How is mediation defined under the National Mediator Accreditation System?
The NMAS focuses on the training, assessing and accrediting of mediators, rather than on defining the mediation process.
However, in focusing on the knowledge, skills and ethical principles required for mediator accreditation, the NMAS Practice Standards describe mediation as a process that focuses on self-determination of the participants. This creates the opportunity for participants to:
Identify the issues in dispute
Discuss and better understand the issues
Design creative outcomes that meet their needs and objectives
This is often described in the marketplace as a facilitative mediation model, in which the mediator maximises the opportunity for the participants to control the content of the discussion and to design their own outcome. A mediator will manage a structured process in order to foster the self-determination of the parties.
NMAS accreditation is an essential entry-level qualification. NMAS accredited mediators may operate as facilitative mediators, or they might use the knowledge, skills and ethical principles outlined under the NMAS to work in a specialist subject area, or to diversify into other dispute resolution processes. The skills, knowledge and ethical principles under the NMAS are highly transferable.
A NMAS accredited mediator might, for example, provide another type of dispute resolution process or may even provide a blended process. It is important that they define this for participants and obtain informed consent to the process that they provide.
How do I become a nationally accredited mediator?
There are 4 key steps that you must take before you can refer to yourself as an accredited mediator under the NMAS. For more detail see infographic and flow chart.
Step 1: You need to complete a mediator training program that meets the training threshold requirements set out in the NMAS Approval Standards. You can find a list of organisations that provide training on our member list.
Step 2: Upon completion of your mediator training, you need to achieve a competent grading in an assessment conducted in accordance with the NMAS Approval Standards. This will involve you playing the role of mediator in a simulation of no less than 1.5 hours. Your training provider may offer an assessment component, or you can do your assessment through an alternative provider. You can find a list of organisations that provide an assessment at our member list.
Step 3: Once you have received notification of your successful assessment, you then need to apply to a Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body (RMAB) for NMAS accreditation. The training organisation responsible for your training and/or assessment might also be a RMAB. You can apply with them directly, or to any other RMAB.
Please note: Each RMAB will require you to:
Complete an application form
Attach any relevant documentation
Include character references
Confirm that you are covered by professional indemnity insurance*
Pay an application fee
* Membership with certain professional bodies may entitle you to access Professional Indemnity Insurance at a competitive rate (through that body). You can become a member of a professional body without being NMAS accredited. Make enquiries with the various RMABs to ascertain what they can offer you before making an application for accreditation.
Step 4: Once your application is approved, your RMAB will upload your details onto the National Register. You will then be able to promote yourself as a NMAS accredited mediator, and the public will be able to verify your accreditation by referring to the National Register.
Participants in a mediation that you facilitate will be able to make a complaint about you to your RMAB, with reference to the RMAB’s Complaints Handling Procedure.
You will remain on the National Register for a 2 year period.
How do I maintain my accreditation?
You need to renew you NMAS accreditation every 2 years. To maintain your accreditation you must meet renewal requirements for:
Good character; and,
Mediator Experience (25 hours); and,
Continued Professional Development requirements (25 hours).
You will receive an email from the Mediator Standards Board 2 months prior to the expiration of your accreditation. To receive this email reminder it is important that you contact your RMAB to update any changes to your email address.
Once you receive the email you must contact your RMAB. Your RMAB is responsible for administering your renewal. The requirements for renewal must be met within 2 months of the due date for renewal or accreditation automatically lapses.
To apply for your renewal, you will need to:
Complete the RMAB’s accreditation renewal form
Provide any relevant documentation to support the renewal application
Complete (if any) supplementary requirements requested by your RMAB
What if I have not met the 25 hour mediation requirement for renewal of my accreditation?
As part of renewing your NMAS accreditation, you must provide information/evidence that you have facilitated a minimum of 25 hours mediation work within a 2 year period.
