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their separation”.996  Improvements for children were reported by 40% of the follow-up sample, compared with 37% in the Family Court survey of 1994.997  Ninety per cent of clients in the follow-up sample stated that they would be willing to use mediation services again.

Durability of agreements

9.63 In a six month follow-up survey, changes to agreements concerning parenting issues were made in 31% of cases.  Sixty per cent of those who changed their agreement were responding to the changing needs of their children.  Overall, 14% of those who reached agreement said that the agreement had since broken down.

Federally funded family mediation - Sydney evaluation (1996)

9.64In 1996, LAFS commissioned an evaluation of the Sydney Family Court Mediation Section,998 and community mediation services.  The latter consisted of the Centracare Family Mediation Program, the Couple and Family Mediation Service of Relationships Australia (NSW), and the Unifam Family Mediation Service.999

Costs and funding of mediation

9.65There was strong endorsement by the clients interviewed that the main reason for choosing mediation was the wish to avoid additional legal costs.  Perceptions of relatively low costs appeared to be an attractive reason for many clients to choose mediation.  For some, however, costs were problematic.  A few referred to the double burden of paying for mediation which failed to resolve the dispute and then paying for litigation.

9.66To compare the cost of mediation with the cost of litigation in the Family Court, a method of costing was adopted that identified the tasks, personnel, time and costs for each step in the two methods of dispute resolution.  For litigation, the estimated cost of personnel in the Family Court amounted to A$902.51.1000  This figure compared with estimates of A$479.32 and A$627.70 for non-Family Court mediation, depending upon which model of mediation was adopted.  For mediation in the Family Court Mediation Section the estimate was A$884.35.1001

9.67Recommendation 12 of the Sydney evaluation report concluded that:

996 Ibid at xi.

997 Ibid at 84.

998 This had been established in 1993.

999 Moloney, Fisher, Love and Ferguson, Managing Differences: Federally - Funded Family Mediation in Sydney: Outcomes, Costs and Client Satisfaction, July 1996. For LAFS.

1000 This estimate does not include the costs leading to a final judicial determination because in this case it has been assumed that the matter settled at the formal negotiation stage of each process.

1001 Staff costs are higher in the Family Court.  For example, a mediator (Deputy Registrar) and a mediator (counsellor) have been cost at A$43.31 per hour and A$33.29 per hour respectively.  This compares with a staff mediator in the non-Family Court mediation agencies costs at A$24.00 per hour.

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