We will assess your need and if our service can help. If our services aren’t appropriate for your situation, we will refer you to a more appropriate service.
Our staff do not impose their personal values, views and preferences when assessing if our services are suitable.
Mediation generally requires everyone involved in the dispute to meet face-to-face to discuss their concerns and negotiate an agreement.
If you are under 18 you must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian to attend mediation and you may need a support person to attend with you.
A support person can be a family member, a friend, a disability advocate, a lawyer or another professional person. We will assess if the chosen support person is suitable and will not escalate the conflict.
When making these decisions we consider the following factors:
Existence of a dispute between people who have ongoing contact with each other
Generally, we need to be satisfied that a dispute exists between two or more people who have ongoing contact with each other before we can intervene and offer mediation.
If there has only been a single incident and those involved have little impact on each other's daily lives, we may explore other self-help approaches and options.
Genuine desire by all involved to resolve their dispute
Before proceeding, we will discuss the mediation process with each person involved to confirm they want to meet and find a solution. If not, we would explore other more suitable options and services with you.
Capacity to understand and participate in mediation
Mediation is not suitable if anyone involved has difficulty understanding the mediation process or remembering the outcome of discussions.
In helping decide if mediation would be suitable for everyone involved we will assess each person's:
- ability to communicate
- ability to deal with emotion
- level of anxiety
- overall health and functioning capacity, including mental health.
There may also be language difficulties that need to be considered. If there is, we will arrange for an interpreter to attend the mediation.
Connection to the state of Victoria
We are a Victorian government service for residents of Victoria or those with a relevant connection to Victoria.
Risk of harm
We will consider the level of fear expressed by those involved in the dispute and the impact this fear has on their ability to speak openly and make decisions.
We will also assess risk factors such as:
- domestic or family violence
- child abuse or child abduction
- self-harm and harm to others
- a history of anti-social, violent or controlling behaviour
- the duration of the dispute
- the types of behaviour involved
- how deep the conflict is.
If there is a strong possibility mediation will increase the likelihood of negative behaviour from either person, we will explore other more suitable options. For example, it would not be suitable to organise mediation when one person is committing pursuit-type stalking against the other.
An existing or application for an intervention order
Police involvement may indicate the matter isn't suitable for mediation.
If the police have applied for a personal safety intervention order (PSIO) on behalf of someone against another person involved in the dispute and it does not permit mediation, we will refer you to other services for independent legal advice.
Power imbalance between those involved in the dispute
Mediation is productive when the discussions are fair and balanced and there is no fear of harm, intimidation, or risk of exploitation by one person over the other.
For example, mediation may not be suitable when a person with a disability is totally dependent on the person they are in dispute with and are unable to negotiate fairly without fear.
Previous attempts to mediate
If you have previously attended a mediation with those involved in the dispute and you weren't able to reach a resolution or stick to the agreement, before proceeding we will assess if there are new circumstances or issues and those involved:
- are open to negotiating in good faith
- have stuck to past agreements
- have reconsidered their position
- have the capacity to understand and participate in the mediation process.
Mediation on behalf of VCAT and the courts
DSCV has some specific arrangements with VCAT and the Magistrates' Court which have specific criteria not covered in these guidelines.
Any other matter we consider relevant
Disputes we can assist with
When you speak to us we will decide which services are suitable. For example, advice and information, mediation and other forms of negotiation or referral to another service and what supports may need to be put in place for this to occur.
Common neighbourhood disputes
Disputes between one or more sets of neighbours over issues such as:
Disputes between siblings and extended family over matters such as:
- intergenerational conflict
- elderly care arrangements
- funeral and burial arrangements
- wills and estates
- powers of attorney.
Our services may be unsuitable if your dispute involves:
- an application for a Family Violence Intervention order
- a matter in the Family Court or Federal Magistrates Court
- parental arrangements
- someone who doesn't have the capacity to provide instructions.
Interpersonal conflict between:
- people in the same social circle, such as friends
- members of the same social group, hobby or sporting pursuits
- people attending schools who have not been able to resolve the issue through the school
- community groups.
- Contact the Victoria Police if you are fear for your own safety. Call Triple Zero 000.
- Contact your local Community Legal Centre or Victoria Legal Aid for further information on the implications of an application for a Personal Safety Intervention Order.
- Make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission if you feel you have been discriminated against, sexually harassed, victimised or vilified.
Internal club or association conflicts between:
- individual members
- committee members
- different clubs.
- To find out more about the rules and processes that apply to incorporated associations, including clubs, visit the Clubs and Fundraising section of the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
- For free and low cost legal resources and advice for community organisations visit the Not-for-profit law information hub delivered by Justice Connect .
Owners' corporation and retirement villages
Issues and complaints relating to the use of common property in an owners's corporate, including:
- disputes with neighbours
- behavioural issues between members of an owners' corporation.
Your dispute may be subject to your owners' corporation internal dispute resolution process, which you must follow before you contact us.
This may include:
- complaints about the management process of an owners' corporation
- complaints regarding fees
- members complaints against the manager
- how meetings are organised, minutes and communicated
- For information on your rights and obligations as an owner in an owners' corporation or resident in a retirement village, visit the Housing section of the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
- Owners corporation managers and retirement village operators should visit the Licensing and registration section of the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
- If you are a tenant in an owners' corporation visit the Tenants Victoria website for further information.
Small business and consumer disputes
Disputes between individuals and businesses, or business to business owners, often referred to us by the Magistrates Court of Victoria or VCAT:
- monies owed
- contracting and sub-contracting arrangements
- quality of goods and services.
- If your dispute relates to a small business retail lease, general business dispute, owner driver or forestry contractors, farmers and farm creditors or taxi driver and operators contact the Victoria Small Business Commission .
- Contact Consumer Affairs Victoria for information about Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and the licensing or registration of various performances,
Tenancy related issues
Disputes in a share house between tenants, including lead tenants and subtenants over:
- outstanding bills
- damage to the property
- end of lease issues.
- For information on resolving a renting dispute between a tenant and a landlord visit the Housing section on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
- For information and advice about your rights as a renter, contact Tenants Victoria .
- To find out more about your rights in public housing, contact the Victorian Public Tenants Association .
Workplace related disputes
Communication and teamwork problems between co-workers, team members and management. Before contacting us, you should first check what internal dispute resolution processes are in place at your workplace.
- For information and advice about your workplace rights and obligations contact the Fair Work Ombudsman .
- If you're an employee and need independent legal advice on your employment rights contact Jobwatch .
- If you feel you have been discriminated against, sexually harassed, victimised or vilified at work, you or someone on your behalf can make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission .
- Contact Worksafe Victoria if you are experiencing behaviour such as bullying that has created a workplace safety issue.
Barriers for mediation
Before we offer services we need to establish if a mediation is considered:
- a suitable process for everyone involved in the dispute
- suitable but only if it is conducted with special conditions, and everyone involved agrees to and cooperates with the special conditions
- a safe process for everyone involved.
Strategies to support participation at mediation
When a mediation is only suitable if special conditions are in place we will consider if either of the following strategies can support everyone involved in the dispute to participate:
We will explore if a support person may help overcome a power imbalance or assist a vulnerable person to participate fully in mediation. For example, someone with a cognitive disability may have difficulty understanding the mediation process and could participate if a support person or advocate assisted them.
Interpreter support at mediation
We will arrange for a qualified independent interpreter, if anyone involved in the dispute needs a translator.