You may be eligible to apply for an exception to a RMAB if you are unable to meet 25-hour requirement only in the following circumstances:
Where you have not met the 25-hour requirement due to a lack of work opportunity, health or career circumstances or residence in non-urban or CALD. If this is the case for you, you must be able to demonstrate that you have conducted at least 10 hours of mediation, co-mediation or conciliation within the 2 year period prior to renewal.
In addition, you must attend such supplementary training, coaching and/or assessment, as your RMAB considers necessary. You will also need to have completed the CPD requirements for renewal of accreditation (see CPD below).
If you are seeking renewal based on the limitations described above, you can only seek such renewal for three consecutive renewals.
A RMAB must be satisfied that you meet the requirements for renewal. The RMAB has discretion as to how they interpret and apply any requirement for supplementary training, coaching, and/or assessment.
If you seek an exception you must provide information and/or evidence as directed by your RMAB
What type of Continued Professional Development (CPD) can contribute towards the 25-hour requirement for renewal of accreditation?
CPD must contribute to the knowledge, skills and ethical principles set out in the Practice Standards.
For example, any professional development that you wish to include in your application for renewal of accreditation must relate to the process of the mediation or pre-mediation, or issues relating to termination, power, safety, procedural fairness, impartiality, ethical conduct, or confidentiality.
You can undertake CPD in various forms but note that there is a cap set on certain CPD formats. This is set out in Part II, Section 3.5.
You must be able to satisfy your RMAB regarding the relevance of the CPD. The RMAB must be satisfied that you have met the CPD requirement in order to maintain the integrity of the NMAS.
For example, if you are including CPD where the subject matter relates to the subject matter that you mediate in, you must be able to demonstrate that such CPD is required to maintain professional licensing or accreditation with regard to your mediation practice. See Part II, Section 3.5 (d).
Another example of relevant CPD relates to the knowledge that might assist in informing a mediator as to the skills they may employ during the process. For example - a course covering Behavioural Economics in Decision Making would be relevant, whereas a course in trust accounting would not be.
Your RMAB has the right to reject your application for renewal on the basis that they are not satisfied that you have met CPD requirements, or to request that you undergo further CPD in order to meet the requirements for renewal.
What should I do if my name does not appear on the National Register?
Your RMAB is responsible for adding your name to the National Register. If your RMAB has confirmed your accreditation and you still do not see your name on the Register, you will need to contact your RMAB directly.
What are the benefits of being a nationally accredited mediator?
When you become accredited under the NMAS, you are eligible to be listed on the National Register. This is the authoritative list of mediators who have met the training threshold and assessment requirements outlined in the Approval Standards (Link to Part II). Being listed as an accredited mediator signals to the public that, as well as meeting training and competency assessment, you have also demonstrated the necessary good character and professional indemnity insurance cover to mediate under the Standards.
NMAS accreditation demonstrates that you are part of a system that is concerned with consistency, credibility and quality, and with ensuring that participants are given the opportunity to engage mediation professionals who exhibit and uphold these values.
Increasingly, mediation participants and representatives are looking for a mediator with NMAS accreditation. Since the introduction of the NMAS in 2008, the uptake of training that meets the NMAS, and the engagement of NMAS accredited mediators, continue to rise.
As courts, tribunals, and industry groups seek to create or add to mediation panels, the majority of these require NMAS accreditation.
NMAS accredited mediators are able to hold themselves out as nationally accredited and are licensed to use the NMAS certification trademark during the period of their accreditation.
By virtue of their accreditation through a Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body (RMAB), NMAS accredited mediators have access to regular professional development opportunities that relate to the knowledge, skills and ethical principles necessary in maintaining accreditation.
What types of professionals and organisations are engaging with the NMAS (type of people becoming accredited, organisations requiring accreditation, etc.)?
Mediators come from various professional backgrounds. The skills, knowledge and ethical principles are highly transferable across varied subject matter and industries.
NMAS mediators currently come from professional backgrounds such as legal, social sciences, finance, human resources, medicine, teaching, marketing, business, corporate, government agencies, and not for profit organisations, from the police force, defence force, to court administration (to name just a few).
