Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs | Mediation FAQs | Mediation Training FAQs | Statistical FAQs

General FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV)

What is the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria?

The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV) is a free, confidential dispute resolution service funded by the Victorian Government.  The DSCV provides dispute resolution advice, conflict coaching, mediation, and mediation training.

Using DSCV services to resolve your dispute is a cheaper and simpler alternative to taking civil disputes through the courts.

What types of dispute does DSCV deal with?

DSCV offer assistance for resolving a wide range of matters:

  • Common neighbourhood disputes involving fences, trees, animals, noise and drainage
  • Disputes about inappropriate behaviour
  • Interpersonal workplace disputes
  • Disputes within committees, clubs and incorporated associations
  • Civil disputes involving matters under $40,000 and other matters otherwise referred by the Magistrates' Court (depending on the court location)
  • Personal Safety Intervention Order matters referred by the Magistrates' Court
  • Interpersonal disputes involving technology such as Facebook
What types of dispute does DSCV not deal with?
  • Family Violence
  • Where a family law matter is before the Family Court or the Federal Magistrates' Court
  • Matters involving parenting arrangements
  • Matters involving ongoing violence and/or criminal charges
Who is a Dispute Assessment Officer?

A Dispute Assessment Officer (DAO) is a staff member of the DSCV who will manage your case from the time you first contact the centre to the conclusion of your matter.  DAOs are also trained, nationally accredited mediators.

What will a DAO do for me?

A DAO listens to your concerns and helps you to clarify your issues. The DAO will be able to suggest options, strategies and negotiation techniques, which may assist you in resolving your dispute. The DAO will also be able to refer you to a range of agencies that may be more appropriate for your matter.

If you would like to arrange a mediation session, a DAO can write to the other person/people involved in the dispute and invite them to mediation.

The DAO will then have a discussion with the other person and if that person accepts the invitation, the DAO will organise a mediation session at a time suitable for all parties. You will be given assistance to prepare for the mediation.

Not all disputes are suitable for mediation, so a DAO will ask you a number of questions to assist them in assessing the matter for suitability for mediation.

Is the DAO going to represent me and take my side?

No, a DAO is neutral in the matter and  assists all people involved equally. They are not there to represent you or to advocate on your behalf.

Will the DAO make a decision?

No, they will assist you to resolve your dispute. DAOs do not determine who is right or wrong and what the outcome of the matter should be.

Are my discussions with a DAO confidential?

Yes, both yours and the other person’s discussions are confidential. Issues that you raise will only be discussed with the other person if you agree. The Privacy & Data Protection Act 2014 binds the DSCV employees; all information provided to them will be managed in accordance with the information privacy principles pursuant to that Act.

Can a DAO obtain information about a person I am in dispute with on my behalf?

No, DAOs do not have any investigative or enforcement powers. If you would like the DSCV to invite someone to mediation, you will need to provide their details yourself.

Do DAOs conduct site inspections?

No, the DSCV does not provide any location/site assessment services.

Does the DAO call the person I am in dispute with to invite them to a mediation session?

No, the DAO will send a letter with the Department of Justice & Regulation letterhead requesting that the person call the DAO to discuss the issue further. You will need to provide the postal address to the DAO so the letter can be sent.

Can a DAO disclose another person's details?

No, both your details and those of the other person are confidential and cannot be disclosed unless consent is provided.

Will the DAO be the mediator if the matter proceeds to mediation?

DAOs are accredited mediators but it is not usual practice for the DAO to act as the mediator in your matter. The DAO's primary role is to prepare everyone for mediation and make all necessary arrangements for the mediation to take place.

Can the DAO give me legal advice?

No, DAOs can give you some advice about a range of topics. However, this is of a general nature only and should not be considered legal advice.  DAOs will be able to provide you with an appropriate referral to contacts for legal advice. You might also like to look in our Useful Links page.

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Mediation FAQs

Frequently asked questions about mediation:

What is mediation?
Mediation involves a meeting between people in dispute. An impartial, trained and nationally accredited mediator(s) conducts the mediation. The mediator helps parties discuss the issues, identify solutions and work towards a mutually acceptable agreement.
Is mediation a confidential process?

Yes, the mediation sessions are private. The Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 requires all staff and mediators at DSCV to keep all discussions confidential. Matters discussed in mediation cannot be used as evidence in court legal proceedings, unless all parties consent.

How long does mediation take?

Mediation usually takes 3-4 hours. It is important to ensure that you have set aside enough time for the mediation and make the necessary arrangments so that you are able to stay for the entire session.

Can a DAO force me or the other party to attend mediation?

