Victorian man and woman solve issue through mediation

This information relates to laws in Victoria, Australia.

The benefits of mediation

Mediation is a way of resolving disagreements without going to court. Mediation often resolves disputes early and quickly, without the cost and time involved in going to court. It is also often effective if you want to maintain ongoing relationships.

Many types of problems can be resolved through mediation, such as disputes between:

  • couples separating or divorcing
  • neighbours
  • family members
  • employers and employees.

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution. Other types of alternative dispute resolution include facilitation, conciliation and arbitration.

People can enter into mediation voluntarily, but in some cases it is compulsory. For example, some courts may require you to try to resolve your problem through mediation before your case can be heard in court. This is the case with family disputes relating to children, for instance.

Keep in mind that mediation won't be appropriate for all disputes. For example, if you have a dispute with a violent partner or ex-partner mediation won't be suitable.

If you're not sure that mediation is the best option for you, get legal advice or call Victoria Legal Aid helpline 1300 792 387.

How does mediation work?

In mediation, people in a dispute come together to discuss their issue and try to reach an agreement with the help of a mediator. Mediators are neutral. They help people come to their own agreement but they do not give legal advice, take sides or make a decision for them. They help to manage the discussion in a way that lets everyone’s views be heard.
A mediator cannot force the parties to accept a solution to their problem. The parties need to agree to the solution and it becomes binding on them if they enter into a contract. This is different from a decision made by a court, which can enforce the decision against both parties whether they agree with it or not. Mediation is generally confidential.

How do I find a mediator?

If you have not been able to solve a dispute by yourself, consider getting a mediator to help you.

A number of people work as mediators. They include private providers and members of the legal profession. Anyone can call themselves a mediator, but look for someone who is accredited or has legal training.

The Victorian government has a free dispute resolution service called the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria where mediators are available to help you resolve your dispute. The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria also has a lot of good ideas about how to reach agreements without going to court.

Free or low-cost mediation services

Family disputes

Victoria Legal Aid Family Dispute Resolution Service

This service is for for parents or other family members involved in a separation or divorce. It helps people try to reach an agreement about parenting, relationship and financial disputes without going to court.

The Victoria Legal Aid Family Dispute Resolution Service is free for eligible parties. But, you may have to pay for your lawyer’s fees if you are not eligible for legal assistance.

1300 792 387

FMC Mediation and Counselling Victoria

Offers low-cost family dispute resolution and mediation services for parenting, relationship and financial difficulties.

1800 639 523 (free call, including mobiles)

General disputes

Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria

Offers free and confidential mediation services to find solutions to problems that both parties agree with. The centre mediates a range of community and legal disputes, including neighbourhood disputes. It does not deal with domestic violence or family law disputes.

1300 372 888

Private mediation services

Law Institute of Victoria

Provides an online directory of legal practitioners who are accredited mediators. Mediators are listed according to areas of specialisation and region.

(03) 9607 9550

Victorian Bar

Provides a directory of barristers who are accredited mediators throughout Victoria.

(03) 9225 7111

Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators

A national organisation that specialises in family dispute resolution and mediation. It provides an online directory of accredited mediators in many states, including Victoria. The mediators are generally experienced family lawyers.

(07) 3117 0849

Everyday-Law recommends


A guide to help you manage and resolve disputes. It explains what Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is and the processes involved.

Published: 2014

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A factsheet about family dispute resolution, including how it works and the possible benefits. It also explains when it is not appropriate.

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Information about dispute resolution in family law cases at the Federal Circuit Court, including the services offered, what to expect and the costs involved.

Published: 2015

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Information on how to resolve a neighbourly dispute without going to court. It includes information about how the centre's free mediation service can help.

Published: 2015

This page was last updated on February 14, 2017