Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is designed to empower families to actively participate in the decision-making process around their child’s future care. This in turn is expected to lead to better informed and more responsive child protection decisions, and to build increasingly positive relationships between Community Services and families. There are four models of ADR that have been implemented across the NSW care jurisdiction:
- A new model of Dispute Resolution Conference.
- An external care and protection mediation pilot.
- A Family Group Conferencing pilot.
- Care Circles.
These models can be used at various stages in the care continuum, and are all designed to provide families with an opportunity to sit down with representatives from Community Services to discuss their child’s safety, welfare, and wellbeing in a safe and positive environment.
This collaborative decision-making process is expected to lead to agreements that are better accepted by the parties involved, and are therefore more likely to be implemented. Even if the parties are unable to reach an agreement on all the issues, there is an opportunity to narrow the issues in dispute and encourage open communication.
ADR continues to be incorporated into the NSW care and protection jurisdiction. Further details on ADR are available on the Lawlink website.