Mediation Training is essential for every professional mediator. Training as a lawyer, psychologist, HR specialist or teacher is not sufficient for you to become a good mediator. Mediation requires a unique skill set to be a neutral facilitator of the dispute resolution process.
In Australia mediation training is not sufficient. You also need to be accredited to be a professional mediator or Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.
Minimum accreditation requirements
What is the minimum amount of mediation training you need to be considered a “professional” mediator?
In Australia there is a voluntary minimum standard called the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS) established and maintained by the Mediators Standards Board. (MSB) www.msb.org.au
The MSB delegates responsibility for accrediting mediators to Recognised Mediator Accreditation Bodies (RMAB) such as Mediation Institute.
Don’t use unaccredited Mediators
As a RMAB our job is to assess mediator’s competence against the NMAS Standard and accredit them. Once accredited your name goes on the National Register of Accredited Mediators.
We provide member services and an independent complaint management service for mediators. We provide this for our members but will also accept complaints about non-accredited mediators and those claiming to be mediators as a service to the industry. At the moment anyone can call themselves a mediator and there is no official body policing this.
We strongly encourage the community not to use a mediator who is not on the NMAS Register for workplace, elder, civil or other disputes.
The register is located here https://msb.org.au/mediators
The register allows anyone to look up the name of a person claiming to be a mediator to see if they are actually accredited.
An unaccredited mediator may indicate that they have xx decades of experience, but the reality is they have not made the minimum commitment to be nationally accredited.
They have not had to confirm to their RMAB every two years that they have met the professional development and practice hour requirements for NMAS Accreditation and they may not even have been trained as a mediator.
Don’t use unaccredited Family Law Mediators
The situation for Family Law Mediators is different in that there is a Graduate Diploma level qualification that people are required to complete to become a Family Law Mediator, known as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP).
Just completing the minimum requirements to become a NMAS Accredited Mediator does not give someone the skills and knowledge they need to be a FDRP. Even completing a law degree and NMAS Accreditation does not give a person the skills and knowledge they need to be a FDRP.
In fact the NMAS Accreditation or a Law, Social Work, Psychology or similar degree are pre-requisites just to get into the CHC81115 – Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution Qualification.
You can find out if someone claiming to be a Family Law Mediator or Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner is actually trained and accredited on the Australian Attorney Generals Department maintained register of Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners. https://www.fdrr.ag.gov.au/Search.aspx
Minimum Mediation Training Requirements for Mediators
The minimum training requirements to be a professional mediator depends on the context you want to mediate in.
The minimum standard for Family Law Mediation is a graduate diploma qualification or equivalent.
The minimum standard for a NMAS Mediator is established in the National Mediator Accreditation Standards.
Mediation Training requirements for Mediators
The NMAS Standards set a minimum requirement of 38 hours for mediation training in Australia. You can find out exactly what is required by reading the standards https://msb.org.au/themes/msb/assets/documents/national-mediator-accrediation-system.pdf and a general idea by watching this video.
Mediation Institute provides this mediation training via eLearning and the skills development through Video Mediation.
Our mediation training service caters for people who want a more through course than a workshop or who do not want to take days of work to attend a workshop. Each of the video mediation role plays take two hours plus there are webinars and discussions in addition to the online learning for the theory of conflict resolution and ethical standards required of mediators.
We believe that this style of training theory is superior to workshops where knowledge retention is notoriously low plus it has the benefit of teaching video mediation giving our graduates a significant advantage over competitors who are not digitally competent and only able to offer face to face services.
You can find out more about our NMAS Accreditation Course here – https://www.mediationinstitute.edu.au/nmas-mediator-accreditation-course/
Our mediation training model allows us to keep costs down as we don’t have the overhead of a workshop venue and catering. The total fee is $2,899 including Assessment (be careful as some of our competitors sell the NMAS Course and NMAS Assessment separately).
