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Nmas To Amdras

Goodbye NMAS, Hello AMDRAS

The Mediator Standards Board (MSB) is the organisation that maintains the national accreditation standards for Mediators in Australia.

The board has been undertaking an extensive review of the current National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS) Standards which has included research and consultation, a report and a development process. The result is the proposed AMDRAS. You can download the AMDRAS here.

Mediation Institute Director Joanne Law was invited to join the MSB board in 2022 along with several other new board members to assist with the work required. In this presentation, Joanne provides a high-level overview of some of the major changes proposed.

November 2023 Presentation

An additional consultation by Joanne Law was help on the 8th November 2023. You can watch the recording here – Watch on Vimeo

Visit the MSB website to find out about presentations by other board members www.msb.org.au or sign up below to attend a Zoom consultation and information meeting about the drafting of new national mediator standards.

Online meetings have been organised on a national, State by State basis but don’t be limited by your location, all are welcome. 

NMAS to AMDRAS - Presentation Transcript

Joanne Law: Hello and welcome. This recording is a presentation about the outcomes of the review of the National Mediator Accreditation System in Australia and recommendations for the Australian Mediator and Dispute Resolution Accreditation System, the AMDRAS.

[00:00:20] Before I proceed, I’d like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Australia, and pay respects to Elders past, present, and emerging, and particularly acknowledge any First Nations people that are watching this. I come to you not from that country from east coast of Australia in the lands of the Gunaikurnai people.

[00:00:44] I’m Joanne Law, Director of Mediation Institute, a Mediator Standards Board member since 2022. If you have any questions about this presentation or you would like to arrange for me or one of the other board members to present to your group or organization, please get in touch either, directly, or you can contact the Mediator Standards Board through the website which is msb. org. au. Just to give you a little bit of context, the current standards were seriously contemplated in the year 2000. There was a lot of work. done by leading mediators to establish an accreditation system and that resulted in the first version of the standards and the establishment of the mediator standards board about 10 years later after that consultation.

[00:01:45] The second version of the National Mediator Accreditation System was released with some the first version. And then in 2020, 20 years after the start of this process, the NMAS Review was undertaken. So there was some research undertaken by Resolution Resources.

[00:02:08] The Mediator Standards Board Review Committee was then formed and they’ve developed a draft AMDRAS Standards. Since 2022 into 2023 the board has worked on those standards and we released a draft version in August 2023. There’s a consultation period available talking with any stakeholders interested in doing so over the coming months closing off before the end of the year in December. The new version of the standards, the AMDRAS, is projected to replace the NMAS or NEMAS, depending on how you like to pronounce it, in 2024. There will be a transition period which will allow further sector to adapt to the changes.

[00:03:01] What was identified in the research was a need to provide better recognition of the diversity of non determinative dispute resolution, for this sector and to have a way to differentiate the different experience levels of dispute resolution practitioners and also, some of the practices that are I guess you could say non standard mediation, but still fall within the realm of non determinative practice.

There was also a clear request for more support and guidance from the Mediator Standards Board from the mediation sector. We had over 800 mediators and industry training and accreditation representatives who contributed to the review and it, uh, also encompassed some research into, other sectors and jurisdictions.

[00:03:55] So what’s resulted is the AMDRAS. Rather than being a single document, it’s now in parts. The core Part of the AMDRAS document is made up of, eight sections, or parts. One is a bit of an overview. We’ve introduced some definitions, glossary and interpretation of terms. There’s a part that gives information about the objectives and application of the AMDRAS.

[00:04:22] The training and accreditation framework, which is supplemented by Appendix C. The practice standards and professional domains, which is also supplemented by an appendix, recognized providers. These are the people that, train, accredit and, provide, Complaint handling and similar services for, mediators through this system, the National Registrar of, accredited mediators and the AMDRAS board.

[00:04:55] The former system um, national Mediator Accreditation System was made up of six parts. It’s been expanded a little to hopefully clarify further. And then as I mentioned, we have the appendices again, providing more guidance around professional development, code of ethics, the professional skills, ethics, and responsibilities expected of a accredited mediator, and a sample complaint handling process for recognized providers.

