Alternative Dispute Resolution

Contributed by IppeiOkazaki and current to 1 May 2016

As a society we tend to leave disputes unresolved until they reach major proportions. Also, we rely on courts, lawyers and legal procedures to settle conflict. Courts and lawyers do play an important role in dispute resolution, but there is a growing demand for alternative options. There are many reasons why people are turning away from the court system, including:
  • the language and processes of our justice system, which have distanced the law from the community it serves
  • a view that conflict and disputes (even interpersonal ones) are socially abnormal rather than part of life
  • a loss of many of the informal justice mechanisms that were used to resolve conflict at the community level, such as priests, police or a trusted confidant
  • the increasing financial and emotional cost to those who use the adversarial legal system.
The last 20 years has seen the situation change. Modifications have been made to the legal system and alternative dispute resolution (ADR), also known as primary dispute resolution, processes are being developed inside and outside the legal system. Interstate initiatives in ADR are slowly gaining a foothold in the NT. Examples are the user-friendly tribunals now operating, such as the Public Housing Appeals Panel (Territory Housing), the Health and Community Services Complaints Commission and the Commissioner of Tenancies. ADR is also used in various pre-court proceedings. At the time of publication the NT Government offers alternative dispute resolution through the Community Justice Centre. The Community Justice Centre provides mediation services to the community to help people resolve their own disputes without costly legal action. The service is free, confidential, voluntary, timely and easy to use. The NT Community Justice Centre is legislated for within the Community Justice Centre Act 2005 (NT).

What is alternative dispute resolution?

ADR is the term given to describe a dispute resolution process that does not involve a court. The courts resolve disputes using the process of adjudication. A magistrate, judge or a judge and jury hears evidence presented by the parties or their legal representatives and makes a decision based on legislation or common law. There are strict rules governing the admissibility of evidence, and the judge, not the parties, has absolute control of the process and the agenda. After hearing all the particulars, the court then decides who wins and who loses. ADR offers an alternative to the win/lose outcome. Parties instead reach agreement, with the help of an impartial and neutral third party, an ADR practitioner. ADR, in effect, empowers people to resolve disputes themselves. At all times throughout the process, disputing parties remain responsible for the resolution of their problem. They have greater control over the management of the dispute and their ability to negotiate for themselves is acknowledged. Parties who resolve their dispute using an ADR process commonly experience a stronger sense of justice regarding the result and their agreement is likely to endure as a consequence.

An ADR practitioner assists by helping the parties to:
  • hear and understand each other's points of view
  • identify and isolate the issues in dispute
  • develop and explore dispute resolution options and consider alternatives
  • play an active role in the decision-making process
  • support both parties reach an agreement that accommodates their needs and interests.

Alternative dispute settlement methods

There are three basic alternative dispute settlement methods: mediation, conciliation and arbitration. The parties choose the process they want to use to resolve their dispute and control the agenda for discussion. The ADR practitioner manages the process in accordance with agreed rules of discussion.


Mediation is an effective method for resolving community, family and commercial disputes. Mediation has also been incorporated into court pre-trial procedure.

Mediation requires disputing parties to meet face-to-face in the presence of a mediator who supports parties negotiate their own agreement. Mediation is a process that promotes the self-determination of participants and in which participants, with the support of a neutral third party mediator:
  • communicate with each other, exchange information and seek understanding
  • identify, clarify and explore interests, issues and underlying needs
  • consider their alternatives
  • generate and evaluate options
  • negotiate with each other; and
  • reach and make their own decisions.
Mediators support parties systematically to examine the issues in dispute, assess realistic outcomes, explore alternatives and find solutions. Mediators:
  • are neutral
  • are non-judgmental
  • make no determination
  • do not apportion blame, award costs or impose penalties
  • do not give legal advice or perform a counselling role
  • help parties reach an amicable agreement that meets their needs.
Mediation is particularly appropriate where a dispute involves complex issues or multiple parties, and where parties need to maintain an ongoing relationship, such as business colleagues, neighbours, family members, community groups, club members, employers and their staff.

