find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
Infrastructure Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Perth WA
· We'd be particularly interested to hear from you if you were a lawyer who knows your way around the infrastructure and energy sectors.
View details
NSW AG hails impact of ADR in Children’s Court

NSW AG hails impact of ADR in Children’s Court

An inquiry into the NSW child protection system has paved the way for the greater use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in the Children’s Court.

NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith (pictured) used his opening address at the 11th National Mediation Conference yesterday to give details of the ADR-related initiatives his department has spearheaded. 

“These ADR initiatives were aimed at increasing the ability of families to actively participate in the decision-making process around their child’s future care,” said Smith.

The Attorney-General's department has recommended a range of ADR models to operate from the time the child welfare agency first has contact with a family to when an application is filed in the Children’s Court.

One of the initiatives to arise from these recommendations is dispute resolution conferences, which use a conciliation model, are run for two hours by a trained mediator, and take place within courthouse accommodation.

Smith warned that ADR had not typically been used in the NSW care jurisdiction and, as a result, many lawyers and community services’ caseworkers questioned whether it was appropriate to negotiate with families about issues like restoration of children and contact.

In response, the department conducted information and training sessions for lawyers and caseworkers and developed promotional material for families “to give them an idea of what to expect on the day and how to prepare for a conference”.

To measure the success of ADR in a jurisdiction that has traditionally been resistant to ADR, an independent evaluation of the conferences was commissioned by the department.

The evaluation report – which has not yet been made public - found that around 80 per cent of all conferences resulted in the issues in dispute being either fully resolved or narrowed. 

“The evaluation has shown that these programs have made a significant difference to the lives of families going through care and protection proceedings in the NSW Children’s Court,” said Smith. “In fact, even I have been surprised at just what a difference these programs have made.”

The report showed a high level of satisfaction with the conferences, with around nine out of 10 family members reporting that the conference treated them fairly, and over 80 per cent felt that they had been given an opportunity to tell their side of the story.

“These findings are particularly important to note,” said Smith. “Many parents and family members had previously felt confused and alienated by Children’s Court proceedings.”

Smith added that, despite some initial hesitation from lawyers, between 82 per cent and 89 per cent who participated in a conference found it useful.

“Overall, the evaluation report found that use of ADR in the Children’s Court delivered a range of benefits for the parties involved. It recommends the continued use of ADR in care matters,” said Smith.

Meanwhile, the Attorney-General’s department has begun building an evidence base to inform future ADR projects to make sure that they are targeted and effective. 

“NSW is the first state to begin a methodical investigation into the use of ADR by its state agencies,” said Smith.

“The first step in the process has been to institute an annual survey that asks all NSW state legal departments to provide information about how ADR is used by the agency to resolve legal disputes and what savings in legal costs are achieved as a result.”

The 11th National Mediation Conference runs until Thursday at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

NSW AG hails impact of ADR in Children’s Court
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Violence
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
Nov 16 2017
From lawyer in law firm to senior governance professional
Promoted by Governance Institute of Australia As a law graduate, Kate Griffiths never imagined...
marriage equality
Nov 16 2017
Legislation the next hurdle for marriage equality
Lawyers have underscored the importance of ensuring same-sex marriage legislation does not limit ant...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...