Youth

A problem is a situation that calls for a change, a solution, an answer. There are many different types of problems and we all face and solve problems every day. Sometimes people can’t solve a problem on their own, especially if the problem involves other people.

If people disagree or can’t decide about a situation we sometimes call that a dispute. Disputes often include such things as choices, decisions, actions, goals and consequences. Disputes can be a friendly difference of opinion, a misunderstanding, or a really serious argument or fight about something.

No matter how small or serious a dispute is, it often helps to talk about it with someone who isn’t involved. Someone on the outside, who doesn’t have anything at stake, is not so close to the problem. Sometimes just doing that will help you find a solution. Sometimes you need to talk it through with the other person and work it out together.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a way to bring people together to talk about any problems. It is a step-by-step way to talk through issues and work things out.

Mediation can help you to:

  • put everything in perspective and decide what is most important to you;
  • look at a situation from different angles, which can help you find a solution;
  • get you talking with the other person involved;
  • make sure the other person understands your point of view and you understand theirs;
  • work something out together that everyone involved can live with.

Two mediators who have nothing to do with the argument will sit down with you and help you to talk about the problem and help you work out a way to fix the problem. They don’t make any decisions for you and they don’t take sides. They just help you to have a conversation in a particular way, to help you make decisions together about a situation.

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How do I decide if mediation is the best option?

Mediation works best when there is a particular disagreement or conflict that could be worked through and solved. It also helps if both sides are willing to talk it through together. It is also important that everyone feels safe to agree and disagree with each other.

Staff at CRS can talk with you about the issues and discuss whether mediation is the best option for you. They can discuss ways you can resolve things yourself, or provide you with information that might help.

For instance, if the issue is more about changing things about yourself, or if it is about your feelings and how you are coping with a situation, there might be other options like counselling that could work better.

The staff at CRS can help you decide and assist you to contact other services that might be able to help too. No matter what problem you have, please feel welcome to drop in or phone and speak to one of our staff about how we can assist you.

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Do I have to do mediation?

Mediation is voluntary, which means we only go ahead if you want to. It is up to you to choose and even if you say yes at first, you can change your mind later or decide to stop.

If someone is putting pressure on you to go to mediation or if you think you might get in trouble if you say no, talk to our staff about it. Our staff can work with you to make sure it is safe for you and will make sure the mediation doesn’t go ahead if you don’t want it to.

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Can I bring a friend or someone?

Yes, you can bring someone with you to mediation if you like. You can choose to have a friend or family member come with you or ask us to arrange someone like a school counsellor, youth worker or someone else you trust to be there for you. It is ok to have someone there just to listen in and help make sure you feel ok, or you can bring someone who can be part of the discussion with you and speak on your behalf. Usually the other person involved in the dispute will need to know who you are bringing with you. If you think that might be a problem, let the staff know and they will discuss how to work this out.

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Is mediation confidential?

Mediation is confidential, which means that the mediators and other staff at CRS won’t tell anyone else about what you have to say. Mediators and staff won’t tell your parents or teachers anything about your case unless you agree, and you can decide who you want involved. The things that are said or done in mediation also can’t be used in court. Because it is confidential, mediation can be a safe place to talk about tricky problems.

But! There is an exception to confidentiality. If there is significant risk of serious injury or harm to a party or another person, and disclosure of information is necessary to prevent that injury or harm occurring, the service may be required by law to inform other people.

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How do I get mediation?

Just call, email or visit our office and staff will talk with you about the problem you are having and help you decide whether mediation is the best option for you. Once you decide to go ahead, we will contact the other person involved and invite them to be part of a mediation with you. We make all the arrangements – all you have to do is turn up.

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Do I have to tell my parents?

There is no legal requirement per se to obtain parental consent in relation to any mediation. This means that the decision to inform parents or gain their permission is made on a case by case basis. We respect your wishes about who to tell and who to invite to mediation. We won’t tell your parents unless you agree that we can and if you don’t want to tell your parents, you don’t have to.

If mediation is arranged by your school and happens at the school and during school hours, the school can decide whether or not to tell your parents.

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Can I have mediation with my parents?

You can have mediation with one or both parents. If you want to have mediation with only one of your parents, usually only that parent needs to be informed about the mediation, unless there are agreements between your parents that say that both parents have to be informed of decisions about you. We look at these issues case by case. If we would be required to inform someone, we will talk to you about it before doing anything and let you decide what to do.

Services that help young people

Youth Law Centre ACT
Free legal and referral service for young people aged 12 to 25.

Migrant and Refugee Settlement Service
Can assist migrant and refugee youth with school studies.

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