Safe and Supported: Developing a MODEL for MEDIATING FAMILY VIOLENCE Cases Beyond Family Law

Dr Becky BatagolProfessor Rachael Field2

1 Monash University, 2 Bond University 

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The imperatives relating to mediation and family violence remain broadly similar regardless of the context. There is a legitimate concern about the use of informal dispute resolution processes in cases of family violence because of deep power imbalances between perpetrators and victims. However, with appropriate support, a focus on safety and careful attention not to minimise the violence, there are clear potential benefits of mediation for victims of family violence. The benefits can include self-determination, certainty, reduced financial and other costs and timeliness.

A great deal of attention has been paid to mediating cases in which there is a history of family violence in the field of family law. In Australia, a model of family dispute resolution known as Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution has been pioneered for such cases.[1]

Outside the family law field, less, if any, attention has been paid to how to appropriately identify and respond to cases of family violence in mediation practice. Family violence mediation takes place in disputes with providers of essential services, such as electricity, water, banking and telecommunications, as a result of economic abuse. It may take place in child protection conciliation conferences/ADR in state Children’s Courts and it can take place in the negotiation/mediation process that takes place in finalising the conditions of family violence orders in state magistrates’ courts.

Building on mediation practice in family law, this paper will outline elements of a proposed safe and supported model of mediation for victims of family violence

[1] R Field and A Lynch, ‘Hearing Parties’ Voices in Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution (CFDR): An Australian Pilot of a Family Mediation Model Designed for Matters Involving a History of Domestic Violence’ (2014) 36(4) The Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 392


Dr Becky Batagol is a researcher and teacher with a focus on family law, family violence, non-adversarial justice, dispute resolution, gender, child protection and constitutional law. Becky is the co-author of Non-Adversarial Justice (2nd ed, 2014), Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law? The Case of Family Mediation (2011) and the author of many academic articles. Becky is a contributor to the ADR Research network blog and tweets regularly under the handle @BeckyBatagol. Becky has taught the world-first subject Non-Adversarial Justice at Monash University for the last decade and she was awarded a National Tertiary Teaching Award in 2014.

Professor Rachael Field has published widely in her areas of research interest which include dispute resolution, women and the law and family law, the first year experience, legal education, and student success and well-being. Her research portfolio of publications is regularly cited and her work in the areas of mediation and domestic violence, legal education and law student success and well-being has had significant national impact and also some international level influence. Rachael’s research and scholarship in the areas of legal education and student success and well-being has had significant impact at a national level and is also beginning to have impact at an international level. Her impressive body of research work contributed to her being named 2013 Queensland Woman of the Year.

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