In Australia, the practices of co-mediation and shuttle mediation are common. Co-mediation places two mediators in each mediation session to enhance fairness, balance and quality outcomes. In shuttle mediation the parties are located in different rooms and the mediator(s) 'shuttle' between them conveying the parties' positions and offers of settlement.

Should all the parties agree, mediated agreements can be legally enforceable. For example, in family law disputes parties can mutually decide to have an agreement registered at court, a step that then makes it legally enforceable.


This process has many similar goals as with mediation to resolve issues with the support of a neutral conciliator. Conciliation is applied where a legal a right that has been violated and conciliators support parties find the optimal solution with reference to relevant rules and procedures. Conciliation is used mainly to deal with complaints. For example, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the NT Anti-Discrimination Commission use conciliation rather than mediation to resolve complaints (see Other areas where ADR is used ).

The role played by the neutral third party is the main difference between mediation and conciliation. Conciliators are often expected to contribute their own views and opinions applicable to the violated rights during the conciliation process - mediators never do. Sometimes conciliators manage the process as a neutral third party, but in most cases their role is more directive. In some instances the conciliator even has the power to issue a determination. Generally however, conciliation has more in common with mediation than arbitration (see Arbitration ), in that the conciliator acts at 'arm's length', putting forward options or suggesting ways the matter can be settled. Parties still largely retain responsibility for resolving their own dispute.


Arbitration is the ADR mechanism that most closely resembles a court in that the arbitrator imposes a determination on the parties after discussion with them. The main difference between arbitration and adjudication (the system used by courts) is that in arbitration the parties voluntarily choose to be bound by the decision of the third party arbitrator.

The role of the arbitrator, sometimes known as 'an independent expert', differs from that of a judge in that it generally involves encouraging the parties to discuss the matter between themselves before imposing a decision. The selection of arbitrators is usually made on the basis of expertise in the subject matter of a dispute.

The way that an arbitrated dispute proceeds may vary according to the nature and complexity of the matter. In many cases there will be a court-style hearing; in others a determination is made on the basis of documentary submissions only. In contrast to litigation, parties are able to set their own timetable, conduct their hearing in private and make use of simpler procedures with an arbitrator of their choice. Arbitration is used by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which deals with industrial disputes, such as those over wages and conditions of employment (see Employment ).

In Australia, commercial arbitration has become the preferred procedure for parties who seek a binding determination of their dispute but don't want to go to court. It is a suitably private and efficient method of dispute resolution. The result, known as the award, is usually enforceable in the same way as a court judgment. The Banking Ombudsman is an exception - although it uses arbitration to resolve disputes between a bank and its customers, the customer is not bound by the award, and can choose instead to take the matter through the courts (see Banking ).

Advantages and disadvantages

Litigation can be the most effective and appropriate way to resolve some disputes. Other disputes are not adequately resolved through the court process, and can even be made worse by it. ADR offers the following advantages:
  • it is faster and usually costs less
  • it is more flexible and responsive to the parties' needs
  • through discussion parties gain a better understanding of each other's perspective than is possible in the court process
  • it is not concerned with fault, guilt or innocence and so allows parties to avoid the traps of blame and retribution, thus making room for negotiation and a cooperative approach to problem-solving
  • it is less formal and less stressful
  • those who know most about the issues in dispute, that is the parties in dispute, control the discussion agenda
  • because parties are involved in and have control over the outcome, they are more satisfied and therefore more likely to comply with negotiated terms of agreement
  • the confidential nature of the process encourages frank disclosure and hence understanding
  • where a continuing relationship between the parties is required, such as in tenancy and joint parenting agreements, goodwill is more likely to be preserved
  • a party dissatisfied with the outcome of an ADR process can still take the matter to court.
A criticism of mediation and other forms of ADR is that it focuses on settlement, which may result in one or both parties conceding some of their legal rights. Such results, if they occur, occur because the broader focus of the ADR negotiation process takes in the important underlying needs of parties, as well as their rights. Parties are always advised to seek legal advice (see The role of legal advice in ADR ) prior to signing off on their ADR-achieved outcome. If a party is unsatisfied with a negotiated outcome the dispute may be taken to court.