[00:05:30] It’s a suggested model policy. It’s not a compulsory policy to adopt, but if you are a provider and you have a different approach to complaint handling, it still needs to be approved by the board. So as I mentioned, we’re in a consultation process. Please pay attention to what’s available.

[00:05:49] There will be face to face and online events happening around the country. With the consultation process, we’re reaching out to members of the board, who are generally organizations such as the training, assessment and accreditation providers, government departments and other stakeholders, to the mediators yourselves, so those you.

[00:06:16] People who are accredited under the system, government, as national accreditation system is referenced in legislation and various other places and anyone else who’s interested. Some of the ways that we are doing this is we’ve been, releasing and we’ll continue to release some press releases.

[00:06:37] We’ve released the documents, there were presentations and the opportunity to discuss at the NMC conference in New Zealand in September. The call for comments is open and you’re able to do that through the Mediators Standards Board website or at any of the, consultations in person or online.

[00:06:59] We really, really want to hear from you.

[00:07:01] Via the website is the best place to submit your written comments. It’s quite, quite a simple address, www.msb.org.au/nmas-review.

[00:07:14] Now, I want to give you just a very brief overview of some of the major changes. Changes to the process to train and accredit mediators. Currently under the NMAS, there is only one level of accreditation. You’re either nationally accredited or you’re not. Under the proposed changes, there’ll be three levels, accredited, mediator, advanced mediator, and leading mediator. There’s also the provision to provide for specialist categories. Nothing is provided in the current standards. What’s proposed for the AMDRAS is that specialist practitioner categories are possible, but the criteria for them will not be determined in isolation by the mediator standards board.

[00:08:01] We’re expecting that will happen in consultation with groups, organizations, specialist practice areas that believe that their process is distinct enough from standard mediation that’s trained to warrant being recognized as a specialist category. the COT, the, certificate of training and the training requirements have changed. They’d go from the current 38 hours of training, to 45 hour certificate of training course. And there’s also more guidance regarding the training. It’s about half theory and half practical.

[00:08:39] So through role plays, but there’s a more expectation that mediators will have a really good grasp of the theory of conflict as well as understanding the scope of the non determinative sector. The certificate of assessment is more defined. At the moment, there’s a 90 minute assessment that needs to be provided by people other than the trainers.

[00:09:06] Under the new system that there, there would be much greater demarcation between the two. The certificate of assessment also requires a written or in other format, theory assessment. And a again, a written assessment may be the easier way. It may not be the. best way in all circumstances and, recognized providers will be able to propose alternative ways of assessing the theoretical understanding of, of applicants.

[00:09:35] There’s also a proposal that the duration of that role play, increases from the 90 minutes, to two to two and a half hours to make sure that there’s a thorough demonstration of every stage in the process. A few more changes in the training and accreditation framework.

[00:09:51] the next level of accreditation, the first level above entry is advanced mediator and there’s a proposal of a new training, a reflective practice group work workshop, which would provide an opportunity to ensure that people working at that advanced mediator accreditation level are participating in reflective practice and ongoing development of their skills and knowledge.

[00:10:23] Recognition of prior learning remains. There are still alternative pathways to recognition of other training that’s not specifically trained in accordance with the standards and also opportunities to have assessment recognized. Some changes, more clarification than significant changes in those those pathways.

[00:10:50] Accreditation, currently there are requirements around the training, the assessment, being of good character, ensuring that there’s a complaint handling service, that there’s professional indemnity insurance, and there’s a payment of fee , that, that goes to the Mediator Standards Board, and in most cases, the accrediting body, With the AMDRAS, there is some clarification, but not necessarily major changes other than specified in the Certificate of Training and the Certificate of Assessment.

