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ADR Directorate projects    


ADR Blueprint project

The ADR Blueprint project is an important reform project, which is currently being implemented. It aims to extend and better integrate ADR across the NSW civil justice system.

The project started in 2009 with the release of 19 proposals in the ADR Blueprint Discussion Paper [PDF 325kb]. Following broad public consultation, two draft reports were released: the ADR Blueprint Draft Recommendations Report 1: Pre-action Protocols [PDF 208kb] and the ADR Blueprint Draft Recommendations Report 2: ADR in Government [PDF 268kb].

The blueprint recommendations were implemented in the following ways.

  • The ADR Directorate was formed in 2009 to co-ordinate, manage and drive ADR government policy, strategy and growth in NSW.
  • The ADR Directorate supports other agencies, including LawAccess and Courts and Tribunal Services, to provide better information to consumers about non-court options.
  • Universities have been encouraged to put a greater emphasis on ADR skills in legal education and other relevant courses.
  • The ADR Directorate is working towards strengthening the Model Litigant Policy to give greater emphasis to ADR in resolving civil claims and litigation and to ensuring the Model Litigant Policy is binding on local as well as state government agencies.
  • NSW's new commercial arbitration legislation, based on the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, was passed in June 2010 and the Australian International Disputes Centre was established in 2010 with the assistance of the NSW and Commonwealth governments.
  • High-level statistical data on the use of ADR and on associated saving in legal expenditure is being collected from NSW state agencies in the form of an annual survey from 2012.
  • The ADR Directorate is working towards having ADR clauses included in all appropriate government contracts.
  • The Civil Procedure Act 2005 has been amended to require parties to take reasonable steps to resolve or narrow the issues in dispute before commencing civil proceedings. These amendments are due to come into effect in 2013.

Increasing ADR in child protection matters

The ADR Directorate chaired an Expert Working Party which reviewed and advised the NSW government on preferred ADR models for use in child protection matters.

This followed the Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW, which recommended that ADR should be more firmly embedded in the NSW care jurisdiction. The working party delivered its report to the government in December 2009, and all of its recommendations have since been accepted.

As a result, four models of ADR have been implemented across the child protection system, as follows.

  • A family group conferencing pilot commenced in February 2011, and is currently being trialled in two sites across the state. Conferences are held before family matters reach the Children's Court, with the aim of avoiding future court proceedings in many cases.
  • A new model of dispute resolution conference was launched in the care jurisdiction of the NSW Children's Court in February 2011. It encourages the use of ADR during care proceedings.
  • An external care and protection mediation pilot for 100 care matters was launched in the Bidura Children's Court in September 2010. The pilot is based on the Legal Aid family dispute resolution model, with mediations conducted outside of courthouse accommodation by an independent mediator.
  • Care circles are currently operating in the Nowra Children's Court, with the program set to be expanded to Lismore in late 2011.

The department expects these models will improve the child protection system in NSW by giving families greater power in decision-making and producing decisions that are better informed and more responsive.

It will foster collaborative rather than adversarial relationships between Community Services and families; and should lead to outcomes that are accepted by all parties and therefore more likely to be implemented. All these models will be independently evaluated.



ADR Blueprint Discussion Paper [PDF 325kb]



ADR Blueprint Draft Recommendations Report 1: Pre-action Protocols [PDF 208kb]

ADR Blueprint Draft Recommendations Report 2: ADR in Government       [PDF 686kb]

Submission: Protecting the Integrity of ADR
The ADR Directorate's submission to NADRAC's Integrity of ADR Processes reference [PDF 86kb]