Where disputes are being resolved using ADR methods, it may still be appropriate to obtain legal advice to make an informed decision before committing to the process. In some cases legal advice is essential. It is important for parties to be aware of their legal rights before they start the ADR process so they can negotiate from an informed position. For example, a separating couple who use ADR to negotiate property and parenting issues should inform themselves about the best and worst outcomes that could be expected in these areas if they go to court.

Also, at any time during the ADR process, either party can suspend negotiations to obtain legal advice on a particular point.

Parties who are unsure about whether they have achieved a just and equitable outcome through ADR should seek legal advice before signing off on an agreement.

It is also important for parties to understand that an ADR practitioner usually cannot give legal advice.

Standards, accreditation and training

The National Mediation Accreditation System (NMAS) is a scheme which provides a minimum level of standards of training and assessment for all mediators to ensure quality assurance, consistency and consumer protection. The Mediation Standards Board maintains the official list of NMAS accredited mediators.Other mediator accreditation schemes that impose specialist requirements for particular fields for example, the family dispute resolution practitioner registration requirements under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

Currently, various government and private organisations train, assess and register mediation practitioners. For example the Community Justice Centre (NT) trains its own practitioners, while various universities, Law Societies and training Institutions offer training courses across Australia. The courses offered by these organisations, which typically run over five to ten days, are generally required to meet NMAS. All state based mediation organisations require NMAS qualifications. The Mediation Standards Board website maintains a current list of Recognised Mediator Accreditation Bodies in Australia.

The Community Justice Centre (CJC) maintains a panel of accredited mediators, as legislated within the Community Justice Centre Act 2005 (NT). These mediators undergo regular professional development in order to maintain high standards. Family Relationship Centres and the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission offer family mediations and maintain a panel of trained mediators who meet requirements specified in the regulations to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). (see ADR organisations ).

ADR processes in the court system

In most kinds of civil litigation, courts apply a variety of pre-trial procedures to try to identify the underlying causes of the dispute and give parties the opportunity to settle by negotiation before going before a judge or magistrate. These procedures are severely time-constrained, usually controlled by the court official and not as comprehensive as ADR. They include pre-hearing conferences in the Local Court and status assessment meetings in the Supreme Court. A number of courts are in the process of making procedural changes that go further, incorporating mediation and arbitration.

Local Court

The Local Court uses a number of ADR processes in its pre-trial procedures. At the point in proceedings after a defence is filed, a Local Court registrar must arrange for the parties to attend a conciliation conference [Local Court Act 1991 (NT) r. 32]. There the parties may resolve their matter; if they do not the dispute will be referred to mediation or a pre-hearing conference. If mediated, the dispute goes before a court registrar or a court-appointed external mediator. Any matter within the Local Court's civil jurisdiction can be referred to mediation. Lawyers are not necessarily required. The parties share external mediation costs equally.

An agreement reached during a pre-trial process becomes a binding order of the court if both parties give consent to that.

Supreme Court

ADR procedures have been incorporated into the case management system of the NT Supreme Court. In the Supreme Court, if a judge or the master (a court official) believes that a dispute can be settled they can refer it to a settlement conference or to mediation [Supreme Court Rules O.48, rr.12, 13]. Matters are usually referred to the former and rarely the latter. A settlement conference takes place before the master, while a mediator (or co-mediators where deemed appropriate) is appointed from a list of external mediators held by the master. Conferences provide an opportunity for parties to talk directly to each other, but parties can have their lawyers present if they choose. Mediation costs are shared equally.

