Mediation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have shown a lot of interest in mediation since Dispute Resolution Centres were established.

Mediation is more in tune with the traditional ways of settling disputes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities than the legal and criminal justice system.

Mediation helps communities:

  • keep ownership of disputes
  • use elements of customary law and practice
  • find solutions that are in keeping with their cultural values.

Conflict in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities tends to affect all community members. Therefore, problems can be complex and need a creative and flexible approach.

We have been invited to several remote Indigenous communities to help community members resolve many types of conflict. With mediation, everyone involved in the problem has a say, so the solution is more satisfying than a court order.

Most of the time, our mediators succeed in bringing disputing community members together to discuss their differences.

We work closely with communities to deliver our services in a culturally sensitive and appropriate manner.

Indigenous mediators

Several of our community mediation panels include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mediators.

In some cases, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients have preferred the assistance of Indigenous mediators, while others have preferred mediators of another cultural background.

We ask Indigenous clients their preference regarding the cultural background of mediators.

Also, the pre-mediation interview may be conducted by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.

Confidentiality, privilege and impartiality

The people involved in the mediation decide the degree of confidentiality. Mediation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities often involves large groups of people, and the issues tend to be public in nature.

The parties may often view the concept of confidentiality differently. However, mediators take an oath of secrecy and promise that they will not discuss mediations publicly.

Also, mediation is privileged, meaning nothing said during mediation can be used in court.

Enforcing agreements

Normally mediation agreements are not legally binding, but you can make your agreement enforceable if you choose.

You can include a statement stating that you want the agreement to be legally binding, including details on who will arrange for a solicitor to draw up the necessary documents.

Training in mediation

We also provide dispute resolution training for many Indigenous people, organisations and communities. Find out more about training in mediation.