Consent Form

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For the purposes of this Consent Form, all processes utilised by the Conflict Resolution Service (CRS) are part of an assisted settlement process conducted in accordance with the National Mediator Accreditation Standards and the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008.

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) obliges the CRS to conduct Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) in a specific manner. Prior to commencing Family Dispute Resolution it is necessary for a client to enter into an agreement with CRS regarding the confidentiality, privacy and privilege of the information that the client may disclose during the family dispute resolution processes.

  • 1. 1. FDR Confidentiality

    Family Dispute Resolution is a confidential process and CRS will keep confidential everything said during all communications with me and all other parties during each stage. The Family Law Act 1975 places professional obligations on CRS staff and mediators, as Family Dispute Practitioners, to disclose certain communications in accordance with Commonwealth or State/Territory laws. There are essentially three exceptions to keeping confidentiality:

    a. The first exception is when the staff and or mediators must disclose a communication which relates to actual or the potential for child abuse or kidnapping. This obligation is aimed at protecting a child from the risk of harm, whether it is physical or psychological.

    b. The second exception where this obligation exists is where CRS may disclose a communication if CRS believes it is necessary for preventing, reporting or lessening:

    • A threat to the life or health of any person
    • Violence or a threat of violence
    • A threat of damage to someone’s property

    In the above two circumstances, the agencies to which CRS would consider reporting might include but are not limited to, the AFP, Child and Youth Protection Services, Youth Justice, Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team (for crisis mental health assistance).

    CRS endeavours to discuss its requirements to report to another agency with me or the other party/ies concerned in the first instance. However, CRS’s decision to fulfil its legal obligations to report in the above circumstances will not be based on whether the party/ies give permission.

    c. The third circumstance in which CRS may disclose a communication is where consent is given by the party/ies (and if the client is under 18, with the consent of both parents or a court). The instances where consent must be given prior to disclosure include the following:

    • Assisting a lawyer representing a child’s interests under a court order;
    • In certain circumstances, to provide information for research relevant to families;
    • In arranging Child Inclusive Practice;
    • When CRS requests permission to disclose information which may assist the mediation process at any stage.
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    2. CRS Disclosure

    As with Confidentiality, CRS will not disclose the details of discussions with me or anyone else who may have a stake in the dispute, without my permission. I understand, however, that CRS reserves the right to update each stakeholder to the dispute on ‘process’ timelines and individual engagement with the process.

    For example, if my child’s other parent requests an update about whether I have attended an interview at CRS, suggested dates for mediation, or in the event that there there are delays in moving the process forward, reasons for these delays, etc., CRS considers these issues of a process nature and will discuss these with the other party. However, I understand that under no circumstances will CRS provide the date and time of my interview to anyone else, and likewise CRS will not be able to provide me with details of any other party’s interview details.

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    3. Privilege of Information

    Information communicated to CRS is privileged under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) with the exceptions already stated. Anything said, or an admission made, at Family Dispute Resolution cannot be admitted as evidence by any party in any future court or other legal proceedings, unless required by law. Accordingly, I will not involve the mediators, staff or officers of CRS as witnesses in any legal proceedings. This does not apply where there has been child abuse or there is a risk of child abuse.

    Privilege also extends to materials and anything said as part of the CRS-Marymead Child Inclusive Practice process so these cannot be used in any future court or other legal proceedings.

    I understand and agree to the confidentiality and privilege provisions of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) 10J and H.

    I agree not to make any audio or visual recordings during my contact with the CRS during any part of the process. I agree that any notes I take are for my own use to remind me of discussions, and that these notes will not be used in any legal or similar proceedings as evidence.

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    4. FDRP Qualifications

    I understand that, where required, CRS Staff and Mediators are qualified as Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners in accordance with the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and are registered with the Attorney General’s Department. In addition, CRS Mediators are accredited under the National Mediator Accreditation Standards.

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    4. FDRP Qualifications

    I understand that, where required, CRS Staff and Mediators are qualified as Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners in accordance with the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and are registered with the Attorney General’s Department. In addition, CRS Mediators are accredited under the National Mediator Accreditation Standards.

