1P Family Violence


Jonathan Graham,
Institute of Specialist Dispute Resolution
Wednesday November 21 2018

Time: 2:40pm – 3:10pm

Room: Bluewater 2

1P Family Violence

Navigating case complexity pathways. The WISE approach to Intervention Selection


Family Dispute Resolution faces challenges that ask practitioners to mould the concepts of case suitability to increasingly more complex cases. It is not unusual that Family Mediators and Family Relationship Centres face cases that involve multiple complexities; drug and alcohol issues, family violence and child abuse, mental health, concerns about self-harm, and interparental hatred. The question is what to do with those presentations?

Decisions about suitability have focused on whether or not a case is suitable for FDR. A decision that makes a case unsuitable leaves the parties with few options; court or do nothing. These decisions can involve a greater degree of focus.

What changes could be made to the process of FDR to make the case more suitable? How can professional supports work with clients to make the case more suitable? What alternate modalities of practice can assist in the provision of FDR? It is not just a simple decision as to whether a case is, or is not suitable. It is a decision about how the ADR processes can be varied to assist clients to resolve their issues in the face of the complexity.

This presentation outlines the WISE. A tool that can be applied to identify the best ADR process to resolve post separation parenting issues. The WISE is a tool that describes interventions from high risk safety planning only, to lower risk therapeutic processes that allow for acknowledgement and apology. The WISE is a tool to assist practitioners to identify the most appropriate intervention for the presenting client situation.

The WISE uses four colour identifiers to allocate cases from low to extreme risk. Red or extreme risk cases can be identified as those cases where FDR is inappropriate. Green cases are those that allow for the use of therapeutic/restorative modalities of FDR. Orange and Yellow are between the red and green.

Sitting beside risk assessment tools like the DOORS, the WISE focuses on the creation of case management strategies that are informed by the complexity of each case.

The WISE assists practitioners to allocate a colour to a case presentation, and in so doing to identify the most appropriate response. Responses include the application of varying models of FDR for Green, Yellow and Orange cases, to high risk safety planning for Red cases. The WISE tool then provides case interventions and safety planning recommendations directly related to the level of risk.


Jon has worked in Family Mediation since 1994. Based in Sydney he combines a dispute resolution practice, with clinical supervision of private practitioners, and Family Relationship Centres across Australia. Jon’s training portfolio includes FDR entry courses, domestic and family violence, trauma informed FDR practice, and child inclusive practice. Jon’s practice has expanded to include work in the USA, and Canada.