The best mediation and conflict resolution services in Canberra

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Mel Haley, CEO of Conflict Resolution Service – one of Canberra’s most recommended conflict resolution and mediation services. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

From time-to-time, everyone faces situations that need sorting. Perhaps it’s an expected issue or something life throws up unexpectedly. Situations vary, in both work and personal life. You may face a workplace disagreement, for example, be dealing with an issue with a neighbour, or grappling with a family dispute. Whatever the case, living with unresolved conflict takes its toll.

Conflicts are some of the most stressful situations we encounter As the days turn into weeks, with unresolved conflict, we suffer from rising levels of discomfort.

It becomes even more challenging when parties can not come to a mutual agreement. With the risk of litigation looming, engaging a professional mediator can help. Mediation is a highly specialised and unique field, anchored in the art of solving a problem. Also known as conflict resolution, mediation aims to engage disputing parties and seek an amicable solution.

A mediator is a neutral representative of all parties, who’s role is to help each tell their side of the story. In doing so, the mediator acts as the objective third party, structuring the discussion and facilitating clear communication. Through these meetings the mediator helps parties understand the problem, define issues of importance, and find areas of common ground. Importantly, a mediator navigates parties towards an agreement, keeping the dispute out of court.

Mediation also plays an important role in reducing the cost of conflict. Early intervention in the case of divorce for example, can help reduce the financial impact that comes with separation. It is often quicker and less costly than taking the issue to court or tribunal. Moreover, it offers a greater degree of ownership in determining the outcome, and more flexibility for parties in general.

That said, quite a lot often rests on effective mediation. To ensure your chance of reaching an acceptable settlement only the best mediation and conflict resolution teams should be considered. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up the best mediators in Canberra so read on below to find out more.

What makes a great mediation and conflict resolution service?

The best mediation and conflict resolution services are a credible, and nationally accredited with the Mediation Standards Board. They maintain objectivity, are highly adaptable, and persevere to the very end. The cream of the crop will be known for settling resolutions that best fit the needs of all parties, removing the need for litigation. Here are some cues to help you evaluate your next mediator service:

  • Qualified & accredited. While there are no mandatory qualifications to practice as a mediator, all good mediators are accredited under the National Mediator Accreditation System. This national accreditation scheme ensures minimum standards of education and training for mediators. Moreover, many also possess qualifications in relevant fields such as law, education,
    psychology and other related disciplines.
  • Specialised expertise. While no two disputes are ever the same, there are specific areas of specialisation that are worth considering. Some disputes involve businesses, some are linked to employment affairs, and others are family matters. As such, finding a mediation and conflict resolution service that specialises in your area of need is incredibly important. It will ensure that they have the depth of knowledge to understand the ins and outs of the law. And importantly, the breadth of experience to remain impartial.
  • Reputable. While being hard to earn, a good reputation certainly goes the distance. Reputable mediation services are known for being leaders in their field, and the best often come recommended. As such, seek out conflict resolution services with high settlement rates. Speak to colleagues, friends and family, lawyers, even do some research and you will soon find a list of the most reputable teams in the region.
  • Exemplary communicators. In times of great emotional and psychological stress, clear and concise communication goes a long way. Needless to say; the best mediators have interpersonal communication skills down to fine art. They are present, listen attentively, clarify, and re-clarify, and take the glass half-full approach. The best mediators have a knack for understanding differing perspectives and bridging common ground.
  • Tenacious. In an ideal situation, all parties put their best offer on the table the first time around everything thereafter flows seamlessly. The reality however is often quite different! The most successful mediators are tenacious. They deploy everything within their power to keep the ball rolling all the way through to a signature on a dotted line. This means they have the skills to keep negotiations going despite any – and all – obstacles to settlement.

The best mediation and conflict resolutions services in Canberra

Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Conflict Resolution Service

Conflict Resolution Service

Not-for-profit organisation Conflict Resolution Service (CRS) has supported the ACT region in dispute resolution for over 30 years. Its passionate team of highly trained and experienced staff deliver effective, low cost mediation services to the people of Canberra and surrounds.

CRS offers services including:

  • Family dispute resolution
  • Community mediation
  • Crisis mediation to prevent youth homelessness
  • Conflict coaching for families and individuals
  • Workplace mediation
  • Workplace consultations, training and professional development for individuals and organisations.

CRS provides conflict resolution through mediation and other alternative dispute resolution services across all three main areas of people’s lives: family, work and community. It is also an accredited mediator body and training provider, offering training programs in mediation and conflict resolution.

CRS also won the Excellence in Implementation of Evidence Informed Practice Award at the 2019 & 2020 Yogie Awards, which recognise outstanding practice in working with young people in the Canberra region.

1/32-38 Townshend Street
Phillip ACT 2606
Parker Coles Curtis

Parker Coles Curtis

With a mix of compassion, skills and life experience, Parker Coles Curtis provides clients facing stressful separation with support and guidance to help them move on to a brighter future.

Conflict resolution, including mediation, is a major strength at Parker Coles Curtis, with qualified lawyers putting their clients' nerves to rest and protecting them through what can be a very emotional and challenging time. Their lawyers are knowledgeable in supporting clients through the mediation process, advocating for them and assisting with real-time advice every step of the way to achieve the best outcome possible. Whether clients need a separation agreement, consent orders, a Binding Financial Agreement or a Parenting Plan, Parker Coles Curtis will complete the legal documents required to make any agreements made through mediation legally binding.

