Earlier this week, on Monday and Tuesday, I managed to set up appointments to talk to officers from two Family Relationship Centres (FRC) and tour their facilities in Melbourne. The key point of the visits were to get some overview of how the whole process of dispute resolution is actually implemented.
I generally found that there were some differences in the implementations of the process between centers. A lot of flexibility is given to the centers to manage and run their own program subject to the fact that the adhered to the basic principles of ensuring that the safety of the parties are protected. The basic need of screening for issues of violence before mediation is clearly provided for in the centers, but the details – including the forms used, the officers in charge, and the preliminary process before mediation can be quite different.
They also made sure that the facilities provides safety measures that will allow parties with history of violence feeling safe in the mediation session. This include having separate waiting lounge, separate mediation room, and to some extent, separate possible exits. One of the centers even provides a small playing area for parties that had to bring along their children for the mediation session.