11 March 2020

Canberra not-for-profits join forces to provide better family dispute support

| Karyn Starmer
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Conflict Resolution Service CEO Mel Haley

Conflict Resolution Service CEO Mel Haley says the two organisations joining forces will further support the Canberra community with family dispute matters. Photo: Region Media.

Two Canberra-based not-for-profits – Conflict Resolution Service and the Women’s Legal Centre ACT – have joined forces to further support the Canberra community during family dispute matters.

Conflict Resolution Service CEO Mel Haley says family separation and the adverse effects of marriage breakdown are huge issues for the people of Canberra.

“We have established an agreement with the Women’s Legal Centre in the ACT that will see our organisations work together to act as a referral base for the Canberra community. This means we can provide legally assisted mediation services to families who are separating and help to reduce the financial burden of family breakdown,” Haley said.

“An early intervention approach will help avoid the economic abuse that can come with separation, and help provide long-term financial security to families in the Canberra community.”

Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show a staggering 49,032 divorces were granted in 2017, with research showing that the financial impact of divorce can last for decades.

In 2018, data from the Australian Institute of Family Studies showed that people who went through a divorce in their 30s and 40s felt the financial pain well into retirement age.

Under the agreement between Conflict Resolution Services and the Women’s Legal Centre ACT, qualifying women and families will receive a significant 50 per cent discount on mediation services with Conflict Resolution Services if they are referred from the Women’s Legal Centre ACT.

Women’s Legal Centre ACT Principal Solicitor Claudia Maclean says the partnership with Conflict Resolution Service offers a low-cost option for people who don’t qualify for legal aid but can’t afford a private lawyer.

“This is a big gap in Canberra. These are vulnerable women, often with a disability or looking after children with a disability, or from a non-English speaking background or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, all of whom are at a real risk of homelessness following a separation,” Claudia said.

“Lawyer-assisted mediation can lead to people having input and ownership of the final outcomes, greater flexibility within agreements, and reducing conflict post-separation.”

If you or someone you know is going through separation or is experiencing hardship as a result of conflict, contact the Conflict Resolution Service or the Women’s Legal Centre ACT.

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