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    5. Role of CRS Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners

    I am aware that CRS staff and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRP) may provide me with certain information in accordance with the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), but they will not advise me or tell me what to agree to, and will not make any judgements or recommendations about the merit of respective positions and points of view. In particular, I understand that it is not the role of CRS staff and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners to provide me with legal advice or make an assessment of who is right or wrong in the dispute

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    6. Child Focused Family Dispute Resolution

    I am aware that in accordance with the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), CRS is obliged to conduct ‘child focused’ family dispute resolution, in which the focus is on the child’s needs, and where parents are encouraged to form a ‘parental alliance’ to jointly agree to and implement appropriate shared parenting arrangements. I understand that the goals of child-focused dispute resolution are to:

    • Create an environment that supports disputing parents in actively considering the unique needs of each of their children;
    • Facilitate a parenting agreement that preserves significant relationships and supports children’s psychological adjustment to the separation, including recovery from parental acrimony and protection from further conflict;
    • Support parents to leave the dispute resolution forum on higher rather than diminished grounds with respect to their post-separation parenting;
    • and Ensure that the ongoing mediation/litigation process and the agreements or decisions reached reflect the basic psycho-developmental needs of each child, to the extent that they can be known without the involvement of the children.

    I am aware that I could consider entering into shared parenting arrangements for my child/children by using a Parenting Plan and that decisions made in developing such a plan should be made in the ‘best interests of the child’.

    I understand that the ‘best interests of the child’ is a legal test for deciding matters relating to children where the primary considerations are that children benefit from having a meaningful relationship with both of their parents. However, there is a need to protect children from physical or psychological harm and from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence. The need for protection of a child is elevated and is the predominant primary consideration.

    I further understand that unless there are reasonable grounds to believe that a parent has engaged in abuse of the child or family violence there is a rebuttable presumption that it is in the best interests of the child for parents to have equal shared parental responsibility for them.

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    7. Agreements

    Before any agreement made by me at any mediation becomes legally enforceable, I agree that it will be subject to any legal advice and confirmation that I may receive.

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    8. Section 60I(8) Certificates

    I understand that if I want to apply for a court order, CRS may provide me with a certificate under subsection 60I(8) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). The certificate options can show that either:

    • One party failed to attend, or
    • The FDRP decided the case was not appropriate for family dispute resolution, or
    • All parties attended and made a genuine effort but were unable to resolve the dispute, or
    • One or both parties did not make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute, or
    • The family dispute resolution started but part way through the FDRP decided that it was inappropriate to continue.

    I understand that if I was to apply to a court for orders, if a 60I(8) certificate is filed the court may take the certificate into account when considering whether to refer me to family counselling, family dispute resolution or some other family services, or to award costs against me or another party.

    I understand that I do not need to attend family dispute resolution before making an application to the court in certain circumstances; this includes where there has been family violence, child abuse or a risk of family violence or child abuse.

    I am aware that where there has been family violence, child abuse or a risk of family violence or child abuse the court expects and must be satisfied that I have received information about the services and option available to me in these circumstances

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    9. CRS Decision Making

    I understand that at any time the CRS may choose to

    • Withdraw from offering services to either myself or the other party/ies;
    • Postpone or cancel any stage of the FDR process.

    CRS will discuss the reasons as to why these decisions may be made by the service and may include:

    • Health and wellbeing of any party;
    • Additional information being required by party/ies;
    • Party/ies status in relation to the above requirements of Voluntary, Own Decisions and Good Faith has/have changed; or
    • Party/ies appearing unable or unwilling to focus on the ‘best interests of the child’ (see Child Focused Family Dispute Resolution).
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    10. Voluntary Process

    I have chosen to engage with CRS on a voluntary basis. I am free to discontinue contact with CRS at any time that I wish.

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    11. Own Decisions

    I am able to make decisions for myself and can choose to agree or disagree to any proposals discussed during the family dispute resolution process. Should this change for me at any time, I agree to inform CRS.

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    12. Good Faith

    I am entering into this dispute resolution process in good faith with a genuine desire to discuss, negotiate and find resolution to the dispute. Should this change for me at any time, I agree to inform CRS.

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    13. Service Charter

    CRS staff and mediators will treat me with respect at all times and will fulfil their professional responsibilities to ensure that my needs are met to the best of their capabilities. Equally, I will also treat CRS staff and mediators with respect at all times and demonstrate this through my respectful communication and action when I come into contact with CRS staff and mediators

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    14. Feedback

    CRS is committed to providing the best possible services for those who engage with the process of FDR and therefore welcomes and encourages my feedback on any aspect of my interaction with CRS. Should I have concerns about the services I have received, I am able to verbally or in writing, feed these back to CRS. I understand that CRS will provide additional information on the complaints process including outcomes of any review required and possible remedies for the situation

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    15. Access to CRS Information

    CRS will make available for me any documents related to this Consent Form such as National Mediator Accreditation Standards, CRS Service Charter, CRS Feedback/Complaints Mechanism, all of which are also available at www.crs.org.au.

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    16. Fees for Family Dispute Resolution Services

    I understand fees are payable 48 hours before a mediation session or pre mediation interview takes place. If payment is not received the scheduled session will be cancelled.

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    17. I agree I have read, or had read to me, and understood the contents of this form

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