Providing Culturally Sensitive and Appropriate FDR for CALD Families

My name is Mollie and I am an Arts/Law Student majoring in sociology. I chose to participate in the Dispute Resolution unit because I was interested in learning more about ADR techniques and the pros and cons of an alternative to the court system. I chose to focus my blog on CALD families because I wanted to understand how a minority group within Australia experiences FDR and what can be done to improve access and experience.

Felix Astoram https://www.freeimages.com/photo/paper-family-1313628

People from culturally and linguistically diverse(‘CALD’)  backgrounds are not accessing family dispute resolution(‘FDR’) services at a rate proportionate to their presence in Australia.[1] The research suggests that CALD communities are concerned that FDR services would not be culturally appropriate or sensitive to their disputes. My paper explores the challenges and opportunities for Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (‘FDRP’) in ensuring that FDR is culturally sensitive and appropriate.

Throughout my research I found that FDRP’s could benefit from a uniform approach to culturally sensitive FDR directed from the Government.[2] I also found that FDRP’s could benefit from engaging in a reflexive practice. This would help them to continually challenge review and assess how they are providing FDR services to CALD families. [3]

Finally, I found that gender roles were a common reason why CALD communities felt that FDRP’s would not be culturally appropriate or sensitive.[4] Rather for many CALD communities, respected older family members of community leaders are often approached first to help resolve family disputes.[5] Even to the extent that they sometimes engage in helping divide up assets. I found that there was some anecdotal support for including these older respected family members or community leaders in the FDR process.


[1] Susan Armstrong, Enhancing access to family dispute resolution for families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (AFRC Briefing No.18 November 2010) 23;

[2] M. Dimopoulos, ‘Mediating difference: Utilising cross-cultural training skills to work more effectively with diverse groups’ in Toom Fisher (ed), Fourth national mediation conference proceedings (Melbourne: School of Law and Legal Studies, La Trobe University 1998); Australian Law Reform Commission, Family violence – A National Legal Response (ALRC Report No 14, November 2010).

[3] Susan Armstrong, ‘Developing Culturally Reflexive Practice in Family Dispute Resolution’ (2012) 22 Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal 30, 38-40.

[4] Lola Akin Ojelabi, Tom Fisher, Helen Cleak, Alikka Vernon and Nikola Balvin, ‘A cultural assessment of family dispute resolution: findings about access, retention and outcomes from the evaluation of a family relationship centre’ (2012) 18(1) Journal of Family Studies 76, 79.

[5] Ghena Krayem and Farrah Ahmed, Islamic Community Processes In Australia: An Introduction.

This entry was posted in Dispute resolution by Dr Olivia Rundle. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dr Olivia Rundle

Dr Rundle is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania. She has worked as a nationally accredited mediator and a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Dr Rundle is especially interested in the role of lawyers in dispute resolution processes and the policy environment that positively encourages lawyers to engage with dispute resolution. She teaches and researches in broad areas of Dispute Resolution, Civil Procedure and Family Law.

1 thought on “Providing Culturally Sensitive and Appropriate FDR for CALD Families

  1. Pingback: 2020… | The Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network

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