The Hobart Family Relationship Centre (HFRC) was one of the first 15 Centre’s to be established across Australia. The Centre provides confidential information, support and referrals for families as well as individual appointments, information sessions and family dispute resolution (mediation) for separating or separated families in relation to parenting matters.
Family dispute resolution is a process by which parents who are in conflict can be helped by a family dispute resolution practitioner (mediator), who is an independent and neutral third party, to communicate with each other about what is important to them and how to make decisions about resolving their dispute. It is now compulsory in the sense that parents who wish to go to court in relation to their children (parenting matters) are required to first attend family dispute resolution and make a 'genuine effort' to resolve their dispute. Some exceptions to this requirement apply - for example, in situations involving family violence or child abuse, or in urgent matters.
Family dispute resolution is a three step process as follows:
1. individual intake and assessment with a family dispute resolution practitioner (mediator)
2. education session regarding children's needs, the family dispute resolution process and strategies to help with communication and negotiation
3. joint family dispute resolution session(s) which can take different forms to accommodate varying needs such as both clients in the same room, a shuttle process where each client is in a separate room or attends on a different day or telephone mediation.
Our family dispute resolution practitioners (mediators) come from a variety of professional backgrounds such as social sciences, psychology, education and law. They are accredited and trained in resolving disputes relating to families. They do not give legal advice but will explore general principles that apply to couples who are separating and they may give advice and information in relation to children and parenting matters, focusing on 'the best interests of the child'. As well as parents, they can assist grandparents or other family members who would like to talk about the needs of related children.