No, mediation is voluntary. If someone does not wish to attend mediation, it is not possible to compel him or her to attend. The exception to this is for civil matters referred specifically by the Magistrates' Court, which provides for compulsory mediation.

Do I have to be in the same room as the other person?

Yes. Mediation with the DSCV involves people being in the same room and discussing issues in a controlled environment. People are expected to listen to each other, be respectful of one another and allow the mediators to guide the process.  During the mediation, both parties will be invited to have separate, private sessions with the mediators.

Can I bring a support person to the mediation?

Yes, you will need to advise the DAO prior to the mediation of the name of the person attending as a support person. The other person will need to agree to you bringing this person along as a support person.

The role of the support person is not to actively take part in the mediation but to support you during the mediation. The support person will not usually be allowed to speak during the mediation. Your Dispute Assessment officer will need to speak with support people to make sure that they are clear about their role.

Who attends the mediation?

All people involved in the dispute are encouraged to attend and participate in the mediation. However, it is a voluntary process, no one can be forced to attend and everyone must agree on who can attend before a mediation can proceed.

It is important that the people who are needed to make decisions about the outcome attend the mediation. It is possible for someone to attend with authority on the other person’s behalf but it will depend on the circumstances of the matter.

Where will the mediation be held?

Mediations are held at a range of convenient locations, as close to all parties as possible. These venues include DSCV offices and other approved venues that are suitable for mediation. The Dispute Assessment Officer managing your case will discuss the location and any accessibility needs you might have.

When will the mediation be held?

Mediations can usually be arranged within 2-3 weeks at a time suitable to all parties. Mediations are held during normal business hours and are scheduled for either a morning or afternoon session.

What will it cost?

There is no charge - mediation provided by DSCV is free.

What do the mediators actually do during the mediation?

Importantly, mediators remain neutral and do not take sides.

The mediators will: 

  • Control the process (parties control the content of what is covered)
  • Create an environment where parties have a chance to hear and listen to each other in a respectful manner
  • Help keep emotions in check
  • Guide parties through discussions about the issues
  • Make sure all relevant issues are covered
  • Help parties explore a variety of options
  • Provide time for privates sessions during the mediation
  • Help parties write down details of any agreement reached.
Do I need to get legal advice?

You will not normally require any legal advice or representation during the mediation session. Our DAOs will explain the mediation process in detail to prepare you for the session. You may be referred to an external organisation for some legal advice prior to the mediation if necessary. Sometimes parties choose to formalise agreements through their legal representatives after the mediation session.

Will the mediators make a decision?

No, the mediators will manage the process of the mediation and assist both parties to reach agreement. The mediators will not make a decision or give any sort of judgement about  the way in which  the dispute should be resolved.  The DSCV cannot enforce any agreements reached in mediation.

What are the mediators' qualifications?

All DSCV mediators are nationally accredited under the National Mediator Accreditation System. Mediators come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, which allows us to match mediator expertise with each mediation case.

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Mediation Training FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the DSCV mediation training program.

Why would I want to train to be a mediator?

There are many reasons why you might want to train as a mediator.

  • mediation is recognised as an effective way of resolving disputes and conflict
  • mediation has applications in the workplace, in business, at home, at school, and even in clubs and other organisations
  • mediation skills are life skills
What sort of people make good mediators?

People with the skills to make a good mediator are those who have:

  • excellent communication skills
  • well developed analytical skills
  • patience and ability to remain neutral and impartial
  • commitment to principles of empowerment

Being a mediator is not for everybody. It requires a great deal of concentration, ability to think ‘on your feet’ and constant attention to the parties throughout the session.

What will I learn from this course?

You will learn to:

  • recognise your own conflict resolution style
  • develop successful communication strategies
  • assist parties in their negotiations
  • minimise conflict within your organisation
  • conduct a mediation, in partnership with another mediator (co-mediation)
Specifically, you will learn about:
  • the concept of mediation as an alternative dispute resolution option
  • the nature of conflict and how conflict affects our daily activities
  • how to implement various negotiating techniques
  • various ethical issues that may present to the practising mediator
  • power imbalances in mediation – including how to identify possible difficulties for particular groups and how to implement strategies to combat possible power imbalances in the mediation process

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Statistical FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the cases DSCV deal with.

How many disputes does the DSCV deal with each year? What are the most common types of dispute that the DSCV deals with?

DSCV can help you resolve a range of common neighbourhood disputes such as fences, trees, difficult or anti-social behaviour, animals, noise and drainage. To help make information available to the community, you will find two files below with data on the volume and type of disputes DSCV deal with each year

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