Federal Court

The Federal Court hears matters involving Federal law such as immigration, tax and bankruptcy. The court has developed some 'assisted dispute resolution' processes, also known as ADR. For instance the parties can request mediation, and the court can refer matters to mediation with or without their consent [Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) s.53A]. Mediations are usually conducted by court registrars. Where the mediation is successful, the agreement may be formalised in a consent judgment. If the parties choose mediation, they don't lose their hearing priority; that is, they are not removed from the waiting list of pending cases, which runs on a first-in-first-served basis.

Also, to satisfy the court that all reasonable steps have been taken to negotiate a settlement, parties can be ordered to attend a listing conference or pre-trial settlement conference.

In addition, disputes can be resolved through arbitration if the parties consent to it [Federal Court Rules O.72].

Federal Magistrates Service

The Federal Magistrates Service (FMS) is a lower level Federal court. Its jurisdiction includes family law, bankruptcy, migration law, consumer protection, and unlawful discrimination. When sitting as a court, the FMS is called the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia.

The family dispute resolution (FDR) procedures used by the FMS are collectively referred to as primary dispute resolution (PDR). They comprise counselling, mediation and conciliation. If the court considers that an FDR process may help the parties to resolve a dispute, it must advise the parties to use that process [Federal Magistrates Act 1999(Cth) s.23].

In family disputes, after filing at the FMS, parties may be ordered to attend FDR before the first court date. If that doesn't happen, a Federal magistrate will direct them to FDR on the first court date. They are required to attend mediation, conciliation (property disputes) or counselling (children's matters) at either the Family Court, Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission, or a community organisation. There is no charge for FDR at the Family Court. The FMS pays for FDR at a community organisation, and the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission conducts a means assessment to determine whether they will fund participants.

If FDR is successful the parties can file consent orders to complete the court process. If no resolution can be reached, the dispute proceeds to trial in court.

In disputes other than family disputes, when a Federal magistrate assesses that a matter falling within the court's Federal law jurisdiction may be able to be resolved through mediation, it is referred to mediation. Mediation is conducted by a registrar of the Federal Court or a private mediator appointed by the court or chosen by the parties.

Family Court of Australia

The Family Court of Australia provides a range of FDR services to enable parents and people to resolve disputes prior to going to court. Services include mediation, conciliation, counselling and information sessions. In practice, the FDR services on offer vary, depending on location. In the NT there are two registries (Darwin and Alice Springs), and they offer the following services:
  • Information sessions (one hour) about court services and processes and parenting issues: sessions last one hour and are offered to people before they file an application at court. Attendance at these sessions is optional
  • Mediation of disputes between parents over parental responsibility or residential and/or contact issues in relation to children: mediation consists of sessions of 1-1.5 hours conducted by a single trained court mediator. It may be voluntary (and conducted pre- or post-filing) or court ordered (post-filing)
  • Conciliation of disputes over jointly owned assets: a single one-hour session is compulsory if the matter is to be contested in court. The session is conducted by a deputy registrar or legal officer
  • Counselling in child-related disputes: for example, over residence or contact issues. Counselling is conducted by court counsellors and is actually a combination of conciliation and counselling, focusing on dispute resolution. Counselling takes place either before or after filing. It may be court-ordered, but must be undertaken in any event before the parties attend a defended hearing.
Trained Aboriginal family consultants are employed full time by both NT registries to provide counselling and mediation to Aboriginal families in dispute.

Applications filed at court attract a fee; however, this can be waived in certain circumstances.

As with the FMS, mediation is either conducted by Family Court officers or referred to an independent community-based family mediation service, such as Resolve Family Mediation (NT) or Relationships Australia (see ADR organisations this section).

