Q & A's

How can ACCESS ADVOCACY assist?


ACCESS ADVOCACY assists clients by providing a range of dispute resolution strategies including:

  • Family Dispute Resolution (Under the Family Law Act) - assisting separated couples to reach mutual agreements in the best interests of their children, including property and asset settlement. (married, de facto and same sex couples; grandparents)
  • Elder Mediation Elder helps older parents, their adult children, grandchildren or carers to voluntarily resolve disagreements with the help of a qualified, neutral third party.

Such disputes may address care, healthcare and end of life concerns, change of residence, safety, driving,  abuse, and other intergenerational issues.  A skilled elder mediator creates an atmosphere of safety and respect, listens to each participant’s interests and concerns, and encourages them to hear and understand each other. 

  • General Dispute Resolution - acting as a neutral/non-aligned third party in mediating between parties to resolve workplace/community issues (including bullying and harassment) and to reach satisfactory outcomes or agreements without the involvement of outside agencies, including legal and court action. Settings may include Family, Education and Industry.
  • Coaching/Advocacy - providing individual advice about strategies to address concerns and how to “open doors”.

 

How can assistance and advice be accessed?

Family Dispute Resolution: 
After a client contacts and indicates that they wish to discuss family/children matters, an intake session is arranged to gather background information. The mediator will then invite the other party to participate. If that party agrees, an intake session is arranged and an assessment made regarding whether mediation is appropriate. If mediation proceeds, arrangements, time and date to suit all parties, will be scheduled. All conversations are strictly confidential with each individual.

If a party declines to participate, a S60i Certificate may be issued.

 

Elder Mediation: Similar processes are followed as above, but may involve travel to the clients home or care facility. There may be more meetings and involve older parents, adult children, and other family or carers who each have an interest in the matter. Most elder cases not only address issues such as  who should be named in a will, or who should care for an ailing older adult, but a combination of unresolved issues that may date back years, even decades.

 

Dispute Resolution and Coaching:
In a similar manner, Employers/Administrators may contract ACCESS ADVOCACY to discuss a confidential service to assist staff and clients to have their concerns addressed.

The mediator will discuss possible options or arrange appropriate meetings for further assistance.

What are some typical Elder Mediation Issues?

·       health care planning and medical decisions

·       family business

·       driving

·       living and caregiving arrangements (at home, or in continuing care      

·       or long-term care communities)

·       religious issues

·       financial matters

·       relationship issues (including intergenerational relationships, blended families, new marriages)

·       end of life decisions

·       guardianship

·       abuse and neglect

·       estate planning and wills

·       ageist issues

·       power of attorney questions

 

How long do I have to wait before mediation occurs?
Most mediations can be arranged within one week after all parties have been contacted.

 

What are the possible benefits of attempting mediation?
Benefits include: Improved

  • Communication
  • Problem solving skills
  • Use of conflict management processes
  • Cooperation and collaboration

    Resulting in
  • Enhanced personal wellbeing
  • Reporting of low-level conflict situations
  • The best interests of all taken into consideration
  • Rights of individuals respected

 

MORE Q & A's regarding the Family Court of Australia matters

Who can provide FDR?
Only accredited FDR practitioners can issue certificates under the Family Law Act 1975. An accredited FDR practitioner is a person who meets standards contained in the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008.

Is FDR compulsory?
You can only apply to a family law court for a parenting order when you have a certificate from an accredited FDR practitioner which states that you have made a genuine effort to resolve your dispute through FDR. The requirement to participate in FDR applies to new applications, and applications seeking changes to an existing parenting order.

What are the exceptions?
There are some exceptions to this requirement where:

  • you are applying for consent orders
  • you are responding to an application
  • the matter is urgent
  • there has been, or there is a risk of, family violence or child abuse
  • a party is unable to participate effectively (e.g., due to incapacity or geographical location)
  • a person has contravened and shown a serious disregard for a court order made in the last 12 months.

    When applying to the court, you will need to provide information to demonstrate that one of the exceptions applies to you. If you use the exception relating to family violence or child abuse, you will also need to get information about your options and the services that can help you from a family counsellor or FDR practitioner or by ringing the Family Relationship Advice Line on 1800 050 321. If you have concerns for your safety you should advise the court. You do not have to get this information if you can satisfy the court that there is a risk of violence or child abuse.

What happens during FDR?
Before FDR can commence, an assessment will be made to see whether FDR is suitable for your situation.

FDR practitioners are impartial and will not take sides. They can help you to explore family and property issues in an objective and positive way. It concentrates on resolving specific disputes.

FDR can help both of you to discuss issues, look at options, and work out how best to reach agreement. Importantly, you can use FDR to develop a parenting plan to set out arrangements for your children. An FDR practitioner will also check that everyone understands what is being said and agreed upon.

Are things said at FDR confidential and can they be used in court?
Everything you say in front of an FDR practitioner is confidential – except in certain circumstances, such as to prevent a threat to someone's life or health, the commission of a crime or child abuse.

What is said during FDR cannot be used as evidence in court. However, an FDR practitioner must report child abuse or anything that indicates a child is at risk of abuse, and this may be used as evidence in some circumstances.

What if FDR doesn't work?
Even if you can't reach agreement, FDR may help you and your former spouse or partner communicate better. If you try FDR but still need to go to court because of a parenting order, you will need a certificate from an accredited FDR practitioner.

The certificate will say one of the following:

  • the other party did not attend
  • you and the other party attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
  • you and the other party attended but one or both of you did not make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
  • the FDR practitioner decided your case was not appropriate for FDR, or
  • the FDR practitioner decided it was not appropriate to continue part way through the FDR process.

    You should be aware that if you do not attend FDR or make a genuine effort to attend, this can influence the timing of your court hearing. The court may also order you to pay the other party's legal costs.