[00:11:25] And renewal. Currently, it’s every two years, there’s 25 hours of professional development required. and 25 hours of mediation experience mediation or co mediation or conciliation. In what’s proposed is it remains bi annual so every two years renewing the hours required change. Accredited practitioners, it’s reduced, slightly down to 20 hours and for the advanced or leading mediators it’s increased to 40 hours for both categories, for professional development, it remains at 25 hours per level. The levels of mediator accreditation, for an accredited mediator, this is someone who’s, entry their first accreditation and potentially they remain, people can remain at this level.

[00:12:19] Certificate of training, certificate of assessment and meeting all of the accreditation requirements. An advanced mediator is expected to have two years as an accredited mediator. 40 hours of practice experience and have completed the practicum certificate, which is largely based on reflective practice and the leading mediator six years experience as an advanced mediator.

[00:12:44] 250 practice hours as an advanced mediator and relevant continuing professional development congruent with the role of a leading mediator. So there’s some detail there that you’d might need to have a look at if those are the levels that you’re aspiring to. Now of course there needs to be a transition period because as you can see from entry level it’s two years to become an advanced mediator and then six years as an advanced mediator.

[00:13:16] So that’s an eight year process but we will be really looking forward to hearing your thoughts about what the transition arrangement should be.

[00:13:26] Renewal, for the levels of accreditation, so this is at the renewal stage, hours of non determinative dispute resolution, practice which can include five hours of observation, so in practice that might be three mediations over the, two years, as well as an observation. So not high bar.

[00:13:49] 25 hours of continuing professional development and of course meeting all ongoing ethical obligations. For advanced mediators to renew 40 hours of [00:14:00] mediation or co mediation. An advanced mediator can drop back down to accredited mediator if they haven’t done th e amount of practice.

[00:14:07] 25 hours of CPD and, and ongoing. obligations. With leading mediators. It’s the same number of practice hours, but the continuing professional development includes that leadership role and mentoring.

[00:14:22] So as far as a transition plan, the AMDRAS has quite a lot of flexibility to allow for transition, to the next levels for existing mediators. However, there may be the need to provide some evidence. Guidelines regarding when and how the transition will occur will be developed during the consultation processes.

[00:14:42] there’s also the need most likely for the Mediator Standards Board constitution to be changed, and that may include actually changing the name. So rather than the Mediator Standards Board, it may change to the AMDRAS board. that’s one of the proposals.

[00:14:59] With a specialist practitioner categories, we haven’t prescribed what they would be. some of the areas that we hope will emerge may be conciliation, family dispute resolution, First Nations peacemaking, and potentially some other areas as well.

[00:15:17] another area, where the structure has changed as well as some of the content the practice standards and ethics. AMDRAS, part five, covers the professional domains which what would be regarded as the practice standards, also Appendix 2, which has the PD, Code of Ethics and the Professional Skills, Ethics and Responsibilities Appendices.

[00:15:41] So make sure that you do read the appendices. There are supporting documents there that are relevant.

[00:15:49] The professional domain, so see Appendices 1 and 4 for details. There are 25 professional attributes that are identified [00:16:00] under four professional domains. So professional knowledge, professional skills, professional ethics and responsibilities, and professional development.

[00:16:09] With complaint handling, it’s mentioned , in various parts of the AMDRAS and also in the, complaint handling, draft policy that’s provided as Appendix five.

[00:16:22] The key takeaways, the AMDRAS is made up of both the core document and the appendices. It’s really important that you read all of them and read them in context. The consultation process is an opportunity for the board to refine and improve this version of the standards where necessary. So that we are able to produce the best document possible as the next version of the National Accreditation System in Australia.

[00:16:52] And we believe that the new structure will allow for greater flexibility and transparency as our sector grows, towards continuing professionalisation of dispute resolution work. Thank you and congratulations if you got all the way to the end of this recording. Please, visit the Mediator Standards Board site, make sure you’re on the mailing list, and if you can, Get to one of the live sessions where you’ll be able to ask your questions about any of the proposed changes that you feel You need more clarification or that you think will have unintended consequences Okay. Thank you again. Goodbye

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