Dispute resolution in practice

Family Relationships Centres

As well as providing information and referrals, centres are able to help separating parents in a number of ways, including:
  • individual interviews for separating/separated parents to help them identify issues and options and focus on the needs of their children;
  • joint family dispute resolution sessions for separating/separated parents to help them reach agreement on parenting arrangements - these are conducted by Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners who can issue Section 60I Certificates enabling parents to proceed to court if matters are not resolved;
  • with the consent of parents a Child Consultation session can be arranged to hear the views of the child/ren;
  • group programs and public information sessions on parenting after separation. If it is appropriate, you can bring family members or a support person with you. Lawyers can't participate in centre sessions but you are encouraged to seek legal advice at any stage outside the centre. Centres are committed to providing a safe environment and can put into place arrangements to assist with your safety or the safety of your children. You should let centre staff know if you have any concerns as soon as possible.

The type of family dispute resolution offered at NTLAC is called 'family law conferencing' or 'FLC'. At an FLC parties will sit down with, or teleconference with, the chairperson (or 'family dispute resolution practitioner (FDRP)) and try to reach agreement over their family law problem (parenting after separation and/or division of property) without going to court. Our FLCs differ from other family dispute resolution in that parties are encouraged to attend with a lawyer, and to make agreements into court orders wherever appropriate. At least one person must have a grant of legal aid allowing their lawyer to attend the FLC, or the same kind of assistance from a community legal centre. Conferences are not formal hearings like court proceedings and parties can efficiently make agreements tailored to suit the needs of their own family.

Community Justice Centre services

The Community Justice Centre (CJC) provides mediation services to the community to help people resolve their own disputes without potentially costly legal action. The service is free, confidential, voluntary, timely and easy to use. The NT Community Justice Centre is legislated for within the Community Justice Centre Act 2005.

Mediation is a way of helping people settle a dispute without having to go to Court and commonly used in the following types of disputes from escalation:
  • neighbourhood nuisance (noise, trees, fences, pets, drainage
  • between members of a club, committee or incorporated Association
  • antisocial behaviour and visitors
By attending mediation allows parties in dispute to have a say in the outcome and come up with their own solutions to the problem. It provides a way of settling a dispute without legal action, which can be time consuming, and expensive. This means savings in time, legal fees, court costs and sustainable outcomes for you and the whole community. It also frees the Court system to concentrate on problems that require determination by an outside party.

For more information please contact the Community Justice Centre on 1800 000 473, email or visit in person at Level 1 Zone B Nichols Place corner of Cavenagh and Bennett Street, Darwin 0800..

Who uses community justice mediation?

Many people take their disputes to the Community Justice Centre in the first instance, especially in disputes between neighbours and for parties who seek to resolve issues a confidential, supportive environment.

Referrals are commonly from the Councils, Courts, Police, Housing Department and clubs and community organisations.

How mediations are conducted

Under the Community Justice Centre Act:
  • mediations are conducted informally and with as few delays as possible
  • the rules of evidence do not apply
  • mediation sessions are conducted in private
  • attendance and participation is voluntary - a person may withdraw from a mediation session at any time
  • any agreement reached or drawn up from a mediation session is not enforceable in any court or tribunal. Such an agreement is described as a 'good faith agreement'
  • as with judicial proceedings, there is privilege from action for defamation in mediation - that is, a person cannot be sued for defamation on the basis of evidence they give in the course of mediation
  • evidence of anything said or any admission made in a mediation session also applies to any document used for the mediation, including documents sent to the Community Justice Centre
  • mediators are bound by confidentiality
  • information obtained in connection with a mediation session can only be disclosed in certain circumstances.

How community justice mediations work

In Community Justice Centre mediations, one or two mediators work together to help people in dispute to reach their own agreement in a process described as facilitative mediation.

Each person gives their personal account without interruption. The parties' statements are then summarised by the mediators to help determine the main issues.

In the course of the mediation, the mediators sometimes have a private session with each of the parties. This helps them to explore settlement possibilities, and to decide whether there are advantages to be gained in continuing with the mediation.

How mediators are selected

All CJC mediators are accredited under NMAS. Where possible, the mediators in a particular case are chosen so that their skills, knowledge and experience can be matched and are acceptable to the parties to support an environment for negotiation.

