What is the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria?
The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV) is a free, voluntary and confidential dispute resolution service funded by the Victorian Government. The DSCV provides dispute resolution advice, conflict coaching, mediation, and mediation training.
What types of disputes do we 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, including bullying, harassment and abuse
- Interpersonal workplace disputes
- Disputes within committees, clubs and incorporated associations
- Personal Safety Intervention Order matters referred by the Magistrates' Court
- Interpersonal disputes involving technology such as Facebook
- Suitable goods and service disputes (between $500 and $10,000) lodged at the Victorian Civil Administration Tribunal (VCAT).
What types of disputes do we not deal with?
Find out more about how we assess if our services are right for you and how we can help.
Generally, DSCV does not deal with:
- Matters where Family Violence is or may be present,
- Where a family law matter is before the Family Court or the Federal Magistrates' Court,
- Matters involving parenting arrangements, and
- Matters involving ongoing violence and/or criminal charges
What will our staff do for you?
DSCV staff are trained to listen to your concerns and help you to clarify your issues. Staff will be able to suggest options, strategies and negotiation techniques which may assist you in resolving your dispute. They will also be able to refer you to a range of agencies that may be more appropriate for your matter if DSCV cannot assist.
If you would like to arrange a mediation session, a Dispute Assessment Officer (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.
Can we advocate for you or fix your issues?
No, DSCV staff are neutral in the matter and assist all people involved equally. They are not there to represent you or to advocate on your behalf.
Will we make a decision about the dispute?
No, they can only assist you to resolve the dispute yourself. Staff members do not determine who is right or wrong and what the outcome of the matter should be.
Are your discussions with us 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 DSCV employees, and all information provided to them will be managed in accordance with the information privacy principles pursuant to that Act.
Additionally, agreements reached at mediation and the discussions you have with staff beforehand are protected under the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958, section 21M.
Both your details and those of the other person are confidential and cannot be disclosed unless consent is provided.
Can we investigate or enforce on your behalf?
DSCV staff do not have any investigative or enforcement powers. Accordingly, DSCV does not provide any location/site assessment services and they cannot tell the person you are in dispute with to do anything.
How do we contact the other people involved in the dispute?
The DSCV will send a letter requesting that the person call the centre to discuss the issue further. You will need to provide the other party's postal address so the letter can be sent.
Will the assessment officer who looks after my case be the mediator?
Many DSCV staff are accredited mediators but it is not usual practice for the assessment officer to act as the mediator in your matter. Their primary role is to prepare everyone for mediation and make all necessary arrangements for the mediation to take place.
Can we give legal advice?
No, DSCV staff can give you some advice about a range of topics but they are not legal practitioners. Any advice they provide is of a general nature only and should not be considered legal advice. DSCV staff can however provide you with an appropriate referral to contacts for legal advice.