Federally funded family mediation - Melbourne evaluation (1995)
9.53Since 1988, the Legal Aid and Family Services Division (LAFS) of the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department has funded a Family Mediation Program, administered by community organisations who provide family and child mediation services. There are 17 such services.
9.54In January 1995, LAFS issued a report which reviewed the effectiveness of the Family Mediation Program as compared to the Family Court Mediation Service, and profiled the different client groups.988 The review was conducted in a similar manner to the evaluation of the Family Court Mediation Scheme carried out by Bordow and Gibson, referred to earlier in this chapter It evaluated two agencies funded by the LAFS, Marriage Guidance Victoria and the Family Mediation Centre, together with the Family Court mediation service.
9.55Unfortunately, the survey was unable to make reliable comparisons with the costs of litigation. The only way this could be assessed would be by matching mediation and non-mediation cases right through the court system.989 The clients attending mediation at one particular centre had lower incomes and these reported that legal costs, even though moderate in some cases, impacted significantly on them.990
Sources of referral
9.56An average of 50% of clients came to the agencies by referral, rather than by personal choice.991 The source of referral varied according to the agency. For example, solicitors and Legal Aid were the highest source of referrals to the Family Court service (51%) and to the Family Mediation Service (47%).992 The mediation scheme attached to the Family Court attracted a higher proportion of referrals from lawyers than the other agencies. It should also be noted that the staff there provided seminars for lawyers to “participate in legal education programs and encourage feedback from legal practitioners”.993 In total, out of a sample of 55 cases from agencies other than the Family Court mediation service, 21 were referred by solicitors or Legal Aid. Family or friends accounted for 11% of referrals, self/media were 9% and the Family Court referred only 4% to other agencies.994
988Federally-Funded Family Mediation in Melbourne - Outcomes, Costs and Client Satisfaction. Attorney General’s Department, January 1995.
990 Supra at xv.
991 Ibid at 42.
992 Ibid at 43.
993 Ibid at xviii.
994 Ibid at 43.