Conferenced-Out: Divorcing Families Need Help Outside of Conference Rooms!

Mediation is no longer something new. Ontarians however, don’t really know much about it and  when they do, the information has been somewhat distorted by the time it has gotten to them. As an accredited mediator, this troubles me!

With the exception of some great speakers, family mediators have yet to experience a sense of “quid pro quo” or professional fraternity when attending conferences. Those prominent names of 20+ years ago are the same gatekeepers entering today through the same revolving door. While current topics may have incorporated today’s “hottest buzzwords and phrases” (such as “access to justice”), at a macro level, not much has changed. The question still remains: what are the real benefits of attending conferences and how does it serve our public?  As an accredited mediator, this troubles me!

I have been on both sides: attending and organizing conferences. I have been vocal about the dire need for educating the public about mediation and its benefits; educating the lawyers on how to best support their clients through mediation; lobbying the government to allocate dollars to out-of-court mediation programs; and promoting mediation in an unified manner. And, yet, to date, someone seeking information about mediation, will get at least three different versions: one from mediators, another one from lawyers, and yet another one from our justice system. No one is taking responsibility. Sadly, political and personal agendas seem to be louder than people’s voices and families’ needs! As an accredited mediator, this troubles me!

And, for these reasons, I am all conferenced out!

I entered the mediation field with highest hopes: to help families overcome what could be a very traumatic experience; to guide people through what could be an extremely overwhelming process; and to instill a sense of hope in the health of their post-divorce reorganization! And… I can’t do this from a conference room!