While mediation has become a generic and ubiquitous brand it is worth recalling its 1980s Australian genesis in community justice programs throughout the country. Despite the contemporary preponderance of mediation within courts, tribunals, commissions and other legal institutions or legal contexts, the community justice programs have continued in less prominent forms and have increased their scope and services over time. While it is tempting to consider multiple future adaptions of mediation through replacement and disruptive technology and in many different dispute areas, it is appropriate to recognise the anchoring effect of its earliest community manifestations. While disruption (or, more positively, transformation) is a vogue concept of the age there is also a value in those who maintain the practice of traditional forms of mediation. While welcoming the inn
This is not, however, to pine wistfully for a return to mediation’s original intent and identity, as is sometimes heard at conferences. The system now has multiple intents and numerous identities; its future must be considered in the light of the present, and we reject an over-nostalgic view of mediation’s past. As we said in Australian Dispute Resolution, it is important to engage with ‘the discontinuities in the history of DR in Australia to help us learn from the past, avoid reinventing the wheel, remind us of the ideas and approaches that have been jettisoned, and appreciate why they have been discontinued or replaced’.
We hope you have enjoyed the series of posts from Chapter 12 of our new book Mediation in Australia (LexisNexis, 2018).
Laurence Boulle and Rachael Field