Mediations are confidential meetings where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute, with the help of an impartial mediator.

The mediator will either be a VCAT member or an accredited mediator appointed by VCAT.

The mediator does not make a decision in the case. Their role is to help you and the other party to agree on a fair resolution at the mediation instead of VCAT deciding the case for you at a hearing.

Prepare for your mediation

Read the notice or orders you receive from us carefully.

You must be prepared to explain the details of the dispute, what you are claiming or saying in response to the claim, and how you think the dispute could be resolved. Consider the other party's point of view and come to the meditation with an open mind.

What to bring to the mediation

You should bring all documents that support your case. Evidence is not presented at the mediation but you will be asked questions about your case and you must answer honestly. Learn more about preparing evidence.

Authority to settle at a mediation

The parties who attend a mediation must have personal knowledge of the issues in dispute. They must also have the authority to settle. If you are representing a company, club, government body, group or another person, you must bring written authority signed by an authorised person to enter into a binding agreement on behalf of that party.

At the mediation

We schedule mediations for either an hour, half-day or full day. We will tell you how much time is set for your mediation in the notice or orders. The notice also tells you how early you must arrive before your hearing. Plan to arrive on time and to be at VCAT for all of the scheduled time.

At a mediation, everyone must be respectful and communicate politely.

The mediator will explain the process and manage the discussions. They will:

  • ask each party or their representative to give a summary of how they see the dispute
  • assist the parties to identify the key issues in dispute
  • talk to the parties in private if necessary, to clarify issues and discuss settlement options confidentially.

The mediator will confirm the outcome of the mediation.

Representation at mediation

Many people choose to represent themselves at VCAT. The mediator usually decides who is present in the mediation room and the extent to which they participate. We encourage you to participate directly in the mediation, even if you are represented, because you have personal knowledge of the issues in dispute. In some cases, VCAT must first approve having someone represent you. Learn more about professional representation at VCAT.

Confidentiality at mediations

Conversations at mediations are confidential and cannot be used later at a hearing. You may be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement that means you cannot disclose to outsiders, including the media, what was said or done or any confidential documents produced.

Mediations at VCAT cannot be recorded and the mediator's notes are destroyed and not kept on file.

Private sessions

During the mediation the mediator may meet with the parties separately in private sessions. What is discussed in private sessions remains between you and the mediator unless you agree that the mediator can inform the other side.

Change the date of mediation

A change to the date of a mediation is called an adjournment. If you need to change the date of your mediation, you must ask our permission as early as possible. Learn more about changing a hearing date.

If you resolve your dispute before mediation

If you reach an agreement before the mediation, let us know immediately by telephone and confirm it in writing.

Alternatively, the applicant may decide to withdraw their application before the mediation. Learn more about how to withdraw a case.

If no settlement is reached at a mediation

If you cannot reach an agreement at mediation, the case is usually listed for a final hearing on a later date. We may make directions for the final hearing first, including setting a timetable that outlines what you need to do by certain dates before the hearing.

A different VCAT member will hear the case at a final hearing and will not know about your confidential discussions at the mediation.

What to do if you miss your mediation

If you do not attend the mediation, VCAT may make an order against you without you being present.

We may:

  • make an order against the absent party
  • strike out the application made by the absent party
  • remove the absent party as a party in the proceeding
  • make an order for costs against the absent party.

Accessibility and support at VCAT

We can arrange assistance for people to attend mediations, including interpreters, security, family violence support, hearing and speech assistance, audiovisual equipment, wheelchair access and other accessibility assistance. Learn more about  support services at VCAT.