We will assess your need and if our service can help. If our services aren’t appropriate for your situation, we will refer you to a more appropriate service.

Our staff do not impose their personal values, views and preferences when assessing if our services are suitable.

Mediation generally requires everyone involved in the dispute to meet face-to-face to discuss their concerns and negotiate an agreement. 

If you are under 18 you must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian to attend mediation and you may need a support person to attend with you.

A support person can be a family member, a friend, a disability advocate, a lawyer or another professional person. We will assess if the chosen support person is suitable and will not escalate the conflict.

When making these decisions we consider the following factors:


Existence of a dispute between people who have ongoing contact with each other

Generally, we need to be satisfied that a dispute exists between two or more people who have ongoing contact with each other before we can intervene and offer mediation.

If there has only been a single incident and those involved have little impact on each other's daily lives, we may explore other self-help approaches and options.


Genuine desire by all involved to resolve their dispute

Before proceeding, we will discuss the mediation process with each person involved to confirm they want to meet and find a solution. If not, we would explore other more suitable options and services with you.


Capacity to understand and participate in mediation

Mediation is not suitable if anyone involved has difficulty understanding the mediation process or remembering the outcome of discussions.

In helping decide if mediation would be suitable for everyone involved we will assess each person's:

  • ability to communicate
  • ability to deal with emotion
  • level of anxiety
  • overall health and functioning capacity, including mental health.

There may also be language difficulties that need to be considered. If there is, we will arrange for an interpreter to attend the mediation.


Connection to the state of Victoria

We are a Victorian government service for residents of Victoria or those with a relevant connection to Victoria.


Risk of harm

We will consider the level of fear expressed by those involved in the dispute and the impact this fear has on their ability to speak openly and make decisions.

We will also assess risk factors such as:

  • domestic or family violence
  • child abuse or child abduction
  • self-harm and harm to others
  • a history of anti-social, violent or controlling behaviour
  • the duration of the dispute
  • the types of behaviour involved
  • how deep the conflict is.

If there is a strong possibility mediation will increase the likelihood of negative behaviour from either person, we will explore other more suitable options. For example, it would not be suitable to organise mediation when one person is committing pursuit-type stalking against the other.


An existing or application for an intervention order

Police involvement may indicate the matter isn't suitable for mediation.

If the police have applied for a personal safety intervention order (PSIO) on behalf of someone against another person involved in the dispute and it does not permit mediation, we will refer you to other services for independent legal advice.


Power imbalance between those involved in the dispute

Mediation is productive when the discussions are fair and balanced and there is no fear of harm, intimidation, or risk of exploitation by one person over the other.

For example, mediation may not be suitable when a person with a disability is totally dependent on the person they are in dispute with and are unable to negotiate fairly without fear.


Previous attempts to mediate

If you have previously attended a mediation with those involved in the dispute and you weren't able to reach a resolution or stick to the agreement, before proceeding we will assess if there are new circumstances or issues and those involved:

  • are open to negotiating in good faith
  • have stuck to past agreements
  • have reconsidered their position
  • have the capacity to understand and participate in the mediation process.

Mediation on behalf of VCAT and the courts

DSCV has some specific arrangements with VCAT and the Magistrates' Court which have specific criteria not covered in these guidelines.

Any other matter we consider relevant

Disputes we can assist with

When you speak to us we will decide which services are suitable. For example, advice and information, mediation and other forms of negotiation or referral to another service and what supports may need to be put in place for this to occur.


Common neighbourhood disputes

DSCV has temporarily closed its general service, including advice and mediation on neighbourhood disputes to focus on assisting renters and rental providers to resolve disputes listed for consideration by VCAT

Disputes between one or more sets of neighbours over issues such as:

  • trees
  • fences
  • drainage
  • privacy
  • behaviour
  • pets
  • noise.

Further information


Inter-family disputes

DSCV has temporarily closed its general service, including advice and mediation on neighbourhood disputes to focus on assisting renters and rental providers to resolve disputes listed for consideration by VCAT

Disputes between siblings and extended family over matters such as:

  • intergenerational conflict
  • elderly care arrangements
  • funeral and burial arrangements
  • wills and estates
  • powers of attorney.

Our services may be unsuitable if your dispute involves:

  • an application for a Family Violence Intervention order
  • a matter in the Family Court or Federal Magistrates Court
  • parental arrangements
  • someone who doesn't have the capacity to provide instructions.

Further information


Interpersonal conflict

DSCV has temporarily closed its general service, including advice and mediation on neighbourhood disputes to focus on assisting renters and rental providers to resolve disputes listed for consideration by VCAT

Interpersonal conflict between:

  • people in the same social circle, such as friends
  • members of the same social group, hobby or sporting pursuits
  • people attending schools who have not been able to resolve the issue through the school
  • community groups.

Further information


Incorporated associations

Internal club or association conflicts between:

  • individual members
  • committee members
  • different clubs.

Further information


Owners' corporation and retirement villages

Issues and complaints relating to the use of common property in an owners's corporate, including:

  • disputes with neighbours
  • behavioural issues between members of an owners' corporation.

Your dispute may be subject to your owners' corporation internal dispute resolution process, which you must follow before you contact us.

This may include:

  • complaints about the management process of an owners' corporation
  • complaints regarding fees
  • members complaints against the manager
  • how meetings are organised, minutes and communicated

Further information


Small business and consumer disputes

Disputes between individuals and businesses, or business to business owners, often referred to us by the Magistrates Court of Victoria or VCAT:

  • monies owed
  • contracting and sub-contracting arrangements
  • quality of goods and services.

Further information


Tenancy related issues

Disputes in a share house between tenants, including lead tenants and subtenants over:

  • outstanding bills
  • damage to the property
  • end of lease issues.

Further information


Workplace related disputes

Communication and teamwork problems between co-workers, team members and management. Before contacting us, you should first check what internal dispute resolution processes are in place at your workplace.

Further information

Barriers for mediation

Before we offer services we need to establish if a mediation is considered:

  • a suitable process for everyone involved in the dispute
  • suitable but only if it is conducted with special conditions, and everyone involved agrees to and cooperates with the special conditions
  • a safe process for everyone involved.

Strategies to support participation at mediation

When a mediation is only suitable if special conditions are in place we will consider if either of the following strategies can support everyone involved in the dispute to participate:

Support person

We will explore if a support person may help overcome a power imbalance or assist a vulnerable person to participate fully in mediation. For example, someone with a cognitive disability may have difficulty understanding the mediation process and could participate if a support person or advocate assisted them.

Interpreter support at mediation

We will arrange for a qualified independent interpreter, if anyone involved in the dispute needs a translator.