Foreword from the Attorney-General
Access to justice is a priority for the Australian Government.
Mostly we talk about access to justice in terms of Australia’s court system. Courts play a very important role in helping people to access justice and, as Attorney-General, I have talked about how important it is that our courts are geared as much to the small, one-off litigant as to large corporations.
However, not everyone with a dispute goes to court and access to justice goes beyond access to the courts. It’s also about access to information and support to help people with the other, less formal pathways that are used every day to resolve disputes.
Most people resolve their disputes themselves. Others seek assistance from an independent third person or body.
A growing number of people are turning to alternative dispute resolution, where a third person offers professional and independent assistance to reach a solution that is acceptable to everyone involved.
Alternative dispute resolution offers many benefits. It has the flexibility to be tailored to people’s needs. The processes are less formal and offer the potential for the people involved to have a bigger say about the outcome of their dispute.
This guide contains basic information about some of the alternative dispute resolution options available, giving practical tips on using alternative dispute resolution and helping people to identify the advantages of the different processes available. For some people, reading this guide may be the first step in understanding that there are many ways to resolve disputes outside of the courts.
I would like to commend the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council (NADRAC) for the work they have done in producing this useful guide, in collaboration with my department.
I encourage everyone - whether you have a dispute or work as a dispute resolution practitioner, a lawyer, in a court or tribunal or elsewhere in Australia’s justice system - to read this guide.
The Hon Nicola Roxon MP