NMAS Review September Update

In 2020, the Mediator Standards Board (MSB) engaged the team at Resolution Resources to review the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS). We encourage everyone in the dispute resolution community to learn more about the purpose and methodology used to conduct this current review.

This blogpost provides:

a. An update on the review of the NMAS (NMAS Review)

b. Insight into Part 1 of the Effectiveness Survey Report

c. Information about the main NMAS Review Survey


a. NMAS Review Update

2021 has been challenging for everyone. We have not escaped, but we are proud to say there has been steady progress with the NMAS Review. While it has remained true to its initial purpose, the scope of the work has expanded significantly for all the right reasons – the broad consultation through the reference groups, workshops and the Effectiveness Survey showed that the mediation community wanted more. In particular, these groups were asked us to consider aspects reaching beyond the ‘Accreditation and Practice Standards’ and into the ‘System’ as a whole.

In response, we have stepped up and accepted this challenge. We are committed to ensuring that this more extensive process has all the resources it needs. Specifically, we are contributing additional time and energy to ensure the quality and depth remain high, even with this expanded process. We think this is a small price to pay and we thank everyone for their patience – we are sure that you are as excited as we are to see a rich and multi-dimensional outcome.

Even with these inclusions, significant progress has been made, and we are excited to share some of the findings from the NMAS Effectiveness Survey.

b. Effectiveness Survey Report – Part 1

The Effectiveness Survey was conducted in March 2021. The purpose of the survey was to ascertain the extent to which MSB member organisations and mediators perceive the NMAS Standards to be effective. It was also an opportunity to gather data about the mediation community, some of which now informs the design of the upcoming main NMAS Survey. The Effectiveness Survey Report will be released in four parts:

  • Part 1 – Participants
  • Part 2 – Perceived effectiveness
  • Part 3 – Other factors
  • Part 4 – Mediator styles

What have we learned so far?

Part 1 of the Report provides insight into the participants, particularly the characteristics, areas of practice, and amount of work of the mediators surveyed. In response to the main themes arising from the findings, Part 1 also includes six preliminary recommendations, signalling potential priorities for the MSB or its member organisations.

Here is a sample of the findings and recommendations contained in Part 1:

1.There was a significant lack of diversity across various personal characteristics among the mediators surveyed, including cultural background, education, disability, and LGBTQIA+ status.

RECOMMENDATION: Develop and implement a diversity and inclusion strategy to promote greater representation within the mediation community.

2. For a majority of respondents, mediator practice makes up 50% or less of their overall work. Further, 63% of mediators reported being over the age of 55.  

RECOMMENDATION: Conduct further research into the factors contributing to employment outcomes/equivalent practice opportunities for mediators to identify genuine pathways as professional mediators across all career stages.

3. Unlike other types of mediators, such as lawyer mediators, workplace mediators or community mediators, FDRPs and conciliators are the most active practitioners in terms of the number of mediations and mediation as a proportion of their overall work.

RECOMMENDATION: Continue consideration of conciliation and FDRP as potential inclusions in the NMAS Review, with the view to long-term options for enhanced representation within the MSB.

To review the complete summary of findings and recommendations, we invite you to read Part 1 of the Effectiveness Survey Report – available to download on the NMAS Hub. The MSB is also releasing findings on their LinkedIn page. Follow them for more updates. We have also written a short blog which includes some more of the findings to whet your appetite!

We welcome your thoughts and comments about the Report!

c. The NMAS Review Survey

The main NMAS Review Survey, which is the final part of the consultation process, will be open to all members of the DR community. However, there is still some work to be done on the survey to ensure it captures all of the input gathered so far. We will also conduct a pilot to help us test the reliability of the questions and structure of the survey.

There is a link to an expression of interest if you would like to be part of the pilot survey. When volunteering for the pilot, please consider that this is an additional task, and any data collected will only be used to improve the design of the NMAS Survey. It is not a substitute for participating in the NMAS Survey open to everyone in the DR community.

The NMAS Review Hub has been specifically constructed to provide up-to-date and transparent information about the review. We invite everyone in the DR community to visit regularly and/or subscribe to receive news updates.

Watch the NMAS Review Hub for the release of Parts 2, 3 and 4 of the Effectiveness Survey Report!

The NMAS Review Team

Emma-May and Danielle

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