The list of examples of organisations and industries that require NMAS accreditation continues to grow. Included in this (non-exhaustive) list are:
Community Justice Centres
Australian Tax Office
Fair Work Commission
Various Fair Work Ombudsman services
Farm Debt Mediation
The Franchising Code of Conduct
Various State Health Care Commissions
Various State Workers and Accident Compensation Commissions
Various State Civil & Administrative Tribunals
Various Small Business Commissions
Dispute Resolution Associations
Small Business Commissioner
Chamber of Commerce
Not For Profit & NGOs
Why choose a nationally accredited mediator?
By choosing a NMAS accredited mediator, you are choosing a professional who has met the NMAS training and assessment requirements and is committed to maintaining their accreditation by meeting experience and professional development requirements.
The NMAS is concerned with consistency, credibility and quality, and with ensuring that participants are given the opportunity to engage mediation professionals who exhibit and uphold these values by implementing the skills, knowledge, and ethical principles articulated in the Standards.
Mediation participants can readily identify which of the Recognised Mediator Accreditation Bodies (RMABs) has accredited a mediator. Each RMAB has an established Complaints Handling Mechanism in order to receive and process complaints relating to any mediator accredited by them.
Accredited mediators must also have professional indemnity insurance and be subject to a complaints process for accountability.
What are the differences between being nationally accredited (NMAS) and being accredited as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP)?
FDRPs specialise in mediating family law matters and have the ability to sign required Section 60 I certificates under the Family Law Act (Cth) 1975. NMAS mediators do not have this ability.
The training and assessment requirements under each system are different.
NMAS training, assessment and accreditation are regulated by the Approval Standards. Training for NMAS is 38 hours and is usually conducted as a short course over a number of days.
FDRP registration falls under the remit of the Federal Attorney-General’s Department. Registration for FDRPs requires completion of a Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution or the satisfactory completion of the 6 core units of competency. This training can be undertaken face to face, online, or a blend of the two, and takes between 6 – 12 months to complete. FDRP training also requires 50 hours of supervised clinical placement to be completed.
You don’t have to have NMAS Accreditation to be registered as a FDRP, although many FDRPs have NMAS Accreditation. NMAS accreditation provides an entry point to FDRP training.
The majority of NMAS Accredited Mediators are not FDRPs.
Can I become accredited under the NMAS if I have trained overseas?
The NMAS outlines the training threshold and assessment requirements for accreditation. The Approval Standards establishes the requirements for hours, trainer experience, and content. The Practice Standards describe the knowledge, skills and ethical principles that must be covered in both training and assessment.
It is possible, if you have undertaken training overseas, that your RMAB recognise this in whole or in part under the NMAS. The RMAB will need to assess your overseas course against the NMAS requirements. You will need to approach a RMAB and provide any evidence that they request.
A RMAB must be satisfied that the course you have undertaken meets the NMAS requirements in whole or in part. The RMAB will inform you of any components of your training that are recognised by them under the NMAS, and any additional training or assessment that you need to complete.
It is likely that you will at least need to complete an assessment that meets the criteria set out in Part II, Section 2.4 of the Approval Standards.
If the overseas training does not meet the threshold training requirements established by the NMAS you will need to attend another course.
How do I choose a Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body?
Under the NMAS there are a number of Recognised Mediator Accreditation Bodies (RMABs). You are welcome to choose a RMAB that best suits your mediation work and/or professional development needs.
Most RMABs are open to receiving applications from mediators, while others are established for the sole purpose of accrediting and supporting mediators that work within their organisation.
All RMABs are required to meet benchmark criteria in order to accredit mediators under NMAS. In this respect, they are all the same. Some will suit your purpose better than others, and you should ask questions of your RMAB to ensure that they meet your needs. For example, you may wish to choose a RMAB that is affiliated with your professional background (i.e. a Law Society for Lawyer/Mediators), or you might choose a RMAB based on the selection and mode of professional development they offer.
