connectEDspace - support for young people

Young people can face all sorts of pressures – including problems at school, with friends or at home.
connectEDspace is a website by Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV), dedicated to young people to help provide all the information they need to deal with the stuff they go through each day.

Aboriginal Family and Relationship Support

RAV provides support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and individuals to help strengthen family relationships.

Counselling provides an opportunity to talk with a professionally trained person to discuss couple issues, conflicts with friends, relationship breakdown, parenting, domestic violence, anxiety, depression, grief, sexual problems, childhood sexual abuse, stress and work related tensions and disputes.


Family Dispute Resolution (FDR), also known as mediation is a process that helps couples and families who are in conflict to communicate with each other and reach agreement about issues relating to their separation, such as child care, child support, financial arrangements and property settlement.

How the process works

Before beginning, we assess whether FDR is appropriate for you and your circumstances. In addition, we take safety and wellbeing very seriously and therefore, will refer you to appropriate additional services that you may require.

In Family Dispute Resolution/mediation, a meeting of the disputing parties is facilitated by an independent third party (the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner/mediator). Everyone gets the opportunity to express his or her own point of view and is free to talk about issues of concern, with everyone present. The practitioner assists each party to sort out the issues and come up with acceptable solutions, and make agreements that are satisfactory for all parties. Decisions made during Family Dispute Resolution/mediation are not legally binding.

The Family Dispute Resolution process involves the parties:

  • listening to each other's point of view without interruption
  • identifying issues which need to be resolved
  • sharing of relevant information
  • exploring ideas and options
  • testing possible solutions
  • putting decisions and agreements in writing.

If you don't want to speak directly to your former partner during the Family Dispute Resolution process, we provide "shuttle" or shuttle telephone Family Dispute Resolution. During the shuttle process, you do not have to be in a room with, or speak directly to your former partner. If you have a lawyer, then they can also negotiate on your behalf.

Child-inclusive Family Dispute Resolution

Consideration may also be given to the possibility of children speaking to a trained child consultant who can provide feedback to parents within the Family Dispute Resolution/mediation process. This can give you an insight into your children's thoughts and development needs which can be reflected in your parenting plan. This is appropriate when all parties agree and the children are not placed in a position of telling their stories to different professionals. In these sessions, children can talk about how they are managing and what is important to them. At no time, however, is a child put in the position of having to make decisions.

Alternatively, and where decisions are being made for infants and young children (0-4 years), a child consultant can be included in the Family Dispute Resolution/mediation process to help inform parents in planning for their care. 

This brochure explains the value of consulting your children during the Family Dispute Resolution/mediation process.

The role of Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners/mediators

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners/mediators are highly-skilled people from a variety of professional backgrounds, such as law and the social sciences, trained in resolving disputes relating to families.

They do not give legal advice but will explore general principles that apply to couples who are separating. They may give advice in relation to children and parenting matters, focusing on 'the best interests of the child'.

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners are trained to be impartial and even-handed. They control the process, not the content that is discussed, and they maintain the confidentiality of the process, subject to limitations established in law. They focus on finding solutions and helping the parties to resolve their dispute. The practitioners ensure that everybody agrees to the decisions being made.

What can participants expect?

Participants must be prepared to follow the Family Dispute Resolution process. They must be willing to listen to the other party and be genuinely willing to negotiate and commit to reaching a solution and considering a compromise.


Family Dispute Resolution has a number of benefits. For instance, it:

  • saves money and delays, because it is cheaper and quicker than the Court process
  • promotes co-operation and improves communication, which assists parenting and other relationships
  • provides a structure in which future disputes can be resolved more readily
  • maintains an individual's control in the decision-making process: there are no imposed decisions
  • is generally less stressful or traumatic than court proceedings
  • is a more effective means of conflict resolution: people are less likely to breach agreements that they have made themselves.


The alternatives to Family Dispute Resolution/mediation are:

  • do nothing
  • continue the conflict
  • seek the assistance of friends in resolving the dispute
  • seek Arbitration, which is a less formal legal process to resolve the dispute than going to Court
  • instruct lawyers to negotiate agreements on your behalf
  • commence court proceedings
  • resolve the issues yourselves, without professional assistance.

Family Dispute Resolution certificates

If you want to apply to the court for a parenting order you will need a certificate from a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner in order to confirm that an attempt at family dispute resolution was made.

All of our Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners are registered.  To find your nearest Relationships Australia Victoria practitioner in metropolitan Melbourne or regional Victoria, view the list of RAV locations. For general enquiries about Family Dispute Resolution/mediation, call 1300 364 277.

There are some exceptions to the requirement for a certificate, including cases involving family violence or child abuse.  For more information visit the Australian Government's Family Relationships Online website at