Annual Research Grant Call 2022: Mediator Standards Board

The Mediator Standards Board invites interested parties to submit a research proposal for the award of its Annual Research Grant (ARG).   The ARG shall be for proposals up to the total value of $50,000. 

INFORMATION FOR PROPOSERS: :  https://msb.org.au/themes/msb/assets/documents/MSBARGProposal_Call_2022.pdf.

CONTACT FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: enquiries are to be directed, in the first instance to:  Ms Jenny Watson, Secretariat Officer, Mediator Standards Board.

Email:  info@msb.org.au   Telephone:  61 3 9005 1903

The call for proposals closes at 2.00 pm on 15 July 2022 electronically by email to Ms Jenny Watson at info@msb.org.au

The NMAS Review May 2022 update: consultation complete

The NMAS Review team at Resolution Resources has now completed our consultation phase of the independent review of the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS Review) and is currently preparing recommendations for the Mediator Standards Board (MSB).

We wish to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who participated in the NMAS Review Survey in March. As we said previously, ‘participating in a survey of this type is a demanding task that requires deep reflection. It is rigorous and complex’ and ‘might be one of the most challenging surveys the DR community has ever seen.’ ‘However, we think the community is up to the challenge.’

And you were!

The data are rich with consistent themes, and we are busily analysing them with our psychometricians to ensure we make robust, evidence-based recommendations to the MSB.

The NMAS Review Survey was the last step of a five-stage consultation process. We want to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank everyone who contributed to the various stages of consultation. As we know, the DR community is diverse, and the practices within it are varied. While it was challenging to capture the perspectives of such a broad church, we hope that you see yourselves in the recommendations.

NMAS Review consultation process

Over the life of the review, we were able to gather input from different sources, including the existing NMAS, working groups, surveys, and current research. We also collected input over multiple points in time so that every consultation stage served to inform the next.

This combination resulted in each stage building cumulatively to provide a solid foundation upon which to base the recommendations. For example, in the NMAS Review Effectiveness Survey (Stage 3), people told us about their style of practice. The findings from the Effectiveness Survey (see Part 4 – Effective Survey Report coming soon) prompted us to undertake a deeper investigation into practice via the NMAS Review Survey (Stage 5).

What comes next?

The NMAS Review team at Resolution Resources will complete its role by:

  • delivering its recommendations to the MSB at the end of June 2022; and
  • facilitating the international peer review it has recommended to the MSB.

For more information on the NMAS Review, please visit the NMAS Hub.

Emma-May Litchfield and Danielle Hutchinson

NMAS Review Team — Resolution Resources

Release of Part 3 of the NMAS Effectiveness Survey Report

PART 3: EFFECTIVENESS SURVEY NMAS REVIEW 2020-21

Thank you to all those in the community who participated in the recent NMAS Review Survey. The NMAS Review team is now in the initial stages of analysing the data. The NMAS Review Survey, along with the NMAS Effectiveness Survey, workshops, reference groups and other consultative opportunities will inform the recommendations we will make to the Mediator Standards Board (MSB) from the current review of the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS). 

As part of our commitment to an honest, ethical and transparent process, new findings from the NMAS Effectiveness Survey are now available. Following on from the release of Part 2 of the Effectiveness Survey, Part 3 of the NMAS Effectiveness Survey Report is now available to download from the NMAS Review Hub and the Mediator Standards Board (MSB) website.

This blogpost provides: 

a. Insight into Part 3 of the NMAS Effectiveness Survey Report 

b. Background information  

We welcome your thoughts and comments about the Reports!


a. NMAS Effectiveness Survey Report – Part 3 

What have we learned so far?

Part 1 of the Report provides insight into who participated in the survey. 

Part 2 of the Report provides insight into whether mediators perceive the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS) as helpful in relation to six contexts.

Part 3 of the Report drills down even further into these contexts, and analyses them against four factors:

  • the mediator’s primary area of practice (type)
  • years of experience
  • age and
  • gender

Findings from the Part 3 indicate it has become ‘evident that some of these factors may indeed shape mediators’ perceptions of the NMAS’. In response to the main themes arising from the findings, Part 3 also includes six preliminary recommendations, signalling potential priorities for the MSB or its member organisations (MSB Orgs).

Celebrate the ongoing legacy of NADRAC and its potential role in shaping how many mediators perceive the NMAS today’ 

PART 3: EFFECTIVENESS SURVEY NMAS REVIEW 2020-21

Here is a sample of the findings and recommendations contained in Part 3:

1. ‘Commercial mediators, conciliators and civil mediators are more likely than other types of mediators to perceive the NMAS as helpful’. This is surprising considering ‘community mediators, the group often most closely associated with facilitative mediation as described in the NMAS, were not as consistent or as positive as what some may have expected. For example, some may find it surprising that, while the numbers were small (8%), they, like FDRPs, reported the highest proportion of mediators labelling the NMAS as not helpful in connection to training and accreditation.’ 

RECOMMENDATION: ‘Identify ways to maximise the NMAS’s capacity in guiding everyday practice and promoting/developing mediation services irrespective of mediator type, level of experience or age.’ 


2. ‘The amount of time in practice or years of experience (YE) played a role in how mediators perceived the NMAS, with a number of statistically significant differences observed between YE groups regarding promoting and developing mediation services, promoting mediator credibility and promoting mediation as a profession.’ 

‘Notably, many of these differences centred around comparisons to the responses of mediators with 25–28 YE. This group reported the highest proportion of ‘very helpful’ responses in five of the six contexts.’

