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Chapter 10 Section G: Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a way of solving problems without having your dispute determined by a court or a tribunal.

ADR might occur without a complaint being lodged with a complaint handling body or a claim being filed in court. ADR could occur after a complaint or claim is made, but before it is finally determined. Sometimes ADR may have to be considered before you have the right to go to a Court or Tribunal to have your claim determined. This is the case with discrimination claims for example.

There are many types of ADR, including mediation, conciliation and arbitration.

Mediation is an increasingly common way for people to solve disputes without going to court. Mediators are independent people who help the parties in dispute reach an agreement or find a solution that is acceptable to both parties. Mediators aim to help parties to understand which issues are in dispute and possible options. They do not take sides, decide who is to blame or make a final decision for the parties.

Once an agreement is reached, it is written down by the mediator with the help of the parties who are present and who sign the completed written agreement. Mediation works best in situations where both parties are willing to address their dispute through negotiation.

This section sets out:

  • the role Community Justice Centres can play in helping you to resolve disputes you have with other people
  • the role ADR can play in helping to resolve health care complaints through the Health Conciliation Registry and the Health Care Complaints Commission’s Resolution Service ; and
  • information about private ADR.

10G.1: Community Justice Centres (CJC)

Community Justice Centre (CJC) mediation services are free, voluntary and confidential. There is no waiting list and the mediation is held at a location near you.

CJC can help you in disputes that you may have with your neighbours, family, or it may concern relationships, associations, or in relation to money or with a business that you have a problem with as a service user. For example, if you are having a dispute with your landlord, with your case manager or your neighbour, you can arrange a mediation session through CJC.

CJC cannot give you legal advice or information. If you need legal information before your mediation, you can speak to a lawyer or call LawAccess on 1300 888 529 for* free legal information and referrals.

Click here for how to arrange for mediation. Click here for information for how to prepare for a mediation. Click here to find out more about CJC services to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people solve their disagreements.

*Remember, mobile phone calls to local call numbers (numbers starting with 13 or 1300) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10G.1.1: How to organise mediation at a Community Justice Centre

The procedure for arranging mediation through a Community Justice Centre (CJC) is informal and there is no need to go in person to arrange for mediation. Simply contact your local CJC by phone on 1800 990 777*, fax: 8688 9616, or email: cjc-info@jusice.nsw.gov.au

The Centre will give you information about mediation and will contact the other people involved in the dispute to find out whether they will attend a mediation session. Mediation services are available throughout NSW.

Click here to go to the CJC website.

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10G.2: Health Care Complaints Commission Resolution Service

Complaints to the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) about health care practitioners and/or providers can lead to a number of outcomes. One of these outcomes is a referral to the HCCC’s Resolution Service.

The Resolution Service provides mediation, which involves an independent person meeting with help the person making the complaint and the health care practitioner or provider. This is a voluntary process. It can be an opportunity for the person making the complaint and the health care practitioner or provider to express their points of view, understand each other and reach an agreement about how the situation can be addressed.

For real examples of Assisted Resolution, click here.

An Assessment Officer in the HCCC can decide whether a complaint is referred to the Resolution Service. However, if this seems an appropriate way for you to resolve your complaint or concern, you should ask for a referral to the Assisted Resolution in your complaint letter to the HCCC.

You could also contact the HCCC on 02 9219 7444 or 1800 043 159 * before you write your complaint.

For more information about the Resolution Service at the HCCC, click here.

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10G.3: Private Dispute Resolution

Many solicitors offer services in alternative dispute resolution, including mediation.

The NSW Law Society has a Mediation Program. There is a cost involved in using this service.

To find a mediator in this program, you should complete an online Mediation Program application form or contact the Community Referral Service Officer on 02 9926 0396.

After you pay the initial mediation fee and once the fee is received from both parties, the Law Society will appoint a mediator. The mediator will be an independent solicitor. For more information about what to expect in mediation in this program, click here.

To find out more about Justice Connect click here.

Updated October 25, 2020