Towards an Online Family Dispute Resolution Service in Australia

♫ Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree.
He sang and he watched and waited ’til his billy boiled,
“You’ll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me….♫

Words and music by: Banjo Paterson.

Professor John Zeleznikow, Laboratory of Decision Support and Dispute Management, School of Management and Information Systems, Victoria University, in a comment posted to the ODR and Consumers 2010 blog, alluded to a paper discussing the existing Online Family Dispute Resolution Service in Australia.

At the ODR Conference in Buenos Aires in June, Professor Zeleznikow presented (via web conference) on this service and how it operates.

The Abstract for his paper discussing this service reads as follows:


While the number of family disputes makes other disputes pale into insignificance, there is remarkably little decision support or information technology to support disputants in their negotiations. In Australia, pre-trial mediation has been made compulsory in family matters. To help disputants better resolve their conflicts, services have evolved to meet demand, reduce costs and leverage the benefits of technology.

This paper examines and reports on a number of methods and tools that have been and are being developed to support parties in family conflicts. First, Negotiation support tools have been developed to provide advice about BATNAs (alternatives should the mediation fail). Second, Telephone Dispute Resolution services are taking an increasingly important role in supporting parties to reach agreements. Finally, technological developments, service efficiencies and community sophistication herald opportunities for Online Family Dispute Resolution services.

Such a system adds to the range of offerings and modalities among which those seeking to resolve family disputes can choose. As an addition rather than replacement for existing face-to-face or telephone services, on-line approaches provide potential benefits for educating and preparing parties so that dispute resolution can proceed more effectively to mutually satisfactory agreements.

Accordingly, here is his full paper for download from the ODR and Consumers 2010 blog.

We can see how they go a waltzing matilda with ODR in Australia!

(cross-posted from the ODR and Consumers 2010 blog).


  1. Hi there,

    I am involved in the online family dispute resolution pilot project alluded to by Prof. Zeleznikow. We are currently in the process of trialling the service with clients and evaluating the efficacy of the service in comparison to existing face to face and phone mediation services. We are presenting at the 10th Annual Mediation Conference, held in Adelaide, Australia on 9th September 2010. We have three papers accepted to this conference, which detail or evaluation methodology and preliminary client survey results.