5U Relationship breakdown and re-partnering
Mediating with Intact Families (MIF): innovative early intervention
The sign outside all FRCs reads:
- Strengthening family relationships
- Helping families stay together
- Assisting families through separation.
We’re good at number 3, but, 12 years on, we’ve never tried numbers 1 and 2. One of the themes that emerged from the last FRSA conference was not just how effective early intervention is, but also how relatively cheap. Instead of rescuing and rehabilitating families after a car wreck, why not teach parents how to drive?
As part of the Legally Assisted and Culturally Appropriate Family Dispute Resolution (CALD) programme, Broadmeadows FRC is mediating with intact culturally and linguistically diverse families. The focus of MIF is on problem solving and improving communication. A maximum of two sessions is offered to resolve a particular issue. Initially, family dispute resolution practitioners engaged in MIF were thinking of incorporating family counselling and single session techniques, however, the more we worked with intact families, the more it became apparent that the existing FDR framework and procedures were supportive and appropriate: intake, face-to-face assessments with Common Risk Assessment Framework, mental health and drug and alcohol risk screening, FDR with all relevant parties and whiteboard notes with agreements. The only things dissimilar are that there is no information session, parenting plan or certificate.
Our most numerous CALD groups are, in order, Arabic speaking, Turkish and Indian. The promotion has been aimed at these communities, and the flyers are all in respective languages. It is a very common practice within families from these cultural groups that domestic tension is kept and dealt with within the family circle and, in the best situations, within the extended family. It is also common that families from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds are often reluctant to seek professional advice during the early stages for various reasons including cultural. It is the aim of the project to reach these families within our catchment area and to provide services that empower them to resolve disputes and support them to stay together.
Michael Atkinson has been a mediator for 10 years. Before that he was a musician and composer in film and TV.
Khairy Majeed is a senior cultural advisor. He is also a mediator and speaks fluent Arabic. He migrated from Iraq 30 years ago.