To be a RMAB the following criteria must be demonstrated:
Financial membership of the Mediator Standards Board
Capacity and expertise to assess whether training, education, assessment and CPD undertaken by applicants for accreditation or renewal of accreditation meet the respective requirements specified in the Approval Standards
The ability to provide or refer members to CPD activities as outlined in Section 3.5 of the Approval Standards
A complaints handling system that meets Benchmarks for Industry-based Customer Dispute Resolution Schemes, or the ability to refer a complaint to a scheme that has been established by statute
Sound governance structures, financial viability and appropriate administrative resources
Sound record-keeping in respect of mediators accredited under the NMAS
At least 10 mediators accredited under the NMAS who are bona fide members, panellists or employees.
How do I find a training organisation that provides training that meets the NMAS?
You can find a full list of MSB members here. This list identifies those members that provide training and/or assessment that meet Steps 1 and 2 of the accreditation process.
To comply with NMAS the mediation training program:
Is at least 38 hours in duration
Is conducted as one single course or as modules spread over a period of up to 24 months
Includes participation in at least 9 simulated mediations (role plays), in which you perform the role of mediator in at least 3 of the simulated mediations (role plays)
Provides a different coach and written feedback to each individual when they perform the role of mediator in at least 2 of their 3 simulated mediations (role plays)
Has a training team of at least 2 trainers, and enough coaches for each individual to be observed in the role of mediator in 2 simulated mediations (role plays)
Has a training team and coaches who are all NMAS accredited with the requisite number of years’ experience (or number of mediations) as a NMAS accredited mediator (NMAS Approval Standards, Part II, Section 2.3 (b) and (d)
Covers all of the knowledge, skills and ethical principles articulated in the NMAS Practice Standards (Part III)
Note – If a training organisation does not provide assessment you should contact them to inquire as to whether they have an arrangement in place with an MSB member that does.
If a training organisation does not appear on the MSB member list you will need to exercise due diligence. We encourage you to contact the training provider to confirm that their program is designed to meet the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS), with reference to the above criteria.
How long do I have between being assessed and applying for accreditation under the NMAS?
Current practice across RMABs demonstrates a reasonable timeframe of no more than 6 months between assessment and application for accreditation.
If more than 6 months has passed since your assessment, an RMAB might request that you undertake another assessment. The RMAB might also consider you need to do top-up training depending on the length of time that has passed.
What can a RMAB do when I have not met the minimum hours (of mediation and/or CPD) for re-accreditation?
A RMAB must be satisfied with the currency of a mediator’s knowledge, skills and ethical principles, as well as their competency in facilitating a mediation process.
In situations where you have not met the renewal requirements but would like to maintain your accreditation, a RMAB is likely to require any one or combination of the following:
That you undertake an assessment that meets Section II, Part 2.4 of the Approval Standards.
That you attend refresher training or training that addresses particular skills, knowledge and ethical principles as defined in the Practice Standards
That you attend mediator practice sessions
In situations where you have fallen far short of meeting the requirements for renewal and/or do not meet the requirements for an exception under Part II Section 3.3 of the Approval Standards, you will need to begin the accreditation process under Part II of Approval Standards again.
Please note – The MSB database tracks the rejection of a renewal application, in order to avoid a situation in which mediators “shop around” until a RMAB accepts them.
On what basis might an RMAB approve/reject CPD for re-accreditation?
Any RMAB must be satisfied in relation to a mediator’s current knowledge, skills and ethical principles, as well as their competency in facilitating a mediation process.
It is a requirement for renewal of accreditation that a NMAS accredited mediator has attended a minimum of 25 hours of relevant continued professional development (CPD) within a 2-year period.
For CPD to be relevant, it must contribute to the knowledge, skills and ethical principles set out in the Practice Standards.
CPD might be undertaken in various forms, with a cap set on certain CPD formats. This is set out in Part II, Section 3.5.
