Australia | Mediation professionals across Australia are likely to have a number of tiers of professional qualifications to pursue, under the new framework recently announced by the Mediator Standards Board (MSB).
The proposed changes have come from an in-depth review of the National Mediator Accreditation Standards (NMAS), throughout 2021 - 2023. This is the MSBs first indication of what the new framework is likely to look like.
While a statement released to MSB members last week included a note from MSB Chair, Christopher Boyle, that this framework “is an indicator only, and not authoritative”, it is an exciting insight into what the evolution of professional mediation will look like once it is finalised.
Boyle noted, “This significant update to the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS) aims to enhance the quality of mediation services and promote high standards across the country, as well as recognise diversity within the profession.”
While the current accreditation framework includes only one tier, the new framework, outlined in the Board’s recent Training and Assessment Summary, introduces a system that includes three levels of professional accreditation: Accredited Mediator, Advanced Mediator, and Leading Mediator. In addition, there will be a new “Specialist Practitioner” category of practice which will enable practice groupings such as conciliators and others to seek to become accredited and recognised under the Standards.
The original tier will continue to serve as the basic level of accreditation for Accredited Mediators with some adjustments. Accredited Mediators will require successful completion of a more comprehensive training course and subsequent independent assessment based upon a more structured and hopefully clearer pedagogical framework. The training course includes 45 hours of intensive training, with a balance between simulated mediations and practical application of mediation skills and conflict resolution theory. This accreditation level will focus on four core “professional domains” each subdivided into a number of attributes. These will comprehensively outline the Knowledge, Skills, Ethics and Responsibilities required of accredited practitioners. It will also require ongoing professional development, as is the case under the current system.
The Board believes this base tier provides formal recognition for those who successfully undertake training and assessment, and demonstrate the necessary knowledge, skills and responsibilities to deliver mediation services. It views this accreditation as essential for any professionals who may practice mediation as part of their role, even if they do not intend to practice primarily as mediators.
Under the new framework, two new tiers of recognition will be available to Accredited Mediators. This includes ‘Advanced Mediator’, which is open to mediators who maintain their Accredited Mediator qualification for at least two years and complete a minimum number of hours in practice and ongoing professional development each two-year cycle. Reflective practice is encouraged by a new ‘Practicum requirement’ as part of the eligibility requirements for Advanced Mediator standing. The highest level of accreditation, ‘Leading Mediator’ will be available to those with a minimum of six years' experience and 250 practice hours. Leading Mediators will also be required to provide mentoring, coaching, and related services to practitioners, to be eligible for Leading Mediator status.
The new Standards also include, for the first time, a separate “Certificate of Training” which is the assessment component of the initial training. It will be an option for those who complete mediation training to choose not to become assessed or accredited. This has been introduced to attract professionals who may participate in mediation, as a party, advocate or support, and will allow them to deeply understand the mediation process and the role of a mediator.
This update to the accreditation system reflects the MSB's commitment to the continued development and maintenance of a system that supports and ensures best practice and high standards for mediation professionals in Australia. It also reflects the findings of the recent NMAS review that reinforced the diversity of skills, experience and practices of professionals across the mediation and dispute resolution community in our country.
“As Mediation becomes a mature profession, it is important that the accreditation framework evolves to reflect the advanced skills of particular practitioners in the field. In the context of the two new accreditation levels, Advanced and Leading Mediators, we see there is opportunity to recognise the unique skills and specialised forms of mediation such as Family Dispute Resolution, Indigenous Peacemaking and workplace conciliation.” said Boyle.
The new provisions in the draft Standards relating to the Specialist Practitioner category will ensure a process or consultation with organisations and groups that might want to take up this opportunity.
It is expected that the MSB will release further and ongoing information as part of its staged response to the independent review of the NMAS Standards, and as it consults with its members and the broader dispute resolution community.
With over 4,090 accredited mediators across Australia and 39 Recognised Mediator Accreditation Bodies registered under the NMAS, the MSB plays a crucial role in supporting and promoting high standards within the mediation community. Membership with the MSB provides Alternative Dispute Resolution organisations such as law societies, mediation training organisations, government agencies and courts with the opportunity to contribute collectively to the ongoing development of quality ADR services across the country.
For more information about the Mediator Standards Board and the new accreditation framework, please visit msb.org.au.
About the Mediator Standards Board: The Mediator Standards Board was established in 2010 to support and promote high standards among mediators and enhance the quality of mediation services in Australia. The MSB oversees the development and maintenance of the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS), ensuring consistency, high quality, and public protection in mediation services and training across Australia.
End of Press Release
MSB Contact: Jenny Watson | Secretariat Mediator Standards Board | 03 9005 1903 | [email protected]
Release date: 25 Sep, 2023