‘Curiously, these sentiments were often not reflected in the adjacent YE groups, prompting the question, “Was there a major change or event between 1993 and 1996 that may shed light on this group of mediators?”’. Part 3 of the Report makes the connection ‘that this period saw quite a surge in ADR-related reforms[1], including the establishment in 1995 of the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council (NADRAC)’.

Interestingly, ‘mediators with 17–20 YE had the highest proportion of respondents labelling the NMAS as helpful in developing services, participating in CPD, promoting mediator credibility and promoting mediation as a profession.’ ‘Again, the corresponding period between 2001–2004 coincided with the release of several seminal NADRAC papers, including ‘A Framework for ADR Standards’ (April 2001)[2]‘.

The report states that ‘while correlation is not causation, it would seem remiss not to acknowledge the correlation between these pivotal moments in ADR and’ the ‘statistically significant’ findings, ‘as they are likely to be representative more broadly’. 

RECOMMENDATION: ‘Celebrate the ongoing legacy of NADRAC and its potential role in shaping how many mediators perceive the NMAS today.’ 


3. ‘There was minimal variation between genders and no statistically significant findings. This suggests that gender is unlikely to influence whether the NMAS was perceived as helpful across the given contexts.’  

RECOMMENDATION: ‘Acknowledge that gender appeared to play almost no role in mediators’ perceptions of the NMAS’s helpfulness.’


b. Background

NMAS Review 

In late 2020, the MSB engaged the team at Resolution Resources to review the NMAS. We encourage everyone in the dispute resolution community to learn more about the purpose and methodology used to conduct this current review. 

NMAS Effectiveness Survey 

The Effectiveness Survey was conducted in March 2021. The purpose of the survey was to ascertain the extent to which MSB member organisations and mediators perceive the NMAS Standards to be helpful. It was also an opportunity to gather data about the mediation community, some of which informed design the recent  NMAS Review Survey. 

The Effectiveness Survey Report will be released in four parts:

To review the complete summary of findings and recommendations, we invite you to read Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Effectiveness Survey Report – available to download now on the NMAS Review Hub. The MSB is also releasing findings on their LinkedIn page and website. Follow them for more updates.


The NMAS Review Hub has been specifically constructed to provide up-to-date and transparent information about the review. We invite everyone in the DR community to visit regularly and/or subscribe to receive news updates and information about the upcoming NMAS Survey! 

The NMAS Review Team 

Emma-May Litchfield and Danielle Hutchinson


[1] Such as the Courts Legislation (Mediation and Evaluation) Amendment Act 1994 (NSW); For more information in reforms during this time see Tom Altobelli, ‘Mediation in the Nineties: The Promise of the Past’ (2000) 4 Macarthur Law Review 103.

[2] NADRAC papers including , A Framework for ADR Standards (April 2001), Principles on Technology and ADR (March 2002), Dispute Resolution Terms (September 2003) can be accessed via Trove, a collaborative initiative of the National Library of Australia <https://webarchive.nla.gov.au/awa/20191107002242/https://www.ag.gov.au/LegalSystem/Alternate

Kate Yeoman: ADR Research Network 10th Annual Roundtable 2022

Kate Yeoman discusses her paper on ‘Designing and Engaging with a Structured System of Reflective Practice’ with members of the Australasian Dispute Resolution Research Network.

The System of Reflective Practice described in this talk is the intellectual property of Kate Yeoman. All rights reserved.

NMAS Review Survey open now!

The NMAS Review Team are pleased to announce that the NMAS Review Survey is now open from 14 February – 4 March 2022.

The NMAS Review Survey is the important final stage of our consultation process for the current review of the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS). The Mediator Standards Board (MSB) will conduct further consultation in response to the recommendations arising out of the review.

Who can answer the survey?

This survey is designed for the entire dispute resolution community. We need your help to extend the invitation to people or organisations in your network. With your support, this survey has the potential to be one of the largest data gathering processes of its kind ever attempted in Australia, and will make an important contribution to the field of industry-based research into dispute resolution.

As academics, we all know that the the more people who answer the survey the more robust the data will be. We want all stakeholders to be represented — practitoners, organisations, academics, users — anyone with an interest in dispute resolution can make a valuable contribution. Consider distributing the invitation to your students who are participating in ADR subjects, members of committes (e.g. ADRAC, The Alernative Dispute Resolution Committee, etc.) lawyers who work with mediators, other academics, mediators and other non-determinative dispute resolution practitoners.

What is in the survey?

The NMAS Review Survey considers the current Approval and Practice Standards for NMAS accredited mediators (the Standards), the technical and structural elements of the NMAS (the System), as well as other areas for further investigation that have arisen from consultation so far. 

The survey was developed in response to consultation and designed using a well-established methodology for the development of standards. Analysis of the survey will inform recommendations made to the MSB in relation to the review of the current NMAS.

The survey is made up of two parts:

Part 1: The Professional Practice Standards

Everyone who participates in the survey is asked to complete this section. It will take approximately 60 minutes to answer all of Part 1.

Part 2: The Approval Standards and System

We encourage everyone to complete this section. MSB Member Organisation hold specific responsibilities under the NMAS and will be automatically directed to complete both Parts 1 & 2. All other participants will be given the option to complete Part 2. It will take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

FAQs

We anticipate that you may have questions. The NMAS Review Survey may look unlike any survey you have completed before — and there are several reasons for this.

For FAQs and a recording of recent NMAS Review Survey Information Session hosted by Mediation Institute, please visit NMAS Review Survey FAQs.

Thank you all for your support with the NMAS Review.

The NMAS Review Team