For more detail see FAQ “What type of Continued Professional Development (CPD) can contribute towards the 25 hour requirement for renewal of accreditation?”
Your RMAB has the right to reject your application for renewal on the basis that you have not met CPD requirements, or to request that you undergo further CPD in order to meet the requirements for renewal.
Reasons for rejection of CPD might include:
Inadequate record keeping in order to validate attendance at CPD programs
Reliance on CPD that does not relate to the knowledge, skills and ethical principles outlined in the Practice Standards
Reliance on CPD that relates to another profession or industry where it can not be shown that such CPD is required in order to maintain professional licensing or accreditation with regard to your mediation practice. See Part II, Section 3.5 (d) (link).
Reliance on CPD that exceeds the cap for a particular form of CPD.
Please note – The MSB database tracks the rejection of a renewal application, in order to avoid a situation in which mediators “shop around” until a RMAB accepts them.
What type of insurance is required to be an accredited mediator?
Before applying for accreditation with a RMAB you must ensure that you are covered by relevant professional indemnity insurance.
Some mediators might already be covered if they are employed by an organisation that provides a mediation service. Other mediators might be covered by existing insurance that relates to another professional area.
It is very important that you check whether you are covered by one of the above situations and that the coverage adequately addresses your work as a mediator.
If you do not have current relevant professional indemnity insurance, you will need to arrange this before you apply for accreditation or for renewal of your existing accreditation.
Some RMABs are also membership organisations and offer their members access to professional indemnity insurance at a discounted rate. If that is the case, you might become a member of an organisation, access their reduced insurance rate as part of your membership, and then apply through them (or through another RMAB) for accreditation.
Please make enquiries with the various member organisations/RMABs for further information.
If you are a consumer, it is valuable to note that in choosing a nationally accredited mediator, you are engaging the services of a mediator with current professional indemnity insurance. To confirm that your mediator is NMAS accredited, search for your mediator on the National Register.
The Standards refer to 24 month and 6 month requirements. What do these mean?
The first two steps in the accreditation process require attendance at a mediation course that meets the training threshold requirements set out in the NMAS Approval Standards and successful completion of an assessment conducted in accordance with the NMAS Approval Standards.
The Standards require that a mediation course be completed within a 24 month period.
Once you have completed the above steps, you need to apply to a Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body (RMAB) within 6 months of receiving the outcome of your assessment. This is to ensure that the knowledge, skills and ethical principles acquired during your training remain current.
What can I include in the 25 hours of mediation work required for renewal of accreditation?
The accreditation period under the NMAS is 24 months. In order to renew your accreditation for a further period you are required to demonstrate to your RMAB that you have undertaken at least 25 hours of mediation work (see 3.2).
This requires work as a mediator, co-mediator, or conciliator, or work that uses the skills, knowledge and ethical principles set out in the NMAS. Examples of this might include work as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) or restorative practitioner.
This 25 hour requirement does not include work as a representative/adviser or observer within a dispute resolution process. Such work cannot be relied upon in any application for renewal.
It should be noted that the NMAS includes a section on intake/preliminary meetings and that the time you spend on intake/preliminary meetings can therefore be included in the 25 hour requirement in your application for renewal.
A note on Section 3.3:
Section 3.3 of the NMAS provides that a mediator who has not met the 25 hour requirement due to lack of work opportunities, health or career circumstances or residence in non-urban or CALD communities, must have conducted at least 10 hours of mediation, co-mediation or conciliation and must attend such supplementary training, coaching and/or assessment as the RMAB considers necessary, in addition to the CPD required in Section 3.5.
In such circumstances you will work with your RMAB to identify suitable options. One such option (there are many) involves participation in mediation role plays as the mediator.
If this option is being exercised, please note that role play experience cannot be relied upon for the minimum 10 hours required (if Section 3.3 is applicable) and is intended only to provide a supplementary option for meeting renewal requirements. Please also note that Section 3.3 is not intended to be relied upon on an ongoing basis.
