Friday, August 25, 2006

Australia to establish national system of mediator accreditation

Australia launches mediator accreditation programAccording to the most recent edition (in PDF) of the Bond University Dispute Resolution Centre newsletter, Australia has taken a major step forward toward establishment of a national system of mediator accreditation as the result of the system's endorsement by delegates at Australia's National Mediation Conference in May 2006.

The system, which at this time features but one level of mediator accreditation and for general practice only, would ultimately result in a national register of accredited mediators. The system may be adapted later on to create accreditation for specializations within mediation practice, such as family, workplace, and personal injury, as well as advanced practitioner levels. Participation by mediators in this system would be voluntary and not compulsory.

Further information about Australia's National Accreditation Standards for Mediators may be found at the National Mediation Conference web site. The final draft of the report to the Conference is available for downloading in Word format.

Unfortunately here in the U.S., momentum has stalled on the mediation certification project which the Association for Conflict Resolution undertook in conjunction with the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution. The two groups worked together to establish a Mediator Certification Task Force which recommended the creation of a Mediator Certification Program, and in early 2005 a Mediator Certification Feasibility Study (PDF) was conducted to invite input from stakeholders.

The word on the street now is that the ACR has quietly decided to leave this project on hold and commit its resources elsewhere, leaving many mediators feeling frustrated and angry that a project launched with so much fanfare has now been placed on standby.

It's disappointing that while Australia moves forward into the future with national accreditation for mediators, we continue to lag behind here. But in the meantime we can watch and learn from Australia's experience as the mediation community down under prepares for the system's official launch.