3E Relationship breakdown and re-partnering
Legally Assisted and Culturally Appropriate Mediation – Our Children, Our Choice
This presentation will discuss the development and implementation of Centacare NENW’s legally assisted culturally appropriate mediation program over the last year.
Aboriginal families accessing mainstream family dispute resolution services face a number of barriers including a lack of access to culturally appropriate services and language and literacy issues. Additionally, in cases of family violence, mainstream mediation services are generally not appropriate. In response to these gaps, a closed tender was issued to FRC’s to develop models to assist Aboriginal and CALD families experiencing violence to solve their problems through mediation without needing to progress to the court system. Centacare NENW was successful in applying for this tender, and is now one of 8 pilot sites delivering this program across the country.
Our model was developed as a place-based program designed to reflect the needs of the communities in our service area. It is designed to be particularly responsive to the needs of local Aboriginal families and families affected by violence. The program provides flexible services to encourage autonomy and empowerment in family decision making. In terms of culturally safe practice, this was achieved by acknowledging the role of culture and keeping it at the forefront of dispute resolution practice, as well as ensuring that families are provided with the appropriate knowledge and supports to achieve the best possible outcome through the dispute resolution process. In relation to the family violence element, we are continually evolving our model to effectively manage risk and address the issue of power imbalance to allow the parties to mediate freely and on equal footing.
This workshop will explore our experiences with the program to date, including barriers, challenges, consultation, developing a culturally safe framework and addressing family violence. The workshop will also discuss overall engagement and client outcomes.
Kelly Hatch is the Manager of Family Services at Centacare NENW.
Jesse Porter is the Community Development Officer and a Coordinator of Centacare’s Legally Assisted and Culturally Appropriate Mediation Program; Our Children, Our Choice.