Community languages and interpreters

The Community Justice Centre can provide interpreters when necessary.

Post-court conferencing

The Community Justice Centre currently facilitates post-court conferencing to offer victims of crime an avenue for participation in the delivery of justice through a non-adversarial conflict resolution process, while offering offenders the opportunity to restore all or part of the harm they have caused.

In the Aboriginal community

Aboriginal mediators have been recruited and trained by the Community Justice Centre in order to provide an appropriate service to Aboriginal communities. The CJC has and continues to provide training to Aboriginal mediators in both the Top End and Central Australia.

Other areas where ADR is used

Disputes about workers compensation

The Work Health Authority (the authority) maintains a panel of mediators to encourage the resolution of workers compensation disputes between workers (claimants) and employers (or their insurance companies). Where a claimant is aggrieved by a decision their employer makes about workers compensation, such as reducing the amount of compensation or liability, they can take the dispute to the Authority. The authority then refers the dispute to an independent mediator. A claimant is not entitled to start proceedings in the Work Health Court unless they've tried mediation. When the mediation process is complete, the mediator issues a certificate stating the outcome. An unsatisfied claimant must start court proceedings within 28 days of receiving the certificate. The introduction of compulsory mediation has helped curb the incidence of protracted litigation in work health-related disputes. However, some hold the view that the reforms don't go far enough. For instance, some believe that the 14 days allowed to mediate the dispute is too short, and that the ability to withhold certain materials from mediation, such as surveillance reports and videos, is not appropriate. These defects, they argue, prevent a frank and complete analysis of all the issues, and are the reason that many disputes fail to resolve at mediation.

Complaints about discrimination and equal opportunity

Two organisations handle complaints about discrimination and equal opportunity: the NT Anti-Discrimination Commission and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Both organisations use ADR to deal with complaints. For information about these organisations and their processes see Discrimination and Human Rights.

Disputes about native title

ADR processes are used by the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT), a Commonwealth tribunal that facilitates the making of agreements among indigenous people, governments, industry and others whose rights or interests may co-exist with native title rights and interests. The NNTT doesn't decide whether or not native title exists; its primary function is to mediate contested native title applications. Mediation of contested native title determination and compensation applications is mandatory under the Native Title Act1993 (Cth) s.107.Disputes are often complex and multi-party. Intra-indigenous issues are a dominant feature of the Tribunal's work.

The NNTT has a Darwin registry (see Contact points ). If the application cannot be mediated to the stage of a determination agreed on by all the parties it must be lodged with the Federal Court for adjudication.

Conferences between victims and offenders

A conference is an ADR forum where people deal with wrongdoing and conflict. It involves a face-to-face meeting, in a conference setting, between the victim of a crime and the person who committed that crime.

Conference participants in criminal matters include the victim, the offender, their supporters, the arresting police officer and the facilitator. Participants volunteer to discuss the harm resulting from the crime, how to repair the harm, and how to avoid/minimise further harm. The participants attempt to negotiate a written agreement that might repair the harm. The facilitator acts like a mediator and guides the process without controlling or dictating.

Agreements reached at conferencing are accepted by courts in substitution for court-imposed sanctions. Appropriate consenting offenders are either diverted to a conference by a court prior to sentence or by police prior to court. NT conferences only involve juvenile offenders at present.

Conferences provide the community with an opportunity to become involved in the administration of justice. Their existence is recognised by authorities who recognise that State/court-imposed criminal sanctions do not in all cases serve the best interests of victim, offender or community.

Conferences are managed by the by the NT Police Diversion Unit and referred to convenors by Judges under s86 Youth Justice Act. These organisations make the decisions about referring juvenile offenders to conferencing.

Disputes about land acquisitions

ADR processes are used by the Lands, Planning and Mining Appeals Tribunal, which hears disputes about land acquired by government, and those about compensation for land so acquired. The tribunal, established under the Lands and Mining Tribunal Act 1998 (NT)(now the Lands, Planning and Mining Tribunal Act 1998 (NT)), has the power to refer matters in dispute to mediators who are members of the tribunal's mediation panel [s.36].

