Ten years in conflict resolution provides unparalleled expertise for Canberra families

Sharon Kelley 8 September 2020
Elizabeth Woods

Family dispute resolution practitioner Elizabeth Woods has worked in family dispute resolution for over 10 years. Photo: Supplied.

Conflict Resolution Service (CRS) is passionate about resolving and settling family disputes in the Canberra community. CRS family dispute resolution practitioners are specifically trained to deal with family issues and are qualified to issue for an application to court.

Conflict Resolution Service CEO Mel Haley said early intervention methods like family dispute resolution allows families to agree on a path forward that is in the best interest of children.

“CRS can provide either individual or legally assisted family dispute resolution services to families who are separating and help to reduce the financial burden of family breakdown,” said Ms Haley.

Studies show that only 3 per cent of separated parents use court as their main pathway for making parenting arrangements, while 97 per cent of separated parents make their own parenting arrangements with 16 per cent of these using Family Dispute Resolution to develop a parenting arrangement.

CRS has seven family dispute resolution practitioners in their team who work with families around Canberra to provide a professional and comfortable environment to resolve conflict. Practitioner Elizabeth Woods has worked with Conflict Resolution Service for over 20 years, the last 10 in family dispute resolution.


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“What we do is support an environment where individuals can create their own outcomes according to the situation,” she said.

Ms Woods said that every case CRS receives is different and unique, but there is generally a common theme in dealing with family disputes.

“In relationship breakdowns, base emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, and so on, can be the first reaction to any suggested compromise. At CRS, we work with both parties individually to help them recognise the behaviours, and replace them with logical and sensible preparedness to compromise for the good of any care arrangements with children.”

She added that any relationship can be hijacked by the fight or flight response, where the sensible, executive functions of the brain can be overwhelmed by a negative emotional response.

“We know that even in the most complex situations, having a connection to family is important for children’s sense of security and their social and emotional development,” said CRS CEO Ms Haley.

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

While it may not seem possible at the start of the process to reach a somewhat amicable agreement about the matters in dispute, Ms Haley said more often than not, recognising the patterns of behaviour in both parties that are preventing agreements is key to resolving differences.

“Mediation is a specialised area where you are given a process to follow. It is a specific, well thought out process. Mediation is very reliable when you follow the process.”

The voice of the child in family separation is important and CRS follow an evidence-based approach designed to ensure a child’s emotional needs are maintained post-separation. Child Inclusive Practice is a safe environment and available to families with children aged 5 years and older.

“This program is essential to keeping young people and their families connected,” Ms Haley said.

If you would like to book family mediation sessions through Conflict Resolution Services, contact the office by phone on 02 6189 0590, or email.


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