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LifeWorks is a not for profit organisation that provides family, couple and individual
counselling, education, training and workplace services in Victoria Australia.
Mediation/Dispute Resolution at LifeWorks
LifeWorks offers a range of dispute resolution services designed to provide a safe and neutral space for individuals to resolve identified issues, with the aim of negotiating an acceptable outcome to all.
LifeWorks' practitioners work with the parties in a neutral, impartial and non-judgemental way to identify the issues, consider the options and make arrangments without having to resort to expensive, time consuming and duanting legal action.
Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) following or about family separation.
For families affected by separation or divorce to resolve disputes involving children, and/or property and financial settlement. This will include parents, and sometimes grandparents or other significant people in the children's lives. Download LifeWorks' Family Dispute Resolution Services brochure.
This can be used to resolve disputes:
- between family members
- between friendship groups
- about older family members
- community disputes including neighbourhood issues.
LifeWorks also offers workplace dispute resolution services. LifeWorks in the Workplace Consultants provide a range of tailored consulting, mediation and assessment strategies to manage conflict and promote an environment in which parties work together more effectively.
How does Mediation/Dispute Resolution work?
Dispute Resolution is a co-operative dispute resolution process involving several distinct stages.
1. Initial Contact.
Contact LifeWorks during office hours to find out more about the service or to make an appointment for an initial, private and individual intake interview.
2. Intake interview.
An intake interview is conducted with a LifeWorks practitioner who will:
- listen to your story.
- provide detailed information on the dispute resolution process.
- explore any matters such as violence, abuse, drug or alcohol use, which could make mediation unsafe, unfair or unsuitable.
- clarify any concerns or questions.
- if appropriate, suggest appropriate referrals for legal advice, counselling, income support or other sources of assistance such as the Child Support Agency or Centrelink.
Following the initial intake interview, the other party or parties will also be invited to attend an intake interview if appropriate. An assessment on whether dispute resolution is appropriate to provide is completed following the intake interviews with all parties.
3. Initial Joint Session.
Sessions are provided at a time and date that suits all parties. They typically run for two to three hours and are conducted in a private room.
Sometimes, LifeWorks offers "shuttle mediation", which means each party is provided with a separate room and the mediator goes between the two rooms to conduct the mediation. Sometimes this can provide better negotiated outcomes than speaking more immediately to the other parties.
At a typical first joint session:
- The practitioner explains the process including confidentiality and its limits.
- All participants sign an agreement to participate in mediation/FDR.
- Each party has the opportunity to outline the issues they wish to discuss and a shared agenda is agreed upon.
- Each party has the chance to speak uniterrupted on how thye see the issues can be resolved. Each party also listens respectfully to others.
- Negotiation continues towards reaching mutually acceptable outcomes.
- Upon reaching agreements, this can be documented by the practitioner, and parties are invited to sign this document.
A break can be called at any time, and any party can also speak to the mediator at any time.
4. Subsequent Joint Sessions.
In some situations issues are resolved within the first session, however in most cases the process can take two or three sessions. During subsequent sessions, the practitioner continues to encourage continued sharing of options and respectful negotiation.
Confidentiality. All dispute resolution practitioners are professionally qualified and have met legal requirements covering client confidentiality, professional conduct and meet LifeWorks' own stringent ethical standards.
All discussions that take place within the FDR sessions are covered by the Family Law Act 1975 and are not admissable in court, except in certain circumstances such as child abuse or to prevent a threat to someone's life. This includes FDR for both children and/or property and financial settlement. All LifeWorks' FDR practitioners are accredited with the Federal Attoney-General's Department under provisions of the Family Law Act 1975. Discussions that occur in general mediation sessions are confidential as far as th elaw allows. The practitioner will not voluntarily disclose to anyone outside of mediation anything said in the mediation, unless specifically authorised by the parties or unless compelled by law to do so.
Legal Advice. LifeWorks recommends that each party obtain independent legal advice throughout the dispute resolution process.