Founding Director, Debra Parker, is a highly regarded, award-winning mediator and dispute resolution practitioner. She is also a Collaborative Family Lawyer and qualified arbitrator. A change-maker in the alternative dispute resolution space who deals with high conflict matters with fantastic results for clients requiring mediation.

Debra is backed by a highly qualified team that knows all the tips and tricks and understands how family law problems are diverse and complicated. The team understands that sensible solutions deliver the best outcomes. Lawyers support clients by navigating discussions and decisions including finances, child custody, property, assets and conflicts.

Parker Coles Cutis are always there for clients when life happens. Contact Parker Coles Curtis for a free 15-minute consultation.

On Google, Stephen Harden wrote, "The entire team at Parker Coles Curtis were absolutely brilliant with my divorce matter. Would thoroughly recommend them."

Level 9, 1 Hobart Place
Canberra ACT 2601

Keogh Mediation

Owner and principal Liz Keogh is a highly regarded family lawyer with a twenty year plus history in the family law system.

With mediation is her professional focus since 2016, Liz utilises her understanding of the legal and emotional complexities of decision making for separated families.

This focus on family dispute resolution assists parties with mediation services regarding the care of children, financial matters, and division assets in the event of separation. Her ethos is embedded in her practice, which seeks to draw out an understanding for other’s perspectives as the cornerstone for effective resolution.

Alana Jacobs had this to say about Keogh Mediation on Google, I have only had great experiences working with Liz as a mediator. She is personable yet professional and always gets results. I highly recommend her services.”

Legal Aid ACT

Legal Aid ACT helps Canberrans with legal issues, particularly those who are socially or economically disadvantaged. It offers lawyer-assisted family dispute resolution (mediation) for separating couples and families.

Its team can help you get the right legal advice, identify issues concerning your children and finances, reach child-focused agreements, and draft parenting plans and legally binding consent orders. Legal Aid ACT's office is in Civic.

David Henshall shared this review on Google, "I sought advice there yesterday about a neighbourhood dispute issue. The free consultation was extremely helpful in clarifying my thoughts and working out potential next steps, both legally and ethically. Many thanks. A wonderful community service."

Australian Family Lawyers

Centrally located in Canberra City, Australian Family Lawyers specialise in the area of family law. Lead by the firms Head of Family Law, Courtney Mullen, their team of seasoned and skilled lawyers provide counselling and resolution on all family matters.

They pride themselves on cutting through legal jargon delivering clear advice and the best possible care throughout your family mediation matter. Australian Family Lawyers offer free consultations and some fixed fees, allowing you to stress less about costs and the law, and focus on the journey in front of you and your family.

Kristy Lee Tyrrell shared her experience with the team on Google, "Clear advice with the best interests of the child always front and centre. Helping parents see clearly when we are at our most stressed."

Farrar Gesini Dunn

Specialising exclusively in family law, Farrar Gesini and Dunn have been operating in Australia for over twenty years. With offices in Sydney, Melbourne, and right here at home in Canberra, the firm offers comprehensive mediation services to families.

Mediators Robert Routh and Kristal Simson are highly experienced family law professionals.  Together, they work with parties to facilitate effective and constructive communication along with options for resolution and settlement.

Wildlife Whisperer had this to say on Google, I went to Farrar Gesini Dunn with a family law matter. They responded quickly, professionally, gave me tailored advice for my situation and budget, and undertook work as agreed. I would highly recommend them.”

If you’re looking for more information on legal services in Canberra, you might like our article on the best wills and estate lawyers, the best probate services, the best divorce lawyers, the best personal injury lawyers, the best employment lawyers, best criminal lawyers or perhaps this article on the best law firms Canberra has to offer.

Your experience with mediation and conflict resolution services in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the mediation and conflict resolution services listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is mediation?

Mediation is a structured negotiation process whereby an independent party, known as a mediator, assists others to find, assess, and negotiate options to resolve a dispute. Typically, a mediator will remain neutral and does not provide legal advice. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution, whereby a resolution is reached without a court hearing. As such, it is an alternative to a judge imposing a decision.

Is mediation the same as conciliation?

Conciliation is similar to mediation; however it differs as a conciliator may also suggest solutions to your problem. Conciliation is another type of alternative dispute resolution, whereby a resolution is reached without a court hearing.

Why should I consider mediation?

In many instances, mediation is beneficial means by which to resolve disputes. Involvement by parties ensures they can determine the end result, and at times do so with greater flexibility, more swiftly, and with less cost than a hearing in a court or tribunal.

What do mediation and conflict resolutions services charge?

There are several mediation routes available depending on your need, such as family or employment disputes. Many types of mediation services, such as Community Justice Centres, are free. Private mediators however will charge a fee. If in doubt, ask your mediation provider for full details on fees that apply to your case.

How do I enforce an agreement made at mediation?

Should parties come to an agreement through mediation, they can also agree as to whether it will be informally made in ‘good faith’, or whether it will be enforceable. Enforceable agreements are legally binding, which means that parties can take legal action to ensure the agreement is met.

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I have participated in a mediation managed by SHAW Dispute Resolution in Canberra – highly recommend them too. Professional and ensured our dispute did not proceed to further means.

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