Arguing with your neighbours over who should pay to replace a damaged fence?
Aggravated by a flatmate who won’t pay his/her share of the bills, or who holds parties most nights?
Upset because your child was banned from the cricket club after you swore at a referee? Squabbling with your siblings about who will care for your elderly father?
If you’re facing a situation like this, your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help. Citizens Advice has linked up with a team of accredited mediators keen to provide pro bono services to help their community.
Their service is called ‘‘Welcomed’’ and is free for disputes not covered by existing mediation services.
Mediation is a great way of resolving disputes when talking directly hasn’t worked. It helps people reach agreement and is ideal for preventing issues from spiralling out of control and into the courts.
Mediation is voluntary, so both parties have to agree to be there.
If your case is considered suitable for ‘‘Welcomed’’ mediation, the service will contact the other party to let them know you have suggested mediation to try to sort things out. If they agree, a time and date is set.
Most mediation takes place over a three-hour session.
Two mediators will help you and the other party air the issues and look for a way forward. The mediators are neutral, which means they do not take sides.
During the session, the mediators ask questions and make sure you and the other party understand each other.
After the parties have discussed everything, the mediators help them brainstorm ideas to resolve the dispute.
The mediators will not give the parties ideas, but will encourage them to think about what they have heard and what they might put forward to end the dispute.
If the parties agree how to resolve the dispute, the mediators will help the parties write up the agreement.
The service is confidential, so those involved cannot talk about what happened at mediation unless they have permission from all parties.
Parties can bring a support person (who must also sign a confidentiality agreement).
If you’re in this situation and talking hasn’t worked, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for a referral to ‘‘ Welcomed’’. Ph 0800 367222 or go to cab.org.nz.