If you want to do the course for professional development only and not to become NMAS Accredited let us know and we’ll reduce the fee as that will reduce our delivery costs.
The other major difference is that some mediation training providers take no responsibility for the quality of their training. They give you one chance at assessment included in your course fee or charge you for every attempt at your final assessment.
Our approach is that you have paid us to train you. If you require more coaching and mentoring than others that is acceptable. We understand that not everyone learns in the same way or at the same pace and accommodate that in our training design. You can participate in as many role plays as you need and can be re-assessed if required.
We don’t drop the standards to get you through. We, especially Ken Speakman who is our director of applied learning, work with you until you meet the standard.
Training requirements for Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners
The CHC81115 – Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution is a comprehensive course for Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (Family Law Mediators) however there is the option to apply to the Attorney Generals Department with a statement of attainment for the Six Core Units only.
This option is only recommended for those who are upgrading from an undergraduate degree. If you are entering the profession using the experience qualified or NMAS Accredited pathway we encourage you to add a full Graduate Diploma qualification to your CV rather than merely a statement of attainment.
The course as it is intended to be delivered is a really effective blend of theory and practical role plays and work placement however please be aware that some providers are not delivering the qualification as intended.
The requirement is a 50-hour work placement with client work 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 and 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 believes that the role of a FDR Practitioner is one of the most critical in Australian society as we help to keep families safe from family violence by being the first port of call in family conflict.
Facilitating the resolution of family disputes, helping people to separate respectfully and mindfully and always working to make sure that the needs of children are understood and considered is what we teach.
It really is that important and we do not short change our students or their future clients by pretending that role plays are client work or leave them without a guaranteed pathway to complete their 50 hours client work.
If you are interested in becoming a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, please review our course when you are doing your research. There are one or two other courses that also have a high standard however there are others that do not.
You can find out more about our CHC81115 – Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution course here – https://www.mediationinstitute.edu.au/training/chc81115-graduate-diploma-of-family-dispute-resolution/
Our training model also makes use of online learning, webinars and discussion groups, video mediation role plays as well as a short workshop to address the practical issues that relate to working face to face with families in conflict.
Work Placement with Interact Support
Our solution for the practice hours is through Interact Support Incorporated. Interact Support is a social enterprise style not-for-profit that works independent of any government funding. There is an additional fee if placement through Interact is required so if you are working with a service or have a FDR Practitioner acquaintance make sure that you ask them if they will support some or all of your work placement.
Interact Support was established by Mediation Institute directors to provide work placement opportunities for our students and to help people falling through the gaps in the family law system.
We specialise in helping people who are experiencing conflict due to family relationship breakdown as they are not well catered for by the current system. Many of our services are delivered via Video Meeting and Video Mediation as a risk management strategy. Our policy is not to bring people to the same building if there is the risk of violence or if being in the same building would make someone fearful and unable to negotiate effectively.
Our services are provided by Independent Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners who contract with Interact Support for part of their time and run their own full fee businesses the rest. This gives them the opportunity to give back, sell their surplus time and in the case of newly qualified practitioners build their experience and confidence in the industry.
Contracting with Interact Support is an option for all Mediation Institute Family Dispute Resolution Graduates as a part of our initiative to ensure that new entrants to the industry have the mentoring and support they need to develop as professionals.
If you don’t have time to read the full article the take-aways we want you to remember are:
- Only use NMAS Accredited Mediators and Accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners to ensure that they comply with minimum mediation training requirements and professional standards.
- Use the Registers on the MSB Website (Mediators) and Attorney Generals (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners)
- Find the right course for your budget and preferred training style but do your due diligence.
- Do they allow for re-assessment and 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 practicing 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 so please get in touch if you are interested in becoming a professional mediator.
Our NMAS and Grad. Dip. FDR Courses are continual enrollment which means you can enroll and get started as soon as you want. We don’t put a limit on the number of NMAS Mediators we train and have places for a further 12 Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution students for 2018.