion without any possibility for push back, argument or discussion. As a mediator, except in the case of procedural matters you wouldn’t be stating your opinion anyway but even in that regard. Check in. Make sure that they understand and agree with the confidentiality provisions, ground rules and other aspects of your opening statements.
Don’t allow the parties to pontificate either. If you have someone who is weaker and finds it difficult to ask questions ask them for them. Clarifying questions, open ended probing questions and curiosity about their beliefs and values is really important.
3 Use open ended questions
Use the 5 W’s and H questions. Open ended questions start with who, what, where, when, why and how? Complicated questions, which contain a lot of content result in yes / no answers. “What was that like?” “How does that feel?” give you much more interesting and informative answers than “Was that difficult?” “Were you angry?”
4 Go with the flow
Keep listening and stay present. Don’t get caught up with your prepared questions or stories that come to mind and stop listening.
Use the structure of the process to manage the time you have available but don’t prevent productive conversation because it doesn’t fit in with the agreed agenda or because they are reaching agreement on a point of contention and you think they should still be in the exploration phase.
Allow the life of the conversation some breathing space.
5 If you don’t know, say that you don’t know
Be confident enough to admit that you don’t know something rather than pretending or assuming.
6 Don’t equate your experience with theirs
Your experience is not the same as their’s. It is not about you and as a mediator you should not be sharing personal information. That is not a good way to build rapport with parties as your experiences will be inevitably more similar to one than the other and could give a perceived sense of bias if you start sharing your experiences.
Try to steer the parties away from competing experience. Sometimes someone will share an emotion or experience and the other will start competing with their own emotions and experiences. Discourage this and encourage acknowledgement of what the first speaker has shared. It is much more powerful in terms of building empathy than the other.
7 Try not to repeat yourself
Don’t keep repeating yourself in order to make a point. If someone doesn’t agree no matter how many times you say the same thing (even if in slightly different ways) they are still not going to agree.
As the mediator if the parties start repeating themselves you may need to use a summary of the relative perceptions then park the issue and move on to another agenda item or a reframe to shift the perspectives of the parties. Allowing them to go over and over the same point is wasting their time with you.
As the mediator you will repeat yourself in terms of the process. This is important but keep it brief and avoid pontificating!
8 Stay out of the weeds
“The weeds” are the dates, details and minute points that are not really relevant. This is particularily important during the parties opening statements. They will often want to get right into the detail that really isn’t needed. Once you have a general idea of the issue they want to resolve, ask one or two open questions to clarify, do a summary and then move them on.
Listening is the most important skill that you can develop. As the mediator your job is to help the parties to listen and pay attention to the other party.
10 Be brief
Don’t allow things to drag out too much. Your parties have a limited amount of time with you and allowing anything to drag on too much is not providing them with the services they have paid for.
Colleagues from India who are coordinating the Indian Mediation Awareness Week 2018 are seeking assistance in the form of a Survey on Mediation for Mediators.
According to the contact mediation is not legislated for in Indian Legislation.
Indian Mediation Week has been recognized by the Central Government and the Supreme Court, we are working to bring a change and to simplify the methods of dispute resolution.
Please take a few moments to complete especially if you work in Commercial Mediation.
The Link to the Survey is – Survey Link
The are hoping to complete a draft report on the 5th September so please complete today if you can. Get a cup of coffee and you’ll have completed it well before you drink it.
Even if you complete it after the 5th September I’m sure they will find the feedback beneficial.
As most of our members and readers should know by now there is a review underway of the Family Law System by the Australian Law Reform Commission.
The Submissions to the Issues Paper are now being progressively published.
This may or may not make interesting reading but if you want to have a look at who has put in submissions and what their attitudes are you can read what has been released to date here – Submissions
The next stage after all of the submissions are reviewed is the release of the Discussion Paper and call for submissions and consultation on it’s recommendations which will start in 0ctober 2018 and close mid December 2018.
The Report is due to be delivered to the Attorney General on the 31st March 2019.