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Media Release - Review of Community Justice Centres under way

The future form of community mediation to resolve neighbourhood and other disputes is the subject of an Issues Paper released by the New South Wales Law Reform Commission today.

Community mediation is conducted in New South Wales by Community Justice Centres (CJCs), a government agency first established in 1980.

CJCs were established to provide a means of dealing with the sort of disputes for which conventional court-based procedures are unsuited - domestic or neighbourhood disputes where the disputing parties had, or once had, an ongoing relationship, including disputes between family members, partners, friends, workmates, members of social groups and other community organisations, neighbours, landlords and tenants, flatmates and so on.

The CJC mediators, who are members of the community they serve, work to help the parties reach a mutually satisfactory settlement. As well as benefiting the parties to a dispute, CJC mediations also help to free up police and court resources.

The Centres now provide services to all regions of New South Wales.

'The Community Justice Centres Act has been influential in the growth and development of mediation in New South Wales and other Australian jurisdictions. However, there have been many developments in the field of mediation since the Act was passed more than 20 years ago. It is time for a full-scale review to ensure that the aims and objects of the system are still valid and being met', said Hilary Astor, Professor of Litigation and Dispute Resolution at Sydney University and a Commissioner on the review.

The review looks at all aspects of the operation of the Community Justice Centres Act. Some specific areas for review include:

  • the provision of mediation services to Aboriginal communities;
  • the consequences of requiring parties to attempt mediation at a CJC before going to court; and
  • mediator accreditation, training and remuneration.

The Commission welcomes submissions on the review from interested groups and members of the public. A final report is expected in the first half of 2004.

Free copies of the Issues Paper may be obtained from the Commission on (02) 9228 8230 or from the Commission's website.

Media enquiries:

Peter Hennessy, Executive Director: (02) 9228 8230

Joseph Waugh, Legal Officer: (02) 9228 8230