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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 finally determined by a court or a tribunal. In mediation, which is a form of ADR, the parties in dispute agree to a solution to a problem.

Other forms of alternative dispute resolution include conciliation and arbitration. ADR might occur without a complaint being lodged with a complaint handling body or a claim being filed in court, or it could occur after a complaint or claim is made or filed 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.

This section sets out the role Community Justice Centres can play in helping you to resolve disputes you have with other people.

The section also outlines 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.

There is also information about private ADR.

10G.1: Community Justice Centres

Anyone involved in a dispute can take steps to resolve it through mediation. 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 a Community Justice Centre (CJC).

CJC Mediation services are free, voluntary and confidential.

Mediators do not take sides or decide who is to blame. They help the parties in dispute to reach agreement or find a solution that is acceptable to both parties. Two mediators are involved in each mediation session. Once an agreement is reached, it is written down by the mediators with the help of the parties who are present and who sign the completed written agreement.

Click here for how to arrange for mediation.

10G.1.1: How to arrange for mediation

The procedure for arranging mediation through a Community Justice Centre is informal and there is no need to go in person to arrange for mediation. Simply contact your local Community Justice Centre by phone on 1800 990 777,* fax, or email.

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.

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

10G.2: Alternative dispute resolution in health care complaints

Complaints to the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) about health care practitioners and/or health care providers can be referred for conciliation to the Health Conciliation Registry.

Conciliation is a confidential process that gives the people involved an opportunity to discuss the complaint and see if they can agree on how to resolve it in a way that is okay with everyone involved.

The types of complaints that the Commission assesses as suitable for conciliation are likely to meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • there was a breakdown in communication between the parties;
  • insufficient information was provided to the complainant;
  • an inadequate explanation was given for a poor outcome or adverse event;
  • the complainant is seeking an improvement in the quality of the particular health service;
  • the complainant is seeking a refund or financial compensation as an outcome.

It is totally within the discretion of the Health Care Complaints Commissioner whether a complaint is referred to the Health Conciliation Registry. However, if this seems an appropriate way for you to resolve your complaint or concern, you should ask for a conciliation in your complaint letter to the HCCC.

You could also contact the Registry on 02 9219 7474 or 1800 043 159 * before you write your complaint.

If you complain to the HCCC, your complaint could also be referred to a less formal form of alternative dispute resolution called ‘Assisted Resolution’ run by the HCCC’s Resolution Service.

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

*Remember, 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 Scheme. There is a cost involved in using this service. To find out more click here.

LEADR, the Association of Dispute Resolvers, also offers alternative dispute resolution services. Generally there is a cost involved in engaging a private mediator to help you resolve your dispute, but LEADR is a member of the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) NSW and, if your dispute is in the public interest, you may be able to access a LEADR mediator on a pro bono (free of charge) basis.

To find out more about LEADR, click here.

To find out more about PILCH NSW, click here.

Updated January 30, 2015