Providing legally assisted, culturally appropriate Family Dispute Resolution in the context of family violence

Photo: Paul Wyrwoll

Research team

Research summary

Family Dispute Resolution is a mediation process conducted by an independent practitioner to assist people affected by divorce or separation to resolve their disputes with each other. While family dispute resolution services are accessible across Australia, Indigenous and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) families are substantially under-represented among those accessing family dispute resolution services.

The Australian Government has funded a $12 million project in eight pilot sites across Australia designed to provide family dispute resolution to Indigenous and CALD families. An ANU research team, led by Dr Siobhan McDonnell, has been engaged to evaluate the success of these pilot projects.

This evaluation/research project considers:

  • Current barriers to accessing family dispute resolution services amongst the Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse population;
  • How to provide ‘culturally safe’ service delivery that is inclusive and accessible;
  • How intersectional feminist approaches can inform service delivery, in the context of family violence. In particular it considers the acute vulnerability of particular cohorts of women, such as certain groups of migrants women who are in Australia on spousal or temporary visas.
  • How to incorporate different cultural models of family into dispute resolution practice; and
  • How to incorporate cultural practices into mediation processes, as an aspect of legal pluralism, and
  • How to better support Indigenous and CALD staff in FDR Centres.

As part of this evaluation 219 open-ended interviews have been collected during field visits to pilot sites. This includes 80 with clients, 66 staff in services and 70 with staff in partner organisations.

Updated:  28 February 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team