I am an experienced Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP). How do I become NMAS accredited?
You will need to work with a Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body (RMAB) to ascertain whether you meet the requirements for accreditation under 2.5 (b) or 2.5 (c) of the Approval Standards. These sections refer to recognition of comparable prior education and experience.
In addition, an RMAB will require you to undertake an assessment in accordance with Section 2.4 of the Approval Standards.
Please note that if you are working as an FDRP for an organisation, this assessment cannot be undertaken in the workplace by a supervisor or colleague. This scenario would not meet the requirements of 2.4 (c).
Instead, your RMAB will work with you to provide an opportunity for assessment that does meet requirements.
Can I be accredited by more than one RMAB?
No. You can only apply for accreditation and seek re-accreditation through one RMAB. Only one RMAB can collect an accreditation fee from you and upload you onto the National Register of NMAS accredited mediators.
You can, however, change RMABs if you choose to do so.
Another RMAB might list you on their dispute resolution panel/s, as a member of their organisation, or as an employee. Nothing in the NMAS prevents this. They cannot, however, list you on the National Register or collect an accreditation fee from you. Only the accrediting RMAB can do these things.
A note for RMABs – An RMAB might inform the MSB that a mediator accredited through another RMAB is listed as a bonafide member, panellist or employee in order to meet the criteria for being an RMAB (Part IV, 1.7 of the NMAS). The RMAB cannot, however, list the accredited mediator on the National Register or collect an accreditation fee from the accredited mediator. Part IV of the NMAS outlines RMAB qualifications and responsibilities.
How much insurance cover does an accredited Mediator need?
No minimum amount is required by the Standards; however, the sum should be adequate for the type of work that Mediators perform.
Most insurance companies recommend a minimum cover of $20 million. Some RMABs offer their members access to cover through a preferred insurer or insurers, the details of which can be sought from a Mediator's RMAB.
How do I obtain work as a Mediator after accreditation?
There are several ways that people and organisations initially seek out and contact a NMAS accredited mediator, including the following:
Word of mouth recommendations
Creating a small panel for internal use over time (or by seeking expressions of interest from NMAS accredited mediators)
Looking at the MSB website and specifically at our member organisation list. A number of these organisations provide a case management service in which they will appoint or suggest a shortlist of mediators based on the type of conflict that requires mediation. Some of these case management services will involve a fee. Examples of organisations that might be helpful in this regards include Community Justice Centres, Law Societies, Bar Associations, and larger mediation associations.
Some find that use of a platform like LinkedIn works well, as you can refine your search to be relevant to the type of dispute, accreditation status, and location
A number of industries have created specific panels of mediators for that industry
However, you come across a mediator, the MSB recommends that you search the National Register at INSERT LINK to confirm that the mediator has current NMAS accreditation. This provides reassurance that your mediator has been trained and assessed to the national standard, holds current professional indemnity insurance, maintains a threshold of experience and professional development, and importantly - has an independent complaints handling mechanism.
There are almost 4000 NMAS accredited mediators across Australia, based in each of the States and Territories.
Upon contacting a mediator you will be able to obtain information about their fee structure. Some mediators charge an hourly rate, while others provide half or full day rates. Charges will also cover any preparation work or pre-mediation meetings with those involved. Rates vary depending on the area/industry a mediator works in, their experience, and whether or not they provide discounted rates.
It is common for a mediator to provide each person/group involved with a contract covering the terms of engagement. This will cover areas such as the role of the mediator, confidentiality, authority of those participating to negotiate and make decisions for themselves, and fees.
There are a number of Commonwealth organisations that either employ mediators internally, or create a panel to refer work to. Some of these you will find on our website as they are also members (for example, the Fair Work Commission and Stated-Based Small Business Commissions). A number of other organisations who are not members but employ or engage NMAS accredited practitioners include the Human Rights Commission, State-Based Personal Injury Commissions and Healthcare Complaints Commissions, various Ombudsman services and courts.