A Tribute to Mediation’s Grassroots


sps_1473 staff on call1While mediation has become a generic and ubiquitous brand it is worth recalling its 1980s Australian genesis in community justice programs throughout the country. Despite the contemporary preponderance of mediation within courts, tribunals, commissions and other legal institutions or legal contexts, the community justice programs have continued in less prominent forms and have increased their scope and services over time. While it is tempting to consider multiple future adaptions of mediation through replacement and disruptive technology and in many different dispute areas, it is appropriate to recognise the anchoring effect of its earliest community manifestations. While disruption (or, more positively, transformation) is a vogue concept of the age there is also a value in those who maintain the practice of traditional forms of mediation. While welcoming the inn

This is not, however, to pine wistfully for a return to mediation’s original intent and identity, as is sometimes heard at conferences. The system now has multiple intents and numerous identities; its future must be considered in the light of the present, and we reject an over-nostalgic view of mediation’s past. As we said in Australian Dispute Resolution, it is important to engage with ‘the discontinuities in the history of DR in Australia to help us learn from the past, avoid reinventing the wheel, remind us of the ideas and approaches that have been jettisoned, and appreciate why they have been discontinued or replaced’.

sps_1330 mediation scene

We hope you have enjoyed the series of posts from Chapter 12 of our new book Mediation in Australia (LexisNexis, 2018).

Laurence Boulle and Rachael Field

This entry was posted in Dispute resolution by Dr Rachael Field. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dr Rachael Field

Rachael is a Professor of Law in the Law Faculty of Bond University. Her key teaching and research interests are in legal education and dispute resolution. Rachael was awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation in 2008 and was made an ALTC Teaching Fellow in 2010. In 2010 Rachael worked with Professors Sally Kift and Mark Israel on the development of the Threshold Learning Outcomes for Law. In 2013 Rachael and Prof Nick James published a first year law text entitled "The New Lawyer". Rachael has been a member of the First Year in Higher Education Conference organising committee since 2007 and now chairs that committee. She was awarded the 2013 Lexis Nexis Australasian Law Teachers’ Association Major Prize for Teaching Excellence and Innovation jointly with her colleague James Duffy. In 2014 Rachael was awarded an Office of Learning and Teaching national Teaching Excellence Award. Rachael has also been a member of the Women’s Legal Service, Brisbane Management Committee since 1994 and has been President of the Service since 2004. In 2010 Rachael, along with the Women's Legal Service Brisbane, was commissioned by the Federal Attorney-General to design a model of family dispute resolution for use in matters where there is a history of domestic violence. This model was implemented in 5 locations around Australia for 18 months and was evaluated by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. In 2011 and 2012 Rachael was invited by the Australian Human Rights Commission to contribute to their International Program by presenting the model to bi-lateral workshops with the All China Women's Federation. Rachael completed her PhD through the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Professor Hilary Astor in 2011. Her thesis explored the notion of neutrality in mediation and offers an alternative paradigm based on professional mediator ethics. Rachael was named Queensland Women Lawyer of the Year for 2013. Research Interests • Dispute Resolution • Women and the Law • Restorative Justice • Family Law • Legal Education

1 thought on “A Tribute to Mediation’s Grassroots

  1. Hi Rachael,

    I am walking the Camino in Spain, 745ks from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I logged onto Wifi and found your post. I completely agree with you, we should build on our DR history and continue to develop new systems for the future. Great commment.


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