What is Mediation?

I am passionate about the benefits of mediation ever since I trained as a mediator back in 2013.

Before that, like most people, I really didn’t understand what mediation was and definitely nothing about picking a NMAS Accredited Mediator.

I think the reason for that is that facilitating mediation is such a unique role and the term is used so widely and incorrectly in many cases.

If you read the NMAS you’ll see that one of the key distinctions for a mediator is that they need to be neutral and impartial (more on that in another post) which means that they can’t be your boss, your close colleague, your lawyer or your friend unless everyone agrees that they can facilitate the process without a conflict of interest. 

Conflict of Interest means that they may get some benefit or have some motivation for trying to steer the mediation outcome in a certain way or that they are unfair in their treatment of someone. Fair is another of those concepts that I’ll explore a bit more later from the perspective of a professional mediation trainer and practitioner. 


As a mediator and NLP Master Practitioner I know that words have power but they do not always convey a universal meaning.
The interpretation we each make, the emotion we attach to words and what they mean to us depends on our experience and the meaning we attached when we learnt the word.


Take the word snake for example.  Some people may hear the word and feel terrified (sorry about that if that is you), some may feel repulsion, some may be indifferent if they’ve not really had any exposure to snakes and they are just not a thing in their lives and others may be fascinated, because they love snakes in particular or all animals.  The name of any animal gives them warm and fuzzy feelings, even snakes!

The point is, if we want someone else to use our interpretation of what a word means, we need to use more words so that we can explain it.

Same Same for concepts like mediation.

It is one of our super powers as mediators. We make people explain what they mean by the words they use and make the listener say what they have understood from what has been said to them.  Poorly trained or untrained mediators don’t get that distinction.

They think that mediation is just a negotiation process. It is a negotiation process but at its best it is a Collaborative Negotiation process and that is only possible if people are on the same page in terms of their understanding of the issues and also the outcome each would like. 

Definition of Mediation

The best definition of mediation to use in Australia is the one from the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS). That is the voluntary industry standard established for Mediation in Australia. 
My business Mediation Institute is a Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body (RMAB). We train, assess and  accredit mediators against the standards established by the Mediator Standards Board (MSB). 
The  NMAS says that a mediator uses the knowledge, skills and ethical principles described in the NMAS to assist participants to make their own decisions in relation to disputes, conflicts or differences among them.
You can read the NMAS on the Mediators Standards Board Website and any NMAS Accredited Mediator you work with should provide you a link or a copy of the NMAS.

Choosing a Mediator

In my opinion you should ONLY work with a NMAS accredited mediator.

If you don’t you are working with someone who may not be trained, may not be maintaining their professional competence after training, may not be insured and may not have passed good character checks.

If someone takes money from you to mediate but is not on the NMAS Register – look up here find out you have to ask them why not. I mean it. Ask them!

  • Is it that they can’t be bothered to comply with the national standard?
  • Do they consider themselves above it?
  • Are they untrained and ignorant of it?
  • Are they not a competent mediator and could not meet the education requirements which requires a role-play assessment of competence?
  • Have they had their NMAS Accreditation cancelled, but they still continue to mediate?
There are plenty of competent and compliant mediators who have a complaint handling body that you can work with. 
Why work with a cowboy who has none of their obligations in  place?

When you chose a NMAS accredited mediator:

  • the mediator has been accredited by a Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body (RMAB).
  • the mediator is required to comply with the NMAS Approval Standards and the Practice Standards and any relevant legislation.
  • the RMAB is satisfied that the mediator has evidence of competence taking into account their qualifications, training and experience.
  • for the mediator to maintain their accredited status they must reapply for accreditation every 2 years showing that they have conducted mediations and met professional development obligations
  • the RMAB has obtained evidence that the mediator maintains professional insurance (either individually or via their employer)
  • the RMAB has obtained evidence that the mediator is of good character
  • if you want to provide feedback or make a complaint, the RMAB has a process for receiving your feedback or complaint, and the mediator is subject to a disciplinary process where that is appropriate.

Why mediation works

This short video explains why the conversations that you have in mediation help to overcome the gaps in understanding and perspective, stop the blame and recriminations and put you to work on resolving whatever the problems are that are feeding the dispute or conflict.


Mediation Institute maintains a directory of members who are available as independent mediators. 

Visit the site to find out more.

The Mediator Standards Board maintains a directory of NMAS Accredited Mediators.

You can search for the mediators name to find out if they are accredited.

NMAS does not provide  the training for Family Law Mediation.

There is a 12 month post graduate qualification that people need to do (even lawyers) in order to be qualified to apply to the Australian Attorney Generals Department to become a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner which is the official term for a Family Law Mediator in Australia.

If someone is offering to do mediation to reach a property settlement or parenting agreement you can check the Attorney Generals Department Register to see if they are accredited. 

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner Register


Glad you asked. There are various providers of the training.  We have some rules to comply with set by the NMAS Standards but there are various approaches taken.

I am a believer in elearning because I don’t think just doing a workshop is the best way to learn skills.

If you are looking for flexibility, accessibility and trainers who really care about their students check out our courses on the Mediation Institute website.