Communities and Justice

ADR Directorate projects

ADR Blueprint project

The ADR Blueprint project is an important reform project that is currently being implemented. It aims to extend and better integrate ADR across the NSW civil justice system.

The project started in 2009 with the release of 19 proposals in the ADR Blueprint Discussion Paper.

Following broad public consultation, 2 draft reports were released:

The blueprint recommendations were implemented in the following ways.

  • The introduction of an ADR Directorate. The directorate was formed in 2009 to co-ordinate, manage and drive ADR government policy, strategy and growth in NSW.
  • The ADR Directorate supports other agencies, including LawAccess and Courts and Tribunal Services, to provide better information to consumers about non-court options.
  • Universities have been encouraged to put a greater emphasis on ADR skills in legal education and other relevant courses.
  • The ADR Directorate is working towards strengthening the Model Litigant Policy to give greater emphasis to ADR in resolving civil claims and litigation and to ensure the Model Litigant Policy is binding on local as well as state government agencies.
  • NSW commercial arbitration legislation passed in June 2010. The NSW legislation is based on the Model Law of the International Commercial Arbitration of the United Nations Commission's International Trade Law. 
  • The Australian International Disputes Centre was established in 2010 with the assistance of the NSW and Commonwealth governments.
  • An annual survey was introduced in 2012 to start collecting high-level statistical data from NSW agencies about the use of ADR and associated savings in legal expenditure.
  • The ADR Directorate is working towards having ADR clauses included in all appropriate government contracts.
  • The Civil Procedure Act 2005 was amended to require parties to take reasonable steps to resolve or narrow the issues in dispute before commencing civil proceedings. These amendments came into effect in 2013.

Increasing ADR in child protection matters

The ADR Directorate chaired an Expert Working Party that reviewed and advised the NSW Government on preferred ADR models for use in child protection matters.

This followed the Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW, which recommended ADR be more firmly embedded in the NSW care jurisdiction. The working party delivered its report to government in December 2009, and all of its recommendations were accepted.

As a result, 4 models of ADR have been implemented across the child protection system:

  • Family group conferencing. A pilot started in February 2011. Trials in 2 sites across NSW involved conferences were held before family matters reached the Children's Court, with the aim of avoiding future court proceedings in many cases.
  • A new model of dispute resolution conference was launched in the care jurisdiction of the NSW Children's Court in February 2011. It encourages the use of ADR during care proceedings.
  • An external care and protection mediation pilot for 100 care matters  launched in the Bidura Children's Court in September 2010. The pilot based on the Legal Aid family dispute resolution model involved mediations conducted outside of courthouse accommodation by an independent mediator.
  • Care circles operating in the Nowra Children's Court, with the program were expanded to Lismore in late 2011.
  • The department expected these models to improve the child protection system in NSW by giving families greater power in decision-making to produce better informed and more responsive decisions.

It will foster collaborative rather than adversarial relationships between Department of Communities and Justice (prior to July 2018, it was called Family and Community  Services) and families; to lead to outcomes that are accepted by all parties and therefore more likely to be implemented. All these models will be independently evaluated.

Last updated:

12 Aug 2021

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