At a Glance
The Institute of Dispute Resolution was founded in 2012. Previously known as Jon Graham Consulting, ISDR has been offering mediation for over 16 years.
ISDR uses two mediators for most cases. We draw upon a pool of experienced practitioners and assign a team that is best suited to meet the needs of each case. In most cases, a gender balanced team in used.
Our mediators come from a range of professional disciplines including law, business, HR, commerce, government and social work.
Our mediators are registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners, who are able to issue Section 60I certificates where appropriate under the Family Law Act, 1975.
Child Informed Practice
Most Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners adopt a child focused approach in every mediation. They seek to understand the unique needs of the children and encourage parents to stay focused on reaching agreements which are in the ‘best interests of the children’. In recent years there has been an increased shift from child focused practice to child informed practice; which provides a mechanism whereby children can have a ‘voice’ in the mediation process, without needing to be present in the room and without having to make any decisions. In Australia Dr Jenn McIntosh is a leading advocate of child informed practice. McIntosh describes the process as one in which parents are assisted to “focus clearly on their children’s needs amidst the emotional debris of the ongoing disputes”.
Child informed practice involves a child consultant spending time with the children in a separate session (outside of the mediation) which takes less than 1 hour per child. If more than one child is involved the children can be seen together initially and then separately if they wish. This session is a confidential and supportive session, with a specially trained mediator, counsellor or child practitioner. The child consultant will spend time drawing, playing and talking with the children. The children are never put in a position where they feel pressured to answer any given question or to answer a question in a particular way. They are not asked to make decisions or to experience the feeling of having to choose between their parents. They are simply given the opportunity to talk about and/or show ‘what it’s like to be me, in my family, at this point in time’. Special care is taken to provide an environment that feels safe and welcoming. On another day, the child consultant will come to a mediation session to talk with the parents and mediators about how the children are doing and what their needs seem to be at this point in their development. The child consultant will respect any concerns that the child/ren may express about reporting back sensitive matters.
- “Create an environment that supports parents’ efforts to actively consider the unique needs of each of their children
- Facilitate a parenting agreement that preserves significant relationships and supports children’s psychological adjustment to the separation, including recovery from parental acrimony and protection from further conflict
- Support parents to leave the dispute resolution forum on higher rather than diminished ground with respect to their post-separation parenting
- Ensure that the ongoing mediation/litigation process and the agreements or decisions reached reflect the basic psycho-developmental needs of each child”*
Explain that mum and dad have been seeing a mediator to help you to make some decisions about the future now that you have separated. If pushed you could provide some examples of topics which are often discussed in mediation – living arrangements, communication and finances. There is no need to go into any detail about this but to explain that as parents you have chosen this path because you each want what is best for the children and that you are working with the mediator to help you make decisions that are the best possible for everyone in the family. You can point out that many separated parents choose to work with a mediator. You can then explain that Mum and Dad and the mediators want to make sure that you understand what it’s like to be them (the children) at the moment. Explain that the children have been invited to speak to a child consultant who will just check in with each child to see how they are travelling at the moment. You can explain that when they talk with the child consultant they can let the consultant know if there is anything they are talking about that they want to be kept private. Let them know that there is nothing you need or want them to say. They can just enjoy playing games and chatting with the child consultant about whatever they are thinking. *For more information about Child Informed Practice, follow this link A printable version of the above information can be found here.