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.
Joanne Burnett (Southern Cross University) discusses her paper on ‘What Is “Good” Practice Addressing Family Violence in Family Law Mediation?’ with members of the Australasian Dispute Resolution Research Network.
Dr Amira Aftab (Western Sydney University) discusses her paper on ‘Navigating Cultural and Religious Needs in Family Dispute Resolution’ with members of the Australasian Dispute Resolution Research Network.
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
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).
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, 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)‘.
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.’
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
 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.
Karen Bowers (University of Newcastle) discusses her paper on ‘Is Mediation the Best Medicine? Evaluating the Impact of Pre-Court Procedures for Medical Negligence Cases in Australia’ with members of the Australasian Dispute Resolution Research Network.
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.
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.
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.
Associate Professor Grant Morris (Victoria University of Wellington) discusses his paper on ‘Dispute Resolution in a Pandemic: The Impact of the COVID Pandemic on the New Zealand Dispute Resolution Landscape and Beyond’ with members of the Australasian Dispute Resolution Research Network.