The tribunal also hears appeals under Part 9 of the Planning Act 1998 (NT). The chairperson of the tribunal is able to convene a compulsory conference [Planning Act s.124ff], which is presided over by a mediator chosen from a panel of mediators, who assists the parties to reach a compromise or settlement.

ADR organisations

The Community Justice Centre

The Community Justice Centre can assist with a wide range of disputes including:
  • local community/neighbourhood disputes over such things as fences, noise, pets, trees, property damage and behaviour.
  • clubs and organisations whose members are in conflict.
  • relationships between extended family members.
  • small claims/civil claims.
For more information please contact the Community Justice Centre on 1800 000 473, email or visit in person at 7th floor 9-11 Cavenagh Street, Darwin 0800.

Relationships Australia

Relationships Australia is a non-government provider of services for relationship support. It is a not-for-profit community based organisation partly funded by Federal, State and Local governments. Staff are qualified psychologists and social workers with experience in relationship and family therapy. A fee is charged for most services but can be negotiated based on family income and ability to pay.

Darwin office:

43 Cavenagh St, Darwin NT 0800
Tel: 8923 4999 Fax: 8981 6190

Alice Springs office:

4/11 Railway Terrace, Alice Springs, NT 0870
PO Box 8367, Alice Springs. NT 0871
Tel: 8950 4100 Fax: 8952 5878

Freecall counselling for remote areas: 1800 634 405

Resolve Family Mediation

Resolve is a division of Anglicare NT, has branches in Darwin and Alice Springs, and is the only NT community-based agency approved and funded by the Federal Attorney-General to conduct mediation for separating or divorcing couples who are in dispute over joint assets, children and other family matters. Resolve offers a more comprehensive model than the FMS and the Family Court in that two trained mediators conduct each session and there are no time constraints - several two-hour sessions are common. A means-tested fee is payable, but intake is free and there is no filing fee.

Resolve mediates in other family disputes, such as the care and discipline of children; parental conflict with children and adolescents; family disputes with schools or welfare agencies; disputes over adoption and foster care, and other inter-generational and intra-family issues. Contact details are:

1/5 Goyder Road, NT 0820
PO Box 36506, Winnellie, NT 0821
Tel: 8946 4800 Fax: 8946 4801

Resolution Institute

Resolution Institute LEADR is a Sydney-based mediation training organisation. Its courses are designed for general application. It provides accredited mediators from its register for a fee. LEADR conducts training courses in Darwin and other interstate capitals, subject to demand. Contact details are:

Level 1 and 2 13-15 Bridge Street Sydney NSW 2000
Freecall: 1800 651 650

The Accord Group

The Accord Group is a group of Sydney-based mediation trainers that also operates in Darwin subject to demand. Their courses are oriented towards commercial mediation. Contact details are:

Address: Level 2, 370 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: 02 9264 9506
Fax: 02 9264 8268

Bond University

These universities offer full or part-time ADR courses. Contact details are:

Bond University
Gold Coast, QLD 4229
Tel: 07 5595 5000
Fax: 07 5572 6189

Private mediators

In the NT, various sole practitioners, partnerships and organisations offer private fee-for-service ADR services. The public can access the Mediation Standards Board website to check NMAS accreditation status.

Helpful books

  • Your Guide to Dispute resolution, National Dispute Resolution Advisory Council (2012)
  • Guideline for lawyers in Mediation. Law Council of Australia (2011)
  • Guideline for parties in Mediation. Law Council of Australia (2011)
  • National Mediation Accreditation Standards (2015)
  • Mediation: Principles, Process, Practice, Boulle L.(2nd ed, Butterworths, 2005)
  • The Fundamentals of Family Mediation, Haynes J. and Charlesworth S. (Federation Press, 1996)

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