What is a dispute resolution conference?
Dispute resolution conferences are meetings conducted in child protection cases before the Children’s Court of Victoria. The aim of a dispute resolution conference is to provide an opportunity for the parties to agree on what should happen without resorting to a contested court hearing. In a dispute resolution conference parents and children are able to speak for themselves.
Who attends a dispute resolution conference?
Dispute resolution conferences are attended by:
- a convenor who is employed by the Court to conduct the conference
- family members
- Department of Human Services child protection workers, and
- legal representatives.
Relatives of the family, other relevant professionals and interpreters may also attend.
What happens in a dispute resolution conference?
What happens after a dispute resolution conference?
- Those attending introduce themselves and state their connection to the child and family involved in the case.
- The child protection workers outline their concerns about the child and say what they think should happen to improve the child’s circumstances.
- Legal representatives respond to what the child protection workers have said.
- The family members are invited to comment.
- The convenor makes suggestions and encourages the parties to come to an agreement about what should happen.
- If the parties agree in the dispute resolution conference about what should happen, the case goes to court where the judge/magistrate will, if appropriate, make orders in line with the agreement reached.
- If the parties were not able to reach an agreement in the conference, the case goes to court and the judge/magistrate will adjourn the case to a date for a contested hearing.
If you have a question about attending a dispute resolution conference, you should speak to your lawyer or telephone the registry of the Children's Court
where your case is to be heard.