Important COVID-19 Update

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These are certainly challenging times for us all.

We are committed to doing everything we can to prioritise the wellbeing of our people, those who use our services and their representatives and the communities we serve to help contain the spread of COVID-19. We also want to reassure you that we continue to be fully operational and that we will continue to provide our full suite of dispute resolution services during this time.

Having well developed online dispute resolution options, this is in many ways business as usual for us as we focus on providing a seamless service, regardless of where our case management staff, mediators, arbitrators, and other dispute resolution practitioners are working.

We know you are working through similar challenges to ours and that these are uncertain times for everyone. From all of us here we send our thoughts to you, your teams and families.

We have developed a range of FAQs for FDR Mediation which cover the questions we are being asked most often – read them here. These have been updated to include guidelines for shared care under Alert Level 3. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance to you and we will keep you informed with any further updates.

The Family Justice Reform panel has released its second consultation paper which examines the 2014 family justice reforms. The panel’s research has shown that for those who have engaged in FDR, it can be a ‘quick, affordable and effective process’. They therefore want to promote a higher level of participation in FDR.

Proposals contained in the report include:

• FDR should be available at the most appropriate time for parents, caregivers and their whānau, whether or not an application to court has been made

• where an application to court has been made but FDR not undertaken, the matter be referred to FDR, unless good reasons are given not to (rebuttable presumption)

• a clear process is outlined in the rules for the court to make direct referrals, addressing timeframes and how outcomes are reported back to the court (while keeping the ability for parties to abandon proceedings, if appropriate).

The report also highlights the need for more to be done to empower Māori in the justice system and to enable whānau to resolve family disputes in a culturally safe and appropriate way.

Emphasis is also given by the panel on the importance of participation of children in the justice system. Our Voice of the Child service gives the opportunity for children to be heard and have their voice represented in the FDR process.

Read the report in full here

Find out more about our FDR process here