NMAS Review: Release 4
31st May 2023 – update from Christopher Boyle – Mediator Standards Board Chair
- The anticipated Special General Meeting of the MSB will now occur in the 2nd half of 2023
- The full report from Resolution Resources including the proposed Draft Code will be published on the Review Website. https://nmasreview.com.au/final-recommendations
- The chair on behalf of the board makes the point in the update that “Although the Board chose to redraft the NMAS rather than establish a Code administered by a Code Administration Committee, the proposed new standards draw strongly from the review findings.” Read Release 4 for more on the rational for not adopting the Code.
The work of Resolution Resources has informed the proposed new standards including delivering:
- greater clarity and focus in training methods and practice
- multiple levels of accreditation
- scope for the introduction of specialisations
- considerable improvements in complaints handling and disciplinary processes with greater involvement of the MSB in those areas and
- an overall lifting of training and accreditation standards.
Further releases will be made in the coming months.
2nd March 2023 – update from Christopher Boyle – Mediator Standards Board Chair.
This information is a summary of the update on the review of the National Mediator Accreditation System following earlier releases of October and December 2022. The purpose is to explain the present state of the Board’s response to the review and the next steps. We will continue to provide further updates as the Board’s work progresses.
While I am a Mediator Standards Board member and a member of the NMAS Review and Training Committees, many of the decisions were made before I joined the board late last year. I am not at liberty to disclose the board-level discussions, however I can share with Mediation Institute members the publicly announced updates by the chair to the member organisations of the National Mediator Accreditation System, of which Mediation Institute is one.
Mediation Institute will provide a link to any information made available on the Mediator Standards Board website.
- “As the Board chose to amend or redraft the NMAS rather than accept the recommendation to establish a Code administered by a Code Administration Committee. … The Board’s Review Committee has instead drafted a proposed replacement for the NMAS, drawing on the Resolution Resources documents and the findings of the review. Those findings in turn were based on research and consultation with the mediation community, including surveys and a series of workshops.” Christopher Doyle, MSB Chair
New Accreditation Levels & Related Changes
- New Accreditation Levels proposed. There will be four levels of accreditation:
- Accredited Mediator
- Advanced Mediator
- Specialist Practitioner
- Leading Practitioner
- Changes to initial accreditation requirements and training:
- Initial requirement – completion of a Certificate of Training – this is a 45-hour course.
- A separate Certificate of Assessment which has prescribed requirements for theory and practical assessment.
- Changes to the requirements for re-accreditation as an Accredited Mediator.
- renewal will continue to be required every two years
- the practice requirements to qualify for renewal will give more credit than at present for such learning experiences as co-mediation, or attending as an observer. This is aimed both at making it easier for newly-qualified mediators to obtain qualifying experience and at encouraging mentorship and other forms of support, to the benefit of all.
- The new Advanced Mediator level will require:
- being an accredited mediator
- the successful completion of a Practicum Certificate of Training – a further 12 hour workshop course delivered in modules over not more than two months.
- 40 hours of mediation practice in the preceding two years.
- The new Specialist Practitioner level is intended to provide recognition for those whose work is based on mediation basic skills but adds particular expertise in an identifiable field of dispute resolution. This category may be considered as a lateral level rather than necessarily a higher level than an Advanced Mediator.
- the board, on the application of interested groups, will identify and recognise areas of specialisation.
- the categories are not presently prescribed but might include Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners, Workplace Conciliators and Indigenous Peacemakers.
- The new Leading Practitioner level will recognise:
- Eminence as a practitioner
- contributions to the profession for example mentoring, coaching and related services or
- contributions to mediation literature
- a significant period of practice experience
The roll out of the new categories may not occur all at once and appropriate processes to allow presently accredited mediators into the new system at the right level.
Constitutional changes are required to implement some of the changes. The legal advice and drafting process is currently underway. It is expected that in the first half of 2023 the Mediator Standards Board will call an extraordinary general meeting for the purpose of putting these proposed changes to their member organisations.
Further updates will be released as work progresses.
Final Recommendations (nmasreview.com.au)
The thirty two page document provides a comprehensive overview of the process and recommendations to the Mediator Standards Board (MSB).
Download the document from the Mediator Standards Board Website – NMAS-review-2020-2022-findings-and-recommendations.pdf (msb.org.au)
The board did not accept all recommendations.
There are three overarching recommendations of the NMAS Review:
- Determine the viability, including ethical implications, of progressing the status of meditation from emerging profession to new profession.
- Adopt a draft code that is modelled on the ACCC voluntary industry framework
- Adopt the Draft Code’s training and accreditation framework (TAF)
Targeted recommendations provide a little more detail:
Targeted Recommendation A: Determine viability, including ethical implications, of progressing status from emerging profession to new profession.
Targeted Recommendation B: Adopt the ACCC voluntary industry code framework in preference to any other industry codes.
Targeted Recommendation C: Adopt the draft Code modelled on the ACCC voluntary industry code framework, including requirements for adminstering compliance the training and accreditation framework (TAF)
- Targeted Recommendation D: Adopt the draft Code modelled on the ACCC’s voluntary industry code framework and it’s associated three-tier complaints scheme.
- Targeted Recommendation E: Adopt the Draft Code’s training and accreditation framework (TAF) to account for the evolution of practice.
- Targeted Recommendation F: Adopt the Draft Code, in particular, the training and accreditation framework (TAF)
- Targeted Recommendation G: The MSB must work directly with First Nations mediators, taking into account issues raised in the First Nations Consultation Memo.
- Targeted Recommendation H: Adopt the Draft Code’s training and accreditation framework (TAF). This will ensure that training and accreditation framework is in place that recognises the value of cultural experience.
- Targeted Recommendation I: Adopt the evidence-based D&I strategies set out in the Draft Code, including strategies recommended within the ACCC voluntary industry code framework.
- Targeted Recommendation J: Adopt the draft Code Definitions.
Download the report for Rational, the limitations of the NMAS that the recommendation seeks to address and greater detail on the recommendation.
The NMAS Review Effectiveness Survey results are available in three part downloads.
Previous Update from Mediation Institute 31.8.2020
In a press release on the 31st August 2020 the Mediators Standards Board (MSB) announced that Resolution Resources has been awarded the contract to review the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS).
The NMAS sets the professional standards for the training and assessment of mediators throughout Australia. Accreditation as a mediator is administered by Recognised Mediator Accreditation Bodies (RMABs).
Mediation Institute is one of the 25 organisations in Australia offering training to NMAS Standards and one of the 19 organisations that offer both training and assessment and are also a Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body. We will be engaging in the review process as actively as we are permitted and keep our members updated with opportunities to engage when, as it appears, the team from Resolution Resources will open up opportunities for wider consultation.
If you would like to find out more about training with Mediation Institute visit our NMAS Course page.
An evidence-based review process
We wish Danielle Hutchinson and Emma-May Litchfield of Resolution Resources all the best in the review and consultation process and hope that it will result in greater clarity in some of the ambiguously drafted clauses in the current version of the NMAS. The team at Resolution Resources say they are excited to be offered the opportunity to lead this very important work. “It provides the chance for us to introduce an evidence based approach to reviewing the NMAS standards that is well established in other disciplines, yet only in its early stages of application in dispute resolution.”
We are excited to see what their interpretation of an evidence-based approach to our industry will be. Bianca Keys says, “Mediation and associated processes are now firmly part of the rich fabric of our society. We must ensure that benchmarks for the training and best practice of mediators evolve and reflect the changing times and include some prefiguring of what is to happen in the future. By engaging independent professionals with advanced research and consultative experience, we hope to build a solid evidence-based approach to this crucial system.”
That sounds all very exciting and something we encourage you to engage with when the opportunities arise. We know that there has been a mass forced digitization for some in the industry and definitely don’t want a post-COVID backlash to muddy the water with regards to the benefits of harnessing modern technology to facilitate mediation in the 21st Century. From the press release, it appears like the MSB has it’s collective eyes firmly fixed on the future with a solid base of evidence of what works.
How active are they?
The groups of mediators who are conducting more than 5 mediations a month were Conciliators (62%), FDRP's (60%) and civil mediators (58%) which is hardly surprising as the majority would be working in government funded or court ordered roles. The information below breaks this down in more detail.
Other information provided in the report:
- Mediators – majority mode of practice (pre COVID) 63% were face to face, 8% video conferencing, 9% phone and 20% a combination of modes. There is a table identifying which type of mediator preferred which modes.
- Specialisations – 92% didn’t work with a specific group or demographic and the largest group for specialisation were with first nations people.
If you haven’t read the NMAS since you completed your training now might be a good time to review it and consider what you think could be clearer, or improved in the current version. You can download the NMAS here.
The NMAS was established in 2008 and had it’s first review in 2015. The MSB press release indicates “With the developing nature of this relatively new profession, the MSB has chosen to revise the accreditation system over the next 12 months to ensure it maintains relevance and keeps up with the pace of change.”
MSB National Chairperson Ms Bianca Keys stated “The review does not equate to a rewrite. Rather, it is designed to address some interpretive, drafting, and operational issues that our members have